Do you sneeze around cats or break out in a rash after eating a particular food? If you do, you may be suffering from an allergy. Allergies are common, but in recent years, studies have revealed that rates have increased throughout the world. In fact, allergies now affect up to 35% of people at some stage in their lives.
Food allergies in particular have significantly increased amongst children. Whilst many children do grow out of their allergies by adulthood, there are allergies that are lifelong and can be a nuisance to live with.
What is an allergy?
Allergy – a reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.
Sensitivity – the exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance; for example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.
Intolerance – where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhea, but doesn’t involve the immune system; people with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a small amount without having any problems.
An allergen can be anything – eggs, nuts, shellfish, dust, pollen, insect venom, pharmaceutical drugs, mold as well as household chemicals and hair dyes are common allergens. Allergic reactions can range from a broad range of inflammation from swollen skin to swollen sinuses airways and digestive system, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and anaphylaxis.
What causes allergies?
The number of people with allergies increases every year and we are not sure why. Nor do we know conclusively what causes them. There are several theories:
The theory is that the Western high calorie, low fibre diet has resulted in less biodiversity in our gut flora, making people more susceptible to developing allergies and other illnesses. Coupled with widespread antibiotic use it may have altered the body’s immune function and created allergies.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk to develop allergies. Several studies show that the further away you live from the equator (lower level of sunlight exposure needed to make Vitamin D) – or low vitamin D blood levels increase your risk of developing allergies.
This theory suggests that sanitation measures and vaccines may have decreased our exposure to a variety of bacteria may have opened the door to these other ailments. The idea that cases of allergies are increasing in number and severity because children grow up in environments that are simply too clean.
This theory implies that we are now exposing our children to common allergens, such as nuts and shellfish, too late in life, thereby causing them to develop allergies to these foods.
While we have treatments for the symptoms of allergy, we do not yet have a cure or the ability to prevent them from developing in the first place. What we can control however, is our lifestyle and diet, to minimize the chances of developing an allergy:-
Diet – eat less processed food that is high in sugar and low in fibre. Eat less meat and more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Drugs – treating symptoms with drugs such as antobiotics may not be the only solution. Perhaps consider alternative forms of medicine and approaches to your problem.
Vitamin D – Get in the sun and produce some much needed Vitamin D that helps your body’s immune system.
A comprehensive food allergy test panel can be quite costly, the most practical way to deal with this is to conduct an elimination diet to help you discover which particular food you are allergic to.
Find out more about how you can keep existing or new allergies at bay at Sante Sanctuary.