ALLERGIES, SENSITIVITIES, INTOLERANCES…..household words to us now, but when I was a child growing up and even into my nursing days, these were uncommon words, words that were hardly ever used and certainly not linked to any illness other than perhaps asthma. Asthma sufferers were commonly reactive to house dust, dust mite, pollens and animal dander’s; foods weren’t on the list though.
Nowadays almost everyone you meet seems to have some form of intolerance to a food or chemical. Certainly, in my clinic every day I see people suffering from a vast range of symptoms and without exception when I change their diet, their symptoms start to subside.
So I am going to be bold enough to state that I believe everyone – yes everyone – has a sensitivity or intolerance to one or more foods that they are consuming, and it is often being consumed on a daily basis. And it is, in my opinion, compromising their health, often seriously!
A true allergic response to foods is actually very rare and only a very small percentage of the population is affected. On the other hand, food intolerances are very common. For the purposes of this article, I will mostly refer to everything as an allergy – simply because it is generally what people refer to when talking about any form of allergic response, intolerance or sensitivity to any substance.
An allergy response is generally thought to trigger a reaction from the immune system in susceptible people and can actually be life threatening to some (an anaphylactic reaction), and yet be harmless to the majority of the population. Anaphylaxis is the term used for a life-threatening reaction, which can cause swelling of the tongue and throat, constriction of the airways can lower blood pressure and can cause death. Thankfully very few of the population fall into this category.
An intolerance or sensitivity is generally thought to be a problem with digestion or metabolism and does not involve the stimulation of the immune system. Lactose is a good example of a food intolerance. The digestive system can’t break down the lactose and the body may respond with diarrhoea, colic-like pains, excessive flatulence and bloating. These reactions can differ from day to day depending on the exposure or amounts consumed.
Intolerances can be temporary, depending on the treatments the person receives, and are generally not life threatening – but can certainly be lifestyle threatening! If left untreated, however, the continued stress on the body can lead to serious health problems.
Very often the symptoms of an intolerance or sensitivity are the common everyday symptom that we learn to ‘put-up’ with. Tiredness, headaches, aches and pains, itchy skin, mouth ulcers, bloating, occasional diarrhoea, forgetfulness, irritability, mood swings. When presenting to a doctor these patients can often be labelled as a hypochondriac, as blood tests don’t necessarily show any problems.
It is quite obvious that over the last 30 years or so, there has been a huge increase in the number of people suffering from allergies or intolerances. Of course reactions to pollens, flowers, grasses, animals, dust, dust mites, cockroaches and other insects have been well known, however, chemicals and in particular reactions to the ever humble foods that we all consume on a daily basis are emerging as a very real and serious threat to our health and well-being.
I have been working in the field of allergies for 23 years. When I first started practising I hardly ever had to treat tiny babies or toddlers under the age of 3. Now I see them every week. And over the last six years, the reactions are becoming more and more severe.
In particular, I now see many very tiny babies with severe eczema, and many young children are now developing allergies to a multitude of foods and nuts, peanuts in particular. Peanut allergy can cause an anaphylactic reaction in susceptible individuals. Many childcare centres and schools have now forbidden any form of a nut to be taken to school. WHAT has changed that could possibly be a factor in our precious children becoming so allergic? Adults don’t get off so lightly either. More and more adolescents and adults are developing food sensitivities. Foods they have consumed for many years are starting to affect them adversely. Why is this happening?
WHY are we becoming so allergic?
There is no simple answer to this problem. It is incredibly complex and includes a lot of differing factors, however, basically, I believe these reactions are happening because of the complete overload on our bodies.
There are thousands of chemicals used in our environment and directly on our bodies. They are in our water, in the air that we breathe, in our body care products, in our foods – meat, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables. We use many chemicals every day in our homes and gardens with very little thought of the toxicity to us and our children and particularly to the unborn child.
Where are the tests to show that using fly spray and at the same time using a bench cleanser or shower cleanser, and then using bleach to clean your toilet is safe? There aren’t any. How about the chemicals in toothpaste that get absorbed into our body almost immediately via the mucosa? We are slowly poisoning ourselves every day – overloading our bodies with chemicals. Inhaling them, absorbing them through our skin. No wonder our bodies can’t cope and more and more of us are developing allergies and immune related problems.
A study done by the Environmental Working Group in the US in 2004 revealed that newborn babies have 287 chemicals circulating in their bodies before they are born! The fetal cord blood was tested on 10 healthy babies. These chemicals, they stated in their report, are linked to many chronic health problems. What can you say to that? Our babies are being born already compromised. And then they are given Hep B vaccine at birth! No wonder there is a greater number of children with serious health problems and serious allergic reactions!
In my opinion, one of the main contributing factors to the increase in infantile eczema and the increase in severe allergic reactions to peanuts in infants and toddlers is the introduction of the Hep B vaccine. I don’t have the funds to do research into this, but I do know what I see in clinical practice, and there appears to be a definite link.
Three very common chemicals that are certainly harmful to the human body and used on a daily basis are:
- Formaldehyde; which is a known carcinogen, is found in many cosmetics products and household materials such as particle board, plywood, curtains and carpets, also in new clothing and new cars (which by the way can take up to 2 years to dissipate from that lovely new car!) Our vaccinations also contain this chemical.
- Chlorine; added to our water to kill harmful bacteria and water-borne disease. Unfortunately, if it kills bacteria in water if also has the potential to kill the good bacteria in our digestive system. Hence, in my opinion, is one of the causes of the increases in human candida overgrowth that we now see, and definitely a factor in the breakdown of our health in general.
- Fluoride; found in many substances that are consumed daily such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, our drinking water, soft drinks, some bottled waters, some teas. Fluoride affects the nervous system and our immune system.
Also, consider two very common factors that are also an assault on our immune systems:
- Antibiotics; which kill not only the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria, disturbing our digestion and absorption abilities, which will aid in facilitating the overgrowth of Candida albicans, which can leave us more vulnerable to moulds and yeasts, and generally more sensitive to foods.
- Vaccinations; in my opinion, one of the main downsides of vaccinations are the chemicals that are added to the solution. These chemicals and additives can vary from vaccine to vaccine. Formaldehyde, Thimerosal, Aluminium hydroxide, Aluminium Phosphate, Ammonium sulphate, Neomycin, Sorbitol, Sodium Chloride, Yeast, Phenoxyethanol (antifreeze), Potassium monophosphate, Potassium diphosphate, and probably much more! Where are the scientific tests to prove that putting all these substances into our body, especially our tiny babies, is safe? And what of the accumulative effect on our body? No wonder we are developing more and more intolerances, allergies and becoming more and more immune compromised!
And last but not least:
- Foods we consume; this is a whole book in itself! In fact an encyclopaedia! Our foods are often contaminated with pesticides and herbicides and of course, with the additives and preservatives used in food processing. We are what we eat, and sadly many of our foods are not safe. If we took all of the foods out of the supermarkets that weren’t really good for us we wouldn’t need supermarkets! ANY chemical added to a food will have an effect on our body and therefore our health. If you look at all the chemicals used in the fertilisers, the sprays as crops are growing or the drenches, chemicals and antibiotics used on animals, the processing of our foods which can deplete the nutrients from it and the preservatives, colours, flavours used to maintain the end result, you must ask – what are we really eating?
Where are the scientific tests to show that the use of a multitude of chemicals is safe for us to consume? There aren’t any. It’s not really rocket-science to see why there are so many allergic reactions and so many degenerative diseases in our society. Why is it when there is so much money poured into medical research still chronic degenerative disease is on the increase?
Which foods cause food allergy?
The most common food problems that I encounter in my clinic are dairy products, yeast, wheat, sugar, eggs, peanuts, shellfish and tomatoes. Occasionally fish, oranges, chocolate, tea and coffee, grapes, mushrooms, other nuts and dried fruits can also present problems. However, the list is almost endless and there are many other foods that can affect some people. I have seen people react to carrots and sweet potato, even rice! Food additives, colourings and preservatives are also very reactive for most people.
What are the symptoms of food allergy?
There is no hard and fast rule with how a food can affect someone. Because we all have a tolerance level that is completely unique to each of us, and from day to day will change depending on what we have eaten, what stresses we have in our life, the immediate environment we are in, what virus or bugs we have been exposed to, what chemicals we have been exposed to (just walk through a perfume section in a department store and you will know what I mean!) and our biochemical make-up and our genetic ability to deal with everything we are exposed to all at the same time, will influence how our body reacts. You may consume, for instance, tomato today and have no reaction, yet tomorrow you may react to it! You might have tomato at breakfast time and be fine, yet have that tomato at dinner and you may have a reaction! You could wear a perfume today and be ok, and yet tomorrow that same perfume might give you a headache.
Symptoms that can be caused, triggered or worsened by the foods we consume.
Four Stages of Allergy
This is a stage of alarm for the body. The tolerance level has been broken through and the symptoms are now becoming obvious. The body becomes quite stressed in trying to deal with this new situation. Any symptom can arise at any age. Most of us fit into this stage.
Due to the continuing frequent exposure to the offending substance, the body seems to have worked out how to deal with it, and the symptoms subside. You might have heard it said that little Johnny will grow out of his asthma or eczema in a few years, and sure enough, this is what appears to happen. What has actually happened however is that the reactions have become masked or disguised. The body has adapted! Our body is truly amazing. There really do appear to be no symptoms at all.
This stage sees the return of symptoms. It could be the same symptoms or brand new symptoms. It is very common for an adolescent or adult who had, for instance, asthma as a child, to have it again as they get older, or to have eczema instead. Asthma and eczema are very close cousins. It is also quite usual for the symptoms to be a lot worse at this stage. The body has tried to cope with and deal with the over exposure to the offending substance. The tolerance level is over-burdened so often, that the body’s defences seem to give up. It takes a lot more work in this stage to clear up the symptoms than it would have taken if stage one had been properly dealt with.
Stage four is the stage of addiction. The symptoms are only obvious if the food is not eaten. This is a very common reason that people who try going on a diet and have to give up their bread or alcohol or chocolate, only last a couple of days before they break out. They feel most uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, without the substance in their body. This is the most common reason for going off a diet or a healthy eating plan that I know of. Once the offending substance is consumed, the feelings of withdrawal disappear, and the person seems to feel better. Of course, that is what is happening on one level. Underneath, the body is extremely stressed and if the consumption continues, the body is without a doubt on a downhill ride. It is just a matter of time before something will give up, and some form of the disease will manifest.
What can we do to heal our body?
- Find out what your body is intolerant to and avoid those substances. This will free your entire system and allow your body to start to heal itself.
- Consume organic foods as much as possible. Even the supermarkets are now carrying a greater range of organic products.
- Stop consuming ‘junk’ food.
- Drink pure water.
- Stop consuming cow milk and all products made from milk. It is the most reactive food that I see.
- If you are planning to have a baby, have yourself allergy tested and if you do have sensitivities avoid them while pregnant.
- Don’t give babies and toddlers under the age of 2 any wheat, yeast, sugar or cow products.
- Remove as much of the chlorine contamination from our environment and body as we can. Fortunately, chlorine is easily removed from our water. So let it keep killing bacteria and water borne disease in our main water supply, but don’t allow it into our homes. We can filter it out so simply by having a good water filter and a shower filter.
- Change your toothpaste to a fluoride free brand.
- Stop using chemically laden skin care, hair and body products.
- Stop using chemical cleaners in the home and garden. See my recipe below for a very effective general household cleaner.
- Avoid having antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. There are many extremely effective herbs that can be taken instead.
- De-stress your life as much as possible. Stress can be both good and bad, however, the typical ‘bad’ stress responses can cause ill health. At the very least learn to meditate and do it on a daily basis. Contact us if you wish to learn how to meditate.
- At least one month of the year do a healthy detox and treat your body for candida, fungus, parasites and worms.
I wish you the very best of health and happiness,
Molly's Household Cleanser