Do you ever wonder if the food you’re eating is harming you? Many of us have food allergies; some, like an allergy to peanuts, can be life-threatening. This is an extreme case, but there’s another type of allergy that isn’t exactly an allergy, though we sometimes refer to it that way: food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities and intolerances are mediated by different processes in the body, causing symptoms like headaches, an upset stomach, fatigue, and rashes. They lack the rapid onset typical of allergies, often taking one to two days to manifest themselves. They can also modify behavior and mood. Food intolerances are directly related to digestive problems caused by the lack of a specific enzyme. Lactose intolerance is a very common example.
I once saw a 7-month-old infant who had been diagnosed with eczema. The parents had tried cortisone cream, but it only worked initially and simply suppressed the immune system, masking the symptoms.
Food sensitivities … have been documented in approximately
one third of children with eczema
As it turns out, eczema can be caused by food sensitivities. The latter have been documented in approximately one third of children with eczema. The skin is the largest organ of detoxification in the body, and one way challenges in the system are manifested is through rashes. Cow’s milk, eggs, peanut, wheat, soy, nuts, and fish are responsible for over 90 percent of food allergies. However, there are children who don’t fit the criteria for an allergy but still improve when the above-mentioned foods are eliminated from their diet; this is very likely due to a food sensitivity.
Going back to the baby with eczema, we looked to food sensitivities as the culprit. I recommended removing some of commonly allergenic foods from the mother’s diet like dairy, eggs and wheat while being careful to avoid nutritional deficiencies. I also prescribed a homeopathic remedy for the baby and some supplements for the mom; studies show that probiotic supplementation for the mother can benefit breastfed babies with eczema. After six weeks of treatment, the dry, scaly skin and rashes had subsided. The patient was 90 percent better and no longer needed to use cortisone cream.
When this baby begins to eat solids, foods that are known to be allergenic must be carefully introduced in order to avoid a flare-up. The good news is that after a period of avoidance, most children end up outgrowing food allergies and sensitivities.
Pay attention to your child’s diet. Do you notice any physical symptoms or behaviors associated with a particular food? Does the child have any strong cravings? If so, a food sensitivity or allergy may be to blame.
Photos: Daniella Segura (Flickr)