Food allergy is very common in today leading to health complicacy. It can also triggers autoimmune disease.Here our aim is to find out how and what do food allergies do to your body, symptoms and major food allergens.
Before that should know.
What is food allergy?
A food allergy occurs when body’s immune defense consider certain food as foreign invader and begins to. This usually occurs when the body identify a food protein as pathogen which is difficult to digest. Body’s immune system target to attack invading organism of the protein and thus an allergic reaction begins.
Don’t confuse food allergy with food intolerance. Food intolerance occurs when the body lack particular enzyme or enzymes to digest a food. Other the other hand in food allergy body’s immune system reacts with a particular food. Milk is a good example of this case. People lacking enzyme lactase unable to digest milk starch lactose leads to milk intolerance. For the case of milk allergy body’s immune response reacts with milk protein rather than lactose. However it should kept in mind that food intolerance can also call immune action.
How and what do food allergies do to your body
Allergens are usually protein which is difficult to digest. And if your stomach acid is weaker than that it should be it fuels the indigestion process of protein and some other nutrients.
Allergen like milk and other allergic protein, in-tolerated food that reaches your bowl in undigested or partially digested condition can irritate and trigger inflammation inside the intestinal inner lining, punches hole resulting to hypermeability or also called leaky gut syndrome.
You should know that GI tract is an extension of the body to the outside world. And it is designed to allow vital nutrient to pass through intestinal lining to the circulatory system of the body through blood. But it keeps out foreign body like foreign protein, bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins from your circulation system. Similarly it also keeps undigested protein inside the GI tract. But you may become vulnerable to those foreign bodies when your intestinal lining is damage.
Opening a door to autoimmune disease
Foreign bodies or allergens can manage to pass through the intestinal lining to the blood circulatory system in sensitive people or people with leaky gut syndrome. This may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort to extreme allergic reaction. Your immune system identifies those as foreign invader and for that reason it begins to attack those bodies by producing antibodies. It can goes even worse when immune system attacks body’s own tissues leading to autoimmune disease. Immune system identifies body’s own tissue of similar structure with foreign body as foreign invader and thus continues to attack those tissues. Such autoimmune diseases include RA, lupus erythematosus, multiple selerosis, ulcerative colitis and more. (1) This is also called molecular mimicry.
When immune cells attack synovial tissue around a joint it is called rheumatoid arthritis.If tissues of lines or covers the bowel is attacked, this can trigger crohn’s or colitis. When immune system attack tissue of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, it may lead to multiple selerosis and so on. (2)
Gut microbiota or gut bacteria plays a critical rules here in well functioning of immune system. Good bacteria in intestinal lining take part in maturing properly the immune cells developed at gut associated lymphoid tissue(GALT) and well functioning of immune cells. Beneficial gut bacteria help killer immune cells to learn difference between foreign invader and body’s own tissue. If you have imbalance of beneficial gut bacteria these conditions may go further complicated and thus these can result in opening a door to autoimmune disease.(3, 4)
Common allergic symptoms include (5)
●Skin – Itching, flushing, hives or swelling
●Eyes – Itching, tearing, redness, or swelling of the skin around the eyes
●Nose and mouth – Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, swelling of the tongue, or a metallic taste
●Lungs and throat – Difficulty getting air in or out, repeated coughing, chest tightness, wheezing or other sounds of labored breathing, increased mucus production, throat swelling or itching, hoarseness, change in voice, or a sensation of choking
●Heart and circulation – Dizziness, weakness, fainting, rapid, slow, or irregular heart rate, or low blood pressure
●Digestive system – Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea
●Nervous system – Anxiety, confusion, or a sense of impending doom
Major Source of Food allergy
- Cow’s milk
- Crustacean shellfish
- tree nuts
You can also read Is cow milk bad for you and your child?
Take home message
Source of allergen may vary person to person. A food may cause allergy to a person may not be allergic to an another one. It is always better to identify and avoid the food to which your body respond an allergic reaction. Gluten is the protein hard to digest found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and some oats. Genetic modification may make it even stronger and hard to digest. When considerable amount of gluten enters into the blood stream your immune system becomes high alert which trigger inflammation. This condition may further lead to autoimmune disease. Thus avoid gluten containing food such as wheat, barley, rye and other genetically modified food as far as possible. Similarly and A1 beta-casein protein of cow milk (A1 variant milk) is not suitable for human consumption and can lead to health complications.
Toxic food additives or preservatives can cause inflammation in intestinal lining and may make you vulnerable to autoimmune disease.
Sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment used to people with allergic reaction by application drops under the tongue. It is considered to be safe for both adults and children. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection immunotherapy. (6) People with allergic reaction should under go such therapy only after consultation of healthcare provider with proper knowledge of the subject.
Source & reference: 1. Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You-Jonathan V. Wright,Lane Lenard 2. Allergy and multiple sclerosis: a population-based case-control study, Pedotti R, Farinotti M, Falcone C, Borgonovo L, Confalonieri P, Campanella A, Mantegazza R, Pastorello E, Filippini G., Mult Scler. 2009 Aug;15(8):899-906
3. The Immune System Recovery Plan-Susan Blum 4. The Good Gut-Justin and Erica Sonnenburg 5. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/food-allergy-symptoms-and-diagnosis- beyond-the-basics?view=print 6.https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/otolaryngology/specialty_areas/sinus_cent er/sublingual_immunotherapy.html