Functional Medicine For Food Allergies

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Functional medicine can be an incredibly successful treatment for food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. The aim is to correct the underlying biochemical imbalance so your body functions at peak performance.

Food allergies occur when the immune system of a person recognizes certain proteins in food as harmful and produces antibodies. This can manifest as hives, skin rashes or asthma symptoms.

Restoring Digestive Function

A functional medicine approach will include an extensive evaluation of your symptoms and history to identify the root cause. The aim is to restore digestive function and boost your immunity, so you can feel better, resolve health issues, and enhance quality of life.

A healthy digestive tract allows your body to efficiently break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates found in food. This is essential for absorption of essential nutrients for optimal health. When your digestion is compromised due to low levels of digestive enzymes, irregular gut motility (diarrhoea or constipation), or lack of gastric hydrochloric acid production, it becomes difficult for the body to absorb essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal wellbeing.

Restoring digestion requires eliminating foods that cause inflammation in your gut. These include gluten, dairy products, corn and soy products as well as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, yeast and other irritants that disrupt the microbiome of your digestive tract.

It is also essential to eliminate any toxins that have built up in the gut, such as environmental chemicals, heavy metals and antibiotics. These toxins can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria within the gut, leading to a condition known as leaky gut. Leaky gut has been linked to many common health issues like acne, joint pain, mental fog and fatigue, migraines, weight gain and other chronic issues.

Functional medicine can assist in healing your leaky gut and relieving gut inflammation. It utilizes natural compounds to encourage Treg cell growth – part of your immune system’s regulatory system – which are necessary for successful healing.

These cells are responsible for controlling your immune response to allergens. They can suppress allergic symptoms through various mechanisms, such as decreasing Th-2 cytokine levels and mast cell degranulation.

These Treg cells can also increase the production of anti-inflammatory molecules that reduce allergy symptoms and inflammation in the body. They do this through various metabolites and bioactive factors like Baicalein.

Correcting Immune Imbalance

Functional medicine can help address an immune imbalance that causes seasonal allergy symptoms by restoring digestive function and rebalancing the body’s innate immunity.

Food allergies are usually IgE-mediated and manifest when your body is exposed to even a trace amount of the allergen, usually within minutes. In extreme cases, these reactions can be life-threatening.

In some cases, people will not develop an allergic response to certain foods. This is known as a food sensitivity and may be less serious than an actual allergy, but it still may have undesirable side effects.

To address a food sensitivity, it’s essential to restore the body’s balance of beneficial bacteria and fungus in the gut. Studies have demonstrated that imbalances in this microbiome have been linked to illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies and autoimmune conditions.

A weak digestive tract that allows toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream is a major risk factor for many autoimmune diseases. When inflammation occurs in this environment, inflammatory cells and cytokines are activated which may lead to allergy, asthma and other autoimmunity symptoms.

Functional medicine labs can detect a wide range of factors that could contribute to an immune imbalance. These include microbial flora imbalances, food toxins, stress, nutrient deficiencies and other risk factors which could increase your likelihood for developing an autoimmune disorder.

These factors can be addressed through clinical laboratory testing, supplementation and taking steps to reduce inflammation. Eating more fruits and vegetables and following a Mediterranean diet are two ways you can lower the inflammation linked to autoimmune disorders.

Another useful way to detect an immune imbalance is by monitoring C-reactive protein, a molecule which indicates your body’s inflammatory responses. Levels of this inflammatory protein tend to be higher in people with food allergies or autoimmune disorders.

The immune system’s role is to identify and eliminate foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungus. When the immune system becomes overextended, it begins attacking its own tissues and organs which may result in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease and thyroid disorder, among others.

Reducing Inflammation and Immune Stress

An imbalanced immune system is often at the origin of many inflammatory diseases, such as food allergies and autoimmune disorders. This could be due to nutrient deficiencies or long-standing chronic infections. Functional medicine offers a proven solution for these issues to address them head on.

A functional medicine approach can help reduce inflammation and boost health resilience. The initial step in this process is restoring digestive function, so your body can digest foods properly and absorb essential nutrients. You can achieve this through various means such as adding fibre into your diet, eliminating inflammatory grains or adding pre- and probiotics.

Once digestion has been restored, you can address an underlying immune imbalance. This arises when T helper cells mount an overzealous Th2 (T helper cell)-mediated response that mistakenly attacks harmless antigens like bacteria and viruses encountered regularly in daily life. When your immune cells become disorganized, they mistakenly identify these proteins as “foreign,” leading to allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases in susceptible individuals.

An overly active immune response can also cause chronic inflammation, which has been linked to other chronic health issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Another source of inflammation is toxins your body is exposed to on a daily basis. These irritants can come in the form of food, water, or personal products.

These toxins can be broken down by our bodies, but they also get absorbed through the gut lining, triggering an inflammatory reaction. While inflammation has its place in fighting off bacterial and viral infections, when left unchecked it may lead to more serious health conditions.

One way to reduce inflammation is through stress reduction, which can be accomplished in several ways. Try meditation, exercise, deep breathing or even journaling for a relaxed mind and body.

Adequate sleep is also critical for combatting inflammation. Sleep helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which in turn has an impact on your immune system.

Finally, eliminating toxins from your life – particularly those derived from food or environmental sources – can significantly lower the burden on your immune system and alleviate inflammatory symptoms. This includes limiting exposure to BPA and mercury found in canned foods, certain fish species such as sushi, glycol ethers found in paint and household cleaners, along with BPA in canned foods, certain fish varieties like tuna and sushi; additionally to glycol ethers present in paint and cleaners for household purposes.

Reducing Symptoms

Functional medicine can effectively relieve food allergy symptoms, particularly for those with compromised immune systems. This is because holistic healing takes care of the underlying issue rather than simply masking symptoms with medications.

Your healthcare provider may conduct a physical exam, skin test or blood testing to identify which foods are causing your symptoms. A skin prick test is the most common, where an amount of the suspected food is placed on either your arm or back and then poked with a needle to expose any tissue beneath.

A positive skin test indicates you may have an allergy to the suspected food. Your doctor may suggest antihistamines to reduce the severity of your symptoms and epinephrine for treating anaphylactic reactions.

The first step to a healthy weight is eating whole foods, eliminating processed and packaged items as well as alcohol and caffeine. Doing this is essential because these foods cause inflammation, weaken the immune system, and create digestive issues.

It is also beneficial to add foods that contain quercetin and anthocyanin, both of which possess antihistamine properties. Examples include broccoli, red onions and berries. Eating these can help reduce your risk for anaphylactic reactions by suppressing mast cells and other immune system cells that release histamine, making you less vulnerable to allergic reactions.

A study revealed that individuals who consumed a diet high in quercetin were much more likely to avoid anaphylactic reactions than those on a low-quercetin diet.

Eating foods rich in selenium and magnesium can be beneficial to managing allergy symptoms. These minerals help balance the immune system, while acting as natural antihistamines that can prevent or relieve hives, itching, and swelling.

Furthermore, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is recommended, as these are packed with antioxidants which can reduce inflammation in your body. Furthermore, they protect cells from damaging free radicals released during an allergy attack.

Consider taking a supplement that contains all these vitamins and minerals, as it can improve your overall wellbeing by relieving inflammation, strengthening the immune system, regulating digestion and encouraging healthy gut bacteria – helping your body operate at peak performance levels.

For more information or if you would like to discuss treatment and management with Dr Stavy then please contact us via