Food sensitivity can cause asthma, eczema, migraine, arthritis, depression, behaviour and learning problems, diarrhea, gallstones, tiredness, fluid retention, weight fluctuation, food craving, obesity, catarrh, epilepsy, mouth ulcers, recurrent abdominal pain, Crohn’s disease, skin roughness, and urticaria.
Sometimes it is easy to relate the symptom to a particular food, but often the link is not obvious, you may be sensitive to many foods and to the very foods you crave most. Pinning down a “culprit” food can be difficult if it is one you eat all the time, or if your symptoms are vague or longstanding.
One difficulty with tracking down a “culprit” food is that symptoms may appear within seconds, minutes, hours, or days. Food sensitivity maybe triggered by one of the first foods given as a baby. There may be vague symptoms after eating the food (such as flushing, red ears, diarrhoea, irritability, or stomach ache), but these tend to subside.
However, days, months, or even years later, that same food can trigger symptoms once more. A poor diet, lack of sleep, infection, distress, digestive problems, extremes of temperature, a smoky or polluted atmosphere, certain medicinal drugs, and pollutants in food may together weaken your immune system and cause it to react unusually to a normally innocuous food.
Food sensitivity may occur after gastroenteritis, antibiotic drugs, malnutrition. In colic disease the bowel cannot absorb gluten. This commonly starts in infancy and can also follow gastroenteritis. The commonest “culprits” with asthma are manufactured “fruit” and fizzy drinks, nuts, sodium benzoate, milk, eggs, wheat, cheese, yeast, fish, and fried food.
Possible “culprits” with migraine include oranges, chocolate, sugar, cheese, alcohol (especially red wine), wheat, eggs, coffe, tea, cola, milk, beef, corn, yeast, pickled fish, cured meat, bananas, broad beans, sausages, sauerkraut, and liver.
One in ten migraine sufferers is food sensitive. Try cutting out caffeine, alcohol and added sugar first. If you have migraine your blood may be abnormally “sticky” . Citric acid, found in cola and citrus fruit, can cause depression, confusion, hyperactivity, anxiety, clumsiness, and tiredness. It has also been linked with schizophrenia.
Identify “culprit” foods with an exclusion diet. You may not have to avoid these foods forever, though colic sufferers need professional advice. Sometimes, after avoiding the food for several
months, it is possible to reintroduce it gradually, though you may only be able to eat it every few days.
Your symptoms may worsen after stopping the food, but continued avoidance brings relief. Ideally breastfeed completely for at least six months, especially if there is a family history of allergy. Avoid large amounts of any one food when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Delay giving your baby wheat until eight months; citrus fruits and juices until nine months; fish ten months; cows’ milk eleven months; eggs one year; and nuts, fruit, and vegetables with pips or seeds even longer. Lower your risk of food sensitivity by avoiding refined and processed foods.
More essential fatty acids may help, and extra foods rich in vitamins A and C may be useful as well. Some food sensitive people produce insufficient gastric acid. This can lead to poor absorption of nutrients such as calcium and iron and it may help to eat meat at different times from carbohydrates; have some vinegar with meat, fish and eggs, and eat more foods containing niacin.
If you have been eating poorly, you may be short of iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B, so eat more foods rich in these nutrients until you are better. Cutting down on alcohol may help. Foods rich in vitamin B6 may make asthma less likely, and foods rich in selenium may improve eczema (watercress may help, too).
Foods rich in vitamins B6, C, and E, and garlic and ginger may help migraine. These, along with essential fatty acids, reduce the stickiness of the blood. Feverfew leaves relieve some migraine headaches.