Category Archives: Food allergy

Trends in Food Allergy Research

Study: Trends in Food Allergy Research by JUNKO SHIMADA (Life Science and Medical Research Unit)

 
This week is “National Healthy Eating Week” and I wanted to share with all of you some important insights related to food allergy research. A study conducted by Junko Shimada at the Life Science and Medical Research Unit, regarding important trends in food allergies suggests that the incidence of allergic diseases such as food allergy, atopic dermatitis, bronchial asthma and cedar pollenosis continues to increase in developed countries such as the United States. In particular, food allergy, which is often developed during infancy, and can affect a child’s growth or trigger an “allergic march,” or in other words, the progressive development of multiple allergies.

 
Currently, it is estimated that over 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies and food sensitivity. Data has also shown that 1 in 13 children are affected by at least 1 food allergy in their lifetime. Now you may be wondering what exactly is a food allergy? Food allergy is an exaggerated immune response induced by the misrecognition of orally ingested food as a foreign substance. Some of the most common food allergies include but are not limited to: eggs, milk, wheat, beans, buckwheat, fruit, seafood and meat. The development of food allergy involves both genetic and environmental factors such as pollution, food contamination, and chemical preservatives added to the different food products. Food allergies cause a hypersensitive reaction that damages our various systems, with symptoms that can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, hives and eczema. Severe cases of food allergy can induce anaphylactic shock, which may lead to death. The best way to stay safe and healthy is to become aware of potential existing allergies and food sensitivities by getting tested! If you would like to learn more information regarding this topic or if you’d like to get tested you can call our office at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center and our team we’ll be happy to help you schedule an appointment.

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Filed under Allergies, Arthritis, Digestion, Eczema, epigenetic, fatigue, Food allergy, headaches, IBD, IBS, Leaky gut syndrome, Weight Loss

Genes and diet: making healthier choices lower the chances of detrimental gene expression changes

Let’s talk about Epigenetics! The field of Epigenetics studies the different changes in organisms caused by the modification of gene expression rather than alteration in the genetic code itself. Now, you may be wondering how is this field relevant to you, your health and your everyday life style choices? Environmental factors such as your daily diet, smoking patterns and stress levels have been shown to impact gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms. In other words, research studies suggest that your lifestyle habits directly impact your organism and the way your genes are expressed.

Let’s take a look at one particular study that focused on testing this idea! A recent experiment performed by BMC Physiology scientists on mice, had the purpose of determining how their immune system responded to a typical Western diet. When mice were fed a Western diet, systemic inflammation occurred which was entirely expected. However, what was particularly interesting was that the Western diet fundamentally changed their immune system. After eating a high calories, low nutrient food, not only did the mice exhibit more systemic inflammation, but their white blood cells became programmed to remain hyper-sensitive to inflammatory triggers. In other words, their diet caused a drastic change tot their cellular “memory”, making their cells more vulnerable to inflammatory responses. These results may help explain why chronic inflammation is behind so many lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Studies like this one and many others conducted recently, show significant evidence that demonstrate the impact that your environment and life style choices have on your body. They also suggest that making healthier choices lower the chances of detrimental gene expression changes.

 
If you’d like to learn more about ways to improve your diet or get tested for food
allergies, give Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center a call and we’d be happy to schedule an appointment for you!

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Filed under decrease pain, Digestion, epigenetic, Food allergy, gene, IBD, IBS, Inflammation, Leaky gut syndrome, Uncategorized

How does low vitamin D worsen eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that is most commonly found among infants. However, many people will continue to have this condition into their adult life. Eczema can be caused by exposure to various environmental factors or it can simply be genetic. Eczema is a general term for any sort of dermatitis or itchy rash. This rash can flare up all over the body. However, the most common areas of eczema are the inside of the elbows, back of the knees, and all over the face and neck. Depending on exposure to irritants, allergies, foods, and stress levels the severity of eczema varies. 

Eczema is shown to be linked to allergic diseases such as asthma and thus, may increase with increased allergies. In more recent studies, people with eczema have shown to have very low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin that aids in boosting your immune system. It reduces levels of inflammatory proteins and increases the production of good antimicrobial proteins. Therefore, if one is experiencing severe eczema, their immune system is not functioning properly. Recent studies have shown that because of the lack of vitamin D present in the body, the immune system is not able to fight off any bacteria or virus that might cause irritation to the skin.  Lower vitamin D levels have been linked to more severe cases of eczema. Having a sufficient amount of vitamin D in your body, helps decrease inflammation and increase the strength of the skin’s barrier preventing the cause of eczema.

A study published in 2013 in Poland gave vitamin D supplements to adults with eczema who had low levels of vitamin D. The people all got 2000 IU of vitamin D daily for 3 months in the wintertime. The researchers looked at eczema severity and symptoms before and after supplementation and found that:

  • People with the lowest vitamin D levels had more skin infections.
  • After supplementing with vitamin D, the eczema symptoms and severity score was much lower.
  • People who took vitamin D supplements had significant improvements in skin lesions.

The researchers conclude that supplementing with vitamin D may help to manage and treat the skin symptoms associated with eczema. Vitamin D causes skin cells to make more antimicrobial proteins, which is why people with low levels of vitamin D tend to have more skin infections.

For more information on vitamin D testing or natural relief for eczema, please visit Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322.

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Filed under Allergies, Eczema, Food allergy, seattle naturopath, Skin Conditions, Vitamin D

How can food allergies worsen your seasonal allergies?

An allergy is a heightened sensitivity to some foreign object that enters the body. This causes the body’s immune system to overreact by trying to defend itself. The body would normally only react towards more harmful substances such as bacteria in the air, however if you are suffering from an allergy, then even the most harmless substances will cause the body’s overreaction. Allergens can stimulate the body’s immune response by breathing it in, touching it, or ingesting it from food. Once the body is exposed to the allergen, a wide range of immune responses and symptoms can occur. These vary from mild symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, stomach ache, fatigue, and itchy eyes. However, they can become more severe such as anaphylaxis.

One of the most common types of allergy is a food allergy. Food allergies cause the body to carry out an immune response after ingesting the food that they are allergic to. In fact, many types of foods may even cause an immune response to occur. This is due to the fact that many foods contain histamines. Histamines are what cause the immune response and if one is already suffering from seasonal allergies, certain foods may worsen and increase the severity of the symptoms.  Therefore, it is beneficial to not only stay away from foods that contain histamines, but it is also critical to know what types of food your body may be allergic to. Being informed of allergens will help one to avoid increasing and stimulating any other immune responses.

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms or want to receive an allergy test, call Dr. Lee at the Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center (206) 319 – 5322.

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Filed under Allergies, Digestion, Eczema, fatigue, Food allergy, headaches, Leaky gut syndrome, Skin Conditions, Uncategorized

Can eating eggplants (nightshades family) give you joint pain?

Potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers are just a few vegetables that all belong to the nightshade family. “Nightshade” is a term coined because most of these vegetables either grow in the shade or bloom during night. The nightshade family also belongs to the Solanaceae family. The vegetables that are part of this family all contain a certain chemical that is toxic to the body. Due to these toxins, the body is not able to digest it correctly and it may lead to inflammation and joint pain.

Specifically, nightshades contain a group of chemical compounds called alkaloids. Alkaloids are used as the plant’s self bug repellant. These chemicals are a defense mechanism that defends against insects and other pests. In high concentrations, these chemicals can be toxic to humans if ingested. However, alkaloids are mostly concentrated on the stems and leaves of the plant, which humans typically do not eat. Therefore, at lower doses many people will not feel the effect of toxic chemicals that the nightshade vegetables possess. However, people who are suffering from an autoimmune disease or digestive issues may experience a different effect. For these people the chemicals in these plants are foreign to the human body and the digestive system does not know how to digest these compounds. Therefore, the body initiates an immune response, which is detrimental for a person with an autoimmune disorder.

These chemicals are a natural pesticide. Therefore, ingesting these vegetables can cause damage to the intestines and the cells that line the walls. This leads to a syndrome called leaky gut, which can cause a plethora of responses such as inflammation and joint pain. In order to prevent these immune responses, one must cut out ingestion of nightshade vegetables. Relieving one’s body from these toxic chemicals will prevent the initiation of an immune response. Ultimately, one will begin see the positive effects such as reduced joint pain and inflammation.

If you want to learn more about the effects of nightshade vegetables or if you are experiencing joint pain, please call Dr. Lee at (206) 319 – 5322 or visit Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncutre Center

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Filed under Food allergy, IBD, IBS, Inflammation, Leaky gut syndrome, seattle naturopath

How can leaky gut affect you?

Continued stress, poor diet, and a surplus of toxins lead to a syndrome known as leaky gut. Leaky gut is when the lining in your intestinal tract becomes inflamed and starts to malfunction. The intestines start to absorb nutrients incorrectly and begin to bring in pathogens, toxins, and food particles that normally would not be allowed in. This malfunction leads to food sensitivities. Certain food particles and chemicals that are either partially digested or have not been digested yet are leaking out of the intestines and into the bloodstream, and thus, are causing allergic responses. This allergic response can lead to many other symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Acne, and other skin issues
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Variety of Digestive Issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and IBS)
  • Mental Health (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Joint pain
  • Frequent colds and sinus infections

There are many things that lead to leaky gut, however, ingestion of certain foods can increase the risk. Sugars, conventional cow’s milk, gluten, and food containing GMOs are just a few examples that raise the risk of acquiring leaky gut. These foods will weaken your gut, allowing the unneeded particles to leak out.

The inflammation of the GI tract leads to the malabsorption of nutrients. This triggers an immune response (allergic response), leading to multiple digestive issues and food intolerances. If the leaky gut is not properly treated, then it could lead to an autoimmune disease, such as Type 1 Diabetes.

In order to rid of this syndrome, one must remove any foods that might be causing the inflammation and incorporate healthier and healing foods into their daily diet. Probiotics are a great way to rid of bacteria that are unwanted and to replenish the good bacteria in your gut.

Contact Dr. Diane Lee at (206) 319-5322 or visit Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you are interested in food allergy testing.

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Filed under Digestion, Eczema, Food allergy, IBD, IBS, Leaky gut syndrome, seattle naturopath

Can food allergies lead to headaches?

A headache is something that almost everyone on the planet has endured at some point in his or her life. When people have a headache, they tend to think that it was brought about by the most talked about and most obvious triggers such as anxiety, noise, lack of sleep, medication, and dehydration. Although all of these are proven to be some popular causes of a headache, one of the most common triggers that tends to be overlooked is food and food sensitivities.

Food sensitivity is caused when the body incorrectly treats a certain food or food additive as a foreign substance, resulting in an immune response. When the immune system is triggered, it causes inflammation and increased blood flow to the affected area. The common factor in all headaches typically involves inflammation, which can potentially affect your head. The inflammation and therefore the headache will vanish once the triggering food is removed from the diet.

Many other foods can trigger headaches, even if you aren’t sensitive to the specific type of food. Some dairy products, especially cheese, contain a phosphoprotein called casein. Casein is a major trigger of migraines and headaches. They also contain a component called Tyramine. Tyramine can cause the nerve cells in your brain to release norepinephrine. This unusual amount of chemical change in the brain can be a major cause of headaches. Another food chemical that can cause headaches is Aspartame. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in diet sodas. It is considered an excitotoxin, meaning that it causes spasms in the neurons, which eventually damage and burn out the neurons in your brain causing a painful headache. Alcohol is also a very common headache trigger. Alcohol increases blood flow to the brain and induces dehydration, both of which can cause headaches.

Cheese, artificial sweeteners and alcohol are just a few of foods that are notoriously known for causing headaches. There are several natural methods to help treat and prevent headaches without the use of pain relievers and over the counter medication. One of the most common is acupuncture, which has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years. Acupuncture works very well with sinus, tension, and sleeping disorder headaches, and is also effective for migraine headaches. Acupuncture can help relax the patient and has a lasting effect on the prevention of headaches. Unlike synthetic drugs, acupuncture has generally no side effects and is minimally invasive.

Another natural remedy for headache treatment and prevention is taking magnesium. People who suffer from migraines and headaches usually have much lower levels of magnesium than people who don’t suffer from headaches. Magnesium is an important element in your body that is involved in numerous cell functions. A lack of magnesium may play a large role in the upbringing of a headache due to changes in neurotransmitter reactions and inflammation. Magnesium works especially well for tension headaches by relaxing the soft tissue in your brain and therefore reducing headache symptoms. Magnesium is a safe, inexpensive and natural way to help treat and prevent acute and chronic headaches.

If you are suffering from headaches, there is a high possibility that it may be due to your diet. If you are interested in finding out what foods may be triggering your headaches and want to establish an effective and natural treatment plan, please contact Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center at (206)-319-5322.

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Filed under Allergies, Food allergy, Inflammation, Leaky gut syndrome

Can food allergies lead to weight gain?

Food allergies and weight problems are intimately related. If you are having difficulty losing weight, it may be because you have a food allergy or sensitivity preventing you to do so. Inflammation occurs in response to many different stimuli including injuries, irritants and pathogens. It is a process where your body’s immune system responds by sending proteins and white blood cells to the irritated area in order to repair the damaged tissue. Inflammation from food allergies inactivates leptin, which is the body’s main weight control hormone. Your immune system produces anti-inflammatory chemicals to offset inflammation, and these chemicals restrict the ability of leptin to function properly. When you overeat, the leptin levels in your body rise, which results in an increased metabolic rate and a decrease in appetite. If you have inflammation due to a food allergy, this process does not occur, and it leaves you with a slow metabolic rate and a hungry appetite.

Eating foods that trigger an allergic reaction and inflammation also cause secretion of epinephrine from your adrenal glands, which triggers a hormonal cascade that ultimately results in the storage of fat rather than the breakdown of fat. Epinephrine causes glycogen (stored glucose) breakdown in the liver, which increases the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. When high sugar levels are detected, insulin is released. High levels of insulin activate the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which catalyzes the synthesis of fats. It also inhibits the enzyme triglyceride lipase, which is one of the important enzymes in the break down of stored fats.

If you have been struggling to lose weight and tried diet and exercise, there is a high possibility that it may be due to food allergies and intolerances. Food triggers can be easily identified by a simple blood test. If you are interested in identifying what foods could be causing inflammation and developing a personalized treatment plan, please contact Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center at (206)-319-5322

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Filed under Food allergy, Inflammation, Weight Loss

What are pro-inflammatory foods? Who should avoid them?

Inflammation occurs in response to many different stimuli including injuries, irritants and pathogens. It is a process where your body’s immune system responds by sending proteins and white blood cells to the irritated area in order to repair the damaged tissue. Blood vessels also dilate allowing an increase in blood flow to the area. This causes the symptoms of inflammation we usually see including pain, redness and swelling. Too much inflammation or inflammation of healthy tissue however can be unhealthy and cause numerous different diseases. Lack of exercise, stress, and smoking can all play a part in chronic inflammation. But one of the most important causes of inflammation is diet.

Pro-inflammatory foods are defined as any type of food that tends to cause inflammation. In general, there are about seven different food ingredients that can cause inflammation.

Sugars- soda, candy, deserts

Saturated fats- cheese, red meat, pizza

Trans fat- fast food, deep-fried foods, cookies, donuts

Omega 6 fatty acids- vegetable, corn, soy and peanut oil, mayonnaise

Refined carbs- rice, noodles, pasta, white rice and white flour products

Artificial sweeteners- aspartame, MSG (aspartame)

Alcohol- liquor, beer and wine


Who should avoid pro-inflammatory foods?

Although everyone should consider limiting their intake of pro-inflammatory foods, there are some who should avoid them more than others. Arthritis, eczema, Alzheimer’s, and acne are all conditions which inflammation can worsen symptoms. People who have high blood pressure, are obese, get frequent headaches, or is an athlete could also benefit from avoiding pro-inflammatory foods in their diet.

If you’re interested in having your diet assessed, please contact Dr. Lee at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322

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Filed under Arthritis, Digestion, Eczema, Food allergy, IBD, IBS, Inflammation

Where you get your food allergy testing matters!

The problem with the standard food allergy tests, run by most doctors, allergists, and dermatologists is that they missing out very important food allergy reactions in the testing methods. Most clinics tests for IgE reactions only, which is only found in a small population. Most food allergies are not IgE mediated but are rather IgG reactions or sometimes IgA reactions, such as in celiac disease.

 

IgE hypersensitivity immune response is commonly known as a food allergy.  This reaction typically occurs very quickly (minutes to hours) after eating an offending food and symptoms are generally severe.  Many are aware of food allergies causing anaphylaxis (the most common example being peanuts and kids) but they may also experience itchy lips/tongue/throat, stuffy nose, headaches, belly ache, diarrhea, gas, bloating, skin reactions, and sudden fatigue.  This test is typically done through the blood or a skin prick test. However most adults have their ‘trigger food’ figured out because the reaction is so quick.  If ice cream causes immediate diarrhea, or strawberries create lip swelling, and peanuts close your throat – one does not easily forget. It’s usually fairly obvious because the symptoms occur so quickly to the offending food.

 

IgG and IgA food allergy response is different from an immediate IgE food allergy response in that symptoms may not show up for hours or days after ingested offending food allergens. This makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what foods are causing what reaction in the body especially as people tend to eat the same foods over and over.  Symptoms of an IgG and IgA response include: sore throat, stuffy nose, congestion, headaches, belly aches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, hormone issues, foggy head, headaches, weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, depression, behavior changes, anxiety, and skin issues (particularly acne, eczema, psoriasis).  How do you know if dairy products cause your mental fogginess or gluten causes fatigue or almonds increase your acne if you eat them everyday?


Testing for IgG and IgA food allergies is confusing for many healthcare providers as they are not typically trained on these types of reactions as they are neither obvious nor life-threatening. However food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities are gaining public awareness as people are removing offending food groups in order to help support autism/spectrum disorder treatment plans, chronic diseases, and reduce inflammation in the body with success.

 

For more information about food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, please contact Dr. Lee at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322

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Filed under Allergies, Arthritis, Digestion, Eczema, fatigue, Food allergy, IBD, IBS, Inflammation, Leaky gut syndrome, Skin Conditions, Weight Loss