Due to a variety of factors, food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Whether there are more people with issues, or better diagnostics, these food problems can be very debilitating and limiting. Traditional medical care has included invasive testing and treatments. Chiropractic care and advice can help people in their wellness lifestyle. When a food ingredient, such as a protein, is considered harmful to a person’s immune system, the body mistakenly creates antibodies to defend itself. Common allergy-producing foods include tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy. Intolerances and sensitivities are not allergies because the response comes from the digestive and not the immune system. Though an intolerance is not an allergy, repeated aggravation of the sensitivity is not good for the patient’s body or life. A common food that triggers these discomforts includes lactose, which is in dairy. Allergic reactions are more severe, and they can range from rashes, to diarrhea and nausea, from itchy skin and chest pain, to full anaphylaxis (full-body allergic reaction). Intolerances can also include diarrhea and nausea, gas, heartburn, headaches, and irritability. Intolerances, or sensitivities, are much more common than allergies.1 Intolerances develop in the body gradually and the reaction time from the body may be slow, sometimes allowing the reaction to go unnoticed for a time before causing issues and making it somewhat more difficult for the patient to pinpoint the exact food trigger. Meanwhile, allergies cause a severe and immediate reaction.2
Traditional Diagnosis and Treatments
Some medical methods for diagnosing food intolerances include “hydrogen breath testing” for lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption”, elimination diets, and ELISA testing for immune responses to certain foods. Some tests might create false-positives, and the patient may choose to take multiple tests to be sure. Also, autoimmune diseases must be ruled out, such as Celiac Disease (which causes reactions to gluten). Patients should use caution when diagnosing themselves with food allergies. While the patient does know their own reaction to foods, certain reactions might be misinterpreted and the patient may begin to avoid too many, unnecessary foods. Cutting out too many types of foods will become a dangerous situation, so the patient should seek medical advice before going to such an extreme. Depending on whether or not there is an intolerance or an actual allergy, treatment methods vary. There are skin tests and blood tests, and medical history is also considered. Treatments can “involve long-term avoidance, or if possible re-establishing a level of tolerance”. Low-level allergies might leave room for the patient to become tolerant while high-level allergies are harder to treat.3 If food allergies progress, and the offending foods cannot always be avoided, patients have to wear medical alert jewelry, carry an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector, or seek out emergency care. Even after taking an injection of epinephrine, patients should still go to a hospital to be safe. Patients must learn how to ask about ingredients or oils used in foods and, depending on severity, learn whether food can be prepared with special tools. Even those without allergies need to understand that the reactions could be life-threatening and any special requests from those with allergies should be taken seriously.4 Some reactions can come during the testing process. “In provocation (challenge) testing, you eat a small amount of the suspected food allergen under medical supervision.” Patients should not attempt to test themselves for allergic reactions alone, as their allergy could be dangerously severe.5
A Chiropractic Perspective
According to Claudia Anrig, DC, “One of the three causes of the vertebral subluxation may be chemical, the family wellness chiropractor may…approach the role of nutrition in their practice.” Chiropractors find subluxations to be the cause of many physical ailments, allowing for the treatment of many of these issues at the same time. While treatment might be possible, prevention is important. Many childhood disorders can be caused by, or worsened, by dairy. These include tonsil and ear infections, asthma, intestinal bleeding, diabetes, and ear infections, as noted by Dr. Robert Kradjian, chief of breast surgery at California’s Seton Medical Center. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding dairy before a child turns 1. Anemia and food allergies are another risk of dairy consumption. The AAP suggests breastfeeding exclusively, without supplementation, for the first year. Aside from allergy prevention, and avoiding trigger foods, chiropractors can help patients’ immune systems. Dr. Anrig states, “I have seen that when families participate in healthy lifestyle choices that includes wellness chiropractic care for their children, very few children manifest food allergies.” Children are usually sensitive to certain foods, which means that these foods should be avoided before a certain age lest their consumption causes the development of allergies and sensitivities in the children. Signs of allergies need to be caught by parents so that prevention early in life could allow the patient to grow up and maybe have the ability to safely eat those previously dangerous foods.6
There is more information on allergies and chiropractic treatment.