Do You Suffer from Food Allergies?

A food allergy is a hypersensitive reaction that occurs when the immune system overreacts to a substance that most other people find harmless. (Most often, it’s a protein, but even carbohydrates and lipids can affect an allergic response.) It’s like the emergency light on your car’s dashboard that suddenly flashes red, even though the engine’s maintenance is up to date. Food allergies and intolerances warn you that inflammatory foods aren’t compatible with your body. The warning may be perceived by your brain as serious stress.

If you have food allergies, the immune cells that line your gastrointestinal tract are hypersensitive. You may have low stomach acid, a pancreas that isn’t working optimally, and, possibly, a congested liver and gallbladder. You may also have an imbalance in your gut flora. The balance of gut bacteria can influence behavior and even cause depression.

According to scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, your gut bacteria communicate with your brain and have a profound impact on making you feel happy or sad. When you are stressed, your body releases lots of stress hormones. When stressed mice were fed a broth containing some Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria (a bacteria found in yogurt), they became significantly less anxious and had lower levels of stress hormones in their blood. The researchers determined that the bacteria were somehow communicating via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a very important neural two-way highway that connects your brain with all of the organs of your body. The bacteria are able to influence the GABA receptors in the brain that allow you to relax.

What may surprise you is that food allergies are linked to seemingly unrelated conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, eczema, or cardiovascular diseases. This is because your gut is lined with immune cells.

In fact, more than 70% of your immune system cells are located in your gastrointestinal lining.

The tissue lining the inside of your mouth down to the end of your bowels is composed of cells that help protect the rest of your body from parasites and other pathogens.

How it works is that when you eat a food you’re allergic to, intestinal immune cells perceive this food as a harmful invader. Your body goes into attack mode. Blood flow to the intestines increases so that leukocytes (white blood cells) can fight the allergen. The intestinal tissue becomes locally inflamed with a phalanx of cellular immune system soldiers. Inflammation causes the intestinal tissue and surrounding blood vessels to become more permeable. This increases the number of leukocytes that flood the areas initially exposed to the food allergen.

The most common causes of food allergies are dairy products, followed by corn, peanuts, soy, and shellfish, but almost any foodstuff eaten by human beings finds somewhere an individual who is allergic to it. These reactions are often subtle and difficult to recognize until the offending food has been eliminated, either by accident or by intention, and then, later, when the body is challenged with the suspect food, a recognizably adverse reaction occurs.

If you are interested in learning how to keep a food journal to discover your own allergies, head to my website for a free six-page report and food pyramid.

By cutting out your food allergies, you can let go of anxiety and find happiness naturally!

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts The Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her first book, Meals that Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process. Check out more amazing recipes, nutrition tips, and her Anti-Inflammatory Quick Start Program at and follow her on Facebook at Julie Daniluk Nutrition and on Twitter @juliedaniluk.