Thursday, June 7, 2012

Figuring out what works

Food allergies or intolerances can be a bitch.  But what triggers them and what's the difference?

An allergy is a situation where a foreign substance (Or in the case of autoimmunity its something within our own bodies!) triggers a histamine-mediated immune response.  Antihistamines can be helpful but in my case, the over-the-counter ones don't work well for me.  Is it because I've taken them on and off for my whole life and I'm "immune" (ha ha a science pun) to them?  Perhaps.  Remember though that everyone's chemistry is a bit different.  It's completely possible that an antihistamine molecule doesn't interact as well with MY PERSONAL histamine receptors - HOLD UP.  I don't even know how antihistamines work.  BRB I will find this out and boil it down for you guys.

*cue hold music*

OK so there are many types of antihistamines on the market - but the most common and actually the most effective despite its sedating effects is still Diphenhydramine or Benadryl.  It works by blocking histamine binding to the histamine receptor.  So your body can go ahead and release histamine by the bucketful into the bloodstream but it cannot elicit its nasty effects because its being blocked like a bouncer in a nightclub ;)

Back to business.  An intolerance occurs when your body literally doesn't have the correct machinery to digest something - and anything that travels through your digestive system without being digested can be an irritant.  (Sidebar:  Even too much fiber can be an irritant - but I'm sure everyone knows that.  Incidentally, this is why those chitin and Ali and other such drugs cause massive intestinal upset - they are allowing undigested foods (fats) to pass through your lower intestine and they are major irritants.)  Those that are cursed with the wretched Lactose Intolerance are not "allergic" to milk.  They just cannot digest milk proteins because they lack the machinery (an enzyme) to do so.  So it passes through the digestive system in tact and irritates the system.  A milk "allergy" is different - that's histamine mediated.

SO - many people actually have food intolerances or allergies that go completely undetected because we are not programmed to consider food when thinking about our health and how we feel.  As naturopath doctor (ND), Jessica Black says in her book The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book:

     "Many people have wheat allergies or sensitivities. Symptoms can be as severe as celiac disease, in which no gluten is tolerated at all and results in gastrointestinaldamage, or as minor as postnasal drip, cough, or phlegm. It is well documented that many neurological conditions are related to gluten intolerance as a result of nutrient deficiency due to malabsorption."

For me, I think my food intolerances or allergies (I'm not sure which they are yet) are subtle.  They lead me to become inflammed - my face gets puffy, my weight goes up because of massive fluid retention, and I get snotty and coughy (that's a real word, I swear).

On Tuesday night I had a meeting after regular work, then I met the family to watch the transit of Venus.  I didn't get a chance to eat dinner and didn't have any snacks on me.  I was starving!  We hit up the local Tim Horton's for a panini on whole wheat and a cuppa chix noodle soup.  I know there are loads of chemicals in these fast foods but I figured this was way better than a burger and fries at the local Wendy's or *gasp* McD's.

When I got home, I noticed that my nose was running quite a lot.  By bedtime I was coughing a bit more than normal.  I took a Benadryl and went to bed.  Wednesday morning I felt it.  I was puffy, bags under my eyes were larger than normal and I was up on the scale 1.5 lbs.

Food intolerance?  Food allergy?  What I know is this:  When I was eating clean foods that I prepared at home, I felt better.  Suddenly I eat fast food and I feel like junk.  Coincidence?  I think not.

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