Food Allergy Types
You can pretty much be sensitive to anything, but in this section I will try to put some info for you on the various known food groups that can cause problems.
Nightshades or Solanaceae
I first came across this type of food sensitivity in relation to arthritis pain and it does indeed seem to make joint pain worse. They contain alkaloids, saponins and lectins which, for some people, especially those with leaky gut and/or autoimmune disease, can wreak havoc.
Main symptoms tend to centre around joint and muscle pain, digestive problems, headaches and mood issues, especially erratic swings and depression. Insomnia and poor healing have also been linked.
- Potatoes (not sweet ones)
- Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, paprika, pimento etc, but not black, pink or white peppercorns.)
- Goji berry
- Tamarillos and Tomatillos
- Ashwaganda (a herb)
For more information, see the round-up of articles on Nightshade Allergy on FoodsMatter:
By rights, this should really be termed histamine excess as that’s what it actually is. I have come across this more and more recently. In many, it is caused by not having enough of the required enzymes like DAO (diamine oxidase) to break histamine down in the body.
I have written a few articles on this subject and been interviewed about it. See:
Could it be Histamine? An article I wrote for FoodsMatter, who also have a great round-up on histamine intolerance here. They have also set up a Q&A on histamine intolerance with Dr Janice Joneja, which is very useful too.
The best Histamine Foods List we have come across – voted by my Facebook groups is this one from a Swiss source: Histamine & Mast Cell Food List. You can see their website histaminintoleranz too here.
There is an excellent review all about DAO here:
|Diamine Oxidase (DAO): what you need to know|
Here, too, is an excellent factsheet all about HIT (Histamine Intolerance) from Nutrigold. Their factsheets are really rather good and this one is no exception.
Histamine Intolerance Tests
You can test for histamine blood levels and DAO enzyme levels if you need to here.
Histamine testing is far from perfect yet but we can at least see what level of histamine you have in your system and if you have enough of the DAO enzyme needed to break it down.
I can do those tests separately but you get the right info if you have them both done as in the Histamine Intolerance test, so that’s what I’ve listed.
Don’t be thrown by the name ‘intolerance’ though, this is a misnomer, what we are actually testing for is body levels of histamine and your levels of DAO.
Incidentally, you can measure histamine levels in blood or urine now just as effectively. The test is done in blood plasma or urine. I will do urine unless you ask for blood. The DAO is blood anyway.
Some people have more of a problem than others absorbing fructose from fruit/fruit juice. It can cause lots of bloating and gut symptoms and is linked to gut pain/IBS, especially in children. It is linked to, but not necessarily the same as, FODMAP issues.
The main fruits involved are generally:
High fructose corn syrup
Although the list is a lot longer than that. You can read a great Fructose Intolerance and FODMAP Primer here, which gives the longer list too.
You can test it nowadays using a hydrogen breath test. Note that, as Janice says in her primer above, it is important that tests do not give too much fructose as everyone would then have a problem with digesting it! This test I have linked to gives 25mg fructose, as she suggests.
MSG/Monosodium Glutamate Intolerance
Rather than reinvent the wheel, here is a good website that will help explain the issue and give you all the sneaky names used for MSG on labels.
The MSG Truth website is also a good resource, and they have a useful facebook group too where you can ask questions.
For some interesting articles, put ‘MSG’ or the whole words into the search box at www.foodsmatter.com and several research reports and articles will come up.
Maybe a bit less well-known than some other forms of sensitivity, some people do well on a low oxalate diet. In short, oxalates appear in a lot of foods and some people have a sort of toxicity reaction to them.
I am no expert on this one so refer you to some excellent sources for reference.
GPL has a good page on oxalate and oxalate testing. They do an OAT (Organic Acids Test) which I have done for several people. You can get that on the Functional Tests section of the shop here. And I can get TDL to do a 24 hour urinary oxalate test, which you can find on the Allergy Tests section here.
Here, too, is Loving Your Guts’ list of possible related conditions:
- Kidney stones
- Urinary pain
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Vulvodynia/genital pain
- Thyroid disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Join Pain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Chronic Candida
Salicylates can be found in almost every food and it can be very difficult to follow a salicylate free diet.
In fact, there is no real test for this except seeing if a person reacts to an aspirin tablet, which is pure salicylate – or white willow herb I believe is high salicylate too – we used to give it as an aspirin alternative. Obviously manage testing like this with your chosen health practitioner, but essentially if you react to that, you are likely to be salicylate-sensitive. If not, it could be other things going on.
Dr Joneja, an allergy specialist, has the same way of detecting as she explains in a Q&A response she gave recently about Salicylate Intolerance.
Other resources you might find useful (thank you Facebook Group people who provided these for us!):
And this book was recoommended to me as a good one:
There are loads of different allergy-related conditions officially and unofficially-recognised! In this section, I will try and put any I come across for you in case you need help identifying something unusual – apart from the usual allergy (IgE) and food intolerance (non IgE) types.
FPIES – Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome
Affects babies and under 3s mostly.
Symptoms include vomiting and sometimes diarrhoea after food starting usually under 6 months and/or floppyness, lethargy and failure to thrive as toddlers.
Often misdiagnosed as not food-related because nothing shows up on IgE allergy testing. Sometimes wrongly thought to be an infection of some kind.
No official diagnostic tests available so food elimination is done if suspected. Most commonly dairy and soya (from formula usually), then rice and oat solids, although other foods involved.
Usually ‘grow out of it’ by three.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
More accurately termed ‘pollen-food syndrome’ by some experts. The body becomes sensitised to pollen and then develops an allergy to foods that have a similar protein structure. Often starts with hayfever development in chidren and teens.
Most common symptom is a tingling or itchy feeling in the mouth after eating raw fruit and veg. Also include itching, swelling or redness of the mouth, lips, gums, tongue or throat, itchy ears, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and hoarseness. The uvula, the dangly bit at the back of your throat, can swell, as can your oesophagus, pharynx or windpipe.
They can come on immediately after eating or, for the most sensitive, touching or inhaling usually raw fruit and vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts and seeds. Worse in pollen seasons, all year round.
Confirmed by diet analysis (related pollen families) and possible skin prick testing.
An article I wrote about it: Oral Allergy Syndrome
There are several eosinophilic disorders, all of which relate to raised eosinophils and inflammation in the body site where they are found. It can occur in babies right into adulthood, most children being diagnosed by about five.
Effectively, you can get high eosinophils in the digestive tract or system-wide. Wherever they are high, you are likley to get inflammation, pain and/or swelling plus the usual gamut of allergic reactions. It is basically an inflammatory delayed hypersensitivity food reaction it seems.
Gastrointestinally-speaking, you can have raised eosinophils in:
the oesophagus (eosinophilic oesophagitis)
the stomach – (eosinophilic gastritis)
the small intestine (eosinophilic gastroenteritis)
the colon (eosinophilic colitis)
Plus, you can have more systemic problems where eosinophils are raised in the blood generally (the most advanced is hyper-eosinophilic disorder) which can then cause inflammation anywhere in the body and, from the way I interpret it, so far the following disorders have been identified and named:
Churg Strauss Syndrome which appears to be high eosinophils in the blood causing problems mainly in the lungs (asthma), sinuses and nerves.
Eosinophilic fasciitis a thickening, swelling, hardening and pitting of the connective tissue under the skin leaving it looking orange-peely – and possibly joint/nerve pain.
Eosinophilic Pneumonia which affects the breathing, lungs, apparently can be acute and sudden or can come on over a few months with a cough, low grade fevers, progressive shortness of breath, weight loss, wheezing, fatigue and night sweats.
Eosinophilic Cystitis inflammation in the bladder, frequent bladder ‘infections’, needing to go etc.
Testing includes biopsy findings and case history, possible trial of steroid therapy. The path lab looks for a high number of eosinophils, where they are (are they in the wrong places?), changes in the tissue layers (damage done, infiltration of them into tissue layers), and degranulation (spilling of the contents of the eosinophils which suggests they are active).
Apparently, not all labs really understand the process so it is worth finding a consultant/path lab who have dealt with EGIDs before. It’s important to note that, from what I read, high eosinophil counts don’t always happen; it is more about what they are up to than how many there are and I read some reports of people being given a negative result simply based on eosinophil numbers.
Treatment is the same as any food sensitivity disorder. It is an inflammatory reaction to an allergen that has to be identified, removed and/or suppressed (steroids, anti-histamines etc as per). My own view is that is probably has some auto-immune component too so treatment should also be looking at that and I believe immuno-suppressant therapy is becoming quite common now.
Apfed in the US
FoodsMatter has some goods stuff on it too – the latest about helminth therapy for EGIDs – just put eosinophil in the search box.
Here is the International consensus on diagnosis and treatment document which is really useful too.
Food-Dependent Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis
FDEIA is quite rare but it does happen. It basically means someone who reacts when they have eaten a food they are sensitive to and then exercises within 3-4 hours after eating it. If the person eats the food and doesn’t exercise, in this condition at least, the reaction doesn’t occur.
It’s a variation on normal exercise-induced anaphylaxis and it can occur in some people after eating any meal rather than a specific food. It is an IgE type allergy so is often diagnosed with skin prick and igE antibody tests.
It seems to be more prevalent in women than men and in the 25-35 age group, especially amongst those with asthma or other allergies already.
There’s a good article here from Dr Joneja to start you off.