FOOD ALLERGY – EVEN THE MOST HEALTHY DIET MAY CAUSE DISEASE
Food allergy is a disease of the 21st century. Did you know that the food may be the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms and multiple diseases?
Food was identified to have a significant impact on human health and well-being. Food allergy, or generally improper reaction of the immune system to food, is thought to be the disease of the 21st century. However, one should remember that food allergy manifestations are very diverse. In a typical IgE-dependent (type I, immediate) allergy, the body’s reaction to food is very fast and usually affects the skin and mucous membranes (rash, swelling, atopic dermatitis) and the digestive tract (diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation). Diagnosis of type I -immediate allergy is based on skin tests and blood tests for IgE antibodies and should always be based on medical history.
The problem arises, however, when consumed food induces health problems and deteriorates well-being but evaluation of IgE – dependent allergy gives negative results. What’s more, the patient is unable to determine on his own which food is the cause of the problems.
Negative reactions to foods may appear after a few days after eating a meal.
This is because the latent (delayed) food hypersensitivity may be the cause of chronic health issues. This means that the time between the ingestion of allergenic food and the onset of symptoms is between 8 – 96 hours. E.g. food consumed on Monday may trigger the body’s adverse reaction on Wednesday or Thursday. Such significant delay in symptoms onset states that the patient is unable to identify sensitizing foods by himself. These types of reactions are sometimes colloquially referred to as food intolerance. However, this type of adverse reaction involves the synthesis of specific IgG and IgA antibodies against certain foods, being an allergy mechanistic model.
Gut and food allergy
It is estimated that in highly developed countries, latent food allergy affects up to 50% of people. The disorder is caused by damage of the intestinal barrier. The main function of gut barrier covers passing through the intestinal wall only well digested nutrients. At the same time, gut barrier is a kind of a filter, preventing the penetration of toxins, bacteria and other harmful antigens into the circulatory system. In a healthy person, the intestinal barrier protects against harmful antigens and simultaneously ensures proper nutrition. Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle and environmental pollution affect the gut barrier structure which was found to be “opening” through the damage and leading to the development of the leaky gut syndrome. Factors that were found to be contributors of the intestinal barrier include the following:
- consumption of highly processed food
- alcohol abuse
- chronic psychological and physical stress (professional sport)
- environmental toxins
- genetic factors
- perinatal factors (delivery and feeding types)
- medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics)
- invasive treatment (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunosuppression, surgery)
- associated diseases (celiac disease, autoimmune diseases and others)
- previous bacterial and viral infections
The intestinal circulatory system is easily penetrated by undigested food particles, bacteria, fungi and toxins. Insufficiently digested foods activate the immune system protecting the body from potentially harmful antigens. In a person with intestinal barrier disruptions, the food is incorrectly recognized by GALT as a potentially harmful antigens. As inflammation develops and the formation of immune complexes takes place, the body is trying to eliminate food antigens from the body. However, this is impossible because the food is always present in the diet. Afterwards, continuous activation of GALT develops into a chronic form, affecting more distinct tissues and organs. Consequently, the disease is developing. The symptoms of the food hypersensitivity depend on the location of inflammation in the body
Latent food allergy may manifest as
- digestive problems (abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gastro-intestinal reflux)
- metabolic syndrome (overweight / obesity, atherosclerosis, hypertension)
- skin problems (atopic dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, idiopathic pruritus, urticaria)
- mood disorders
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- elevated inflammation during the course of autoimmune diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid
- rthritis, multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, celiac disease and others)
- autism spectrum disorders
- ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- neurological symptoms
- idiopathic muscle and joint pain
- other chronic ailments with aetiology difficult to establish
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