The word ‘allergy’ means an altered or abnormal tissue reaction after exposure to a foreign antigen. An allergic reaction may occur when there is contract between a foreign protein - an allergen - and body tissues that are sensitive to it. The allergens may reach the tissuesby direct contact with the skin or mucous membranes, or through the blood stream after absorption.
Allergic reactions may occur within a few minutes of the patient coming in contact with the allergen or they may be delayed for several hours or even several days. Almost any part of the body can be affected by allergies. The portion of the body which is affected is called a shock organ. Common sites are nose and eyes, the skin, chest, intestines, and ears.
Allergic reactions are caused by a wide range of substances and conditions. These include pollen, dust, cosmetics, and animal hair ; poisonous plants, serums, vaccines and drugs ; physical agents such as heat, cold and sunlight ; as well as a variety of foods.
Food and Allergy
The protein component of a food is considered to be the causative factor in food allergy, although foods which cause an allergic reaction may vary widely in protein content. Also, allergic response to a food may be either immediate or delayed.
Among the numerous allergens in the food department, the more common ones are oranges, milk, eggs, wheat, fish, chocolates, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and strawberries. Additives and refinements are also responsible for the rise in allergies. The trouble is not only in the foods themselves, but in what is done to them. They are sprayed gassed, coloured, preserved for longer life and generally perverted.
The symptoms of allergy are as varied as the substances causing the reaction. These include recurring headaches, migraine, dizziness, irritability, nervousness, depression, neuralgia, sneezing, conjunctivitis, eczema, heartburn , hay fever, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, gastric ulcer,asthma, overweight, high blood pressure, chest pain, heart attacks, a stuffy or runny nose, shortness of breath, swelling of the face and eyes, etc. The same food can cause different symptoms in different people. Many allergies are multiple and may be caused by multiple allergens.
Allergy is an indication of lowered resistance and internal disharmony caused by dietetic errors and faulty style of living. It is believed that the major cause of allergy is feeding babies such food as cereals, meat, corns, whole milk, etc. before they reach the age of 10 to 12 months. These foods cause allergic reactions as babies lack the proper enzymes needed for their digestion before that age. Babies should be breast -fed for atleast eight months as this is nature’s way of providing all the required nutrients during this period.
Another important cause of allergy is today’s processed foods loaded with numerous chemical additives, many of which cause powerful reactions. An allergic condition can result from diet imbalance. There can be breakdown in the body’s ability to handle sugar due to excessive intake of refined sugar and consequent blood sugar irregularities, or mineral and vitamin imbalances due to defective dietary patterns.
Emotional and psychological stresses can also lead to allergies. According to Dr. Hans Salye, the world’s premier researcher on stress, allergic symptoms are often nothing more than the body’s reaction to stress. A person can, through chronic stress, become sensitive to com mon foods or commonplace substances like petrol fumes.
There are various ways to tackle many of the allergic disturbances. First, the allergens must be identified. This is a difficult but not impossible task. Second, once they are identified, they should be avoided. Third, and most important, general health and resistance should be built up to establish immunity to them.
There are two methods of detecting disturbing foods. The first method is the trial-and-error elimination diet. This automatically eliminates many hazards and foods. Keep to organic, untreated, unprocessed foods as far as possible, and you will eliminate another set of hazards such as pesticides, various sprays and other poisons. After having eliminated as many disturbing factors as possible, a self-searchshould be carried out to ascertain any suspicious symptoms from foods. It is advisable to try an elimination diet, excluding suspected foods for two weeks until the cause is detected. Occasionally, by changing the brand or the type, you can find a food substitute that does not upset you. For example, chocolate upsets many, so try carob, which tastes the same but has not been found disturbing.
Another way to detect the cause of allergy is by Dr. Coca’s "pulse test". The method is as follows : check your pulse before a meal. Then limiting that meal to one food only, wait for half an hour after eating and take your pulse again. A slight increase is considered normal, even up to 16 extra beats. If your pulse does not rise above 84, you may be allergy-free. But if your pulse rises beyond that point, and remains high an hour after the meal, you have found your food allergy. The best way, however, to prevent or overcome allergies is to strengthen the overall physical resistance so as not to fall an easy prey to every allergen that comes along. To start with, the patient should fast on fresh fruit juices for four or five days. Repeated short juice fasts are likely to result in better tolerance to previous allergies. After the fruit juice fast, the patient can take a mono diet of vegetables or fruits such as carrots, grapes or apples, for one week. After that one more food is added to the mono diet. A week later the third food is added and so on. After four weeks, the protein foods can be introduced, one at a time. In case an allergic reaction to a newly introduced food is noticed, it should be discontinued and a new food tried. In this way all real allergens can be eventually eliminated from the diet.
The body requires a large alkaline reserve for its daily activity. The problem of acid formation throughout the day from wrong foods, fatigue, mental stress and lack of sleep can be met by the competency of the alkaline reserves. Boosting the normal body reserve of alkalines by liberal use of alkaline forming foods is essential for those suffering from allergies.
The foods which should be excluded from the diet are tea, coffee, chocolate, cola drinks, alcohol, sugar, sweets and foods containing sugar, refined cereals, meats, fish, chicken, tobacco, milk, cheese, butter, smoked, salted and pickled foods and foods containing any chemical additives, preservatives and flavoring. These foods cause either toxic accumulations, overstimulation of the adrenal glands, strain on the pancreatic enzyme production or disturb the blood sugar balance.
For preventive purposes, the entire C complex vitamins - known as the bioflavonoids, are recommended. They gradually strengthen cell permeability to help immunise the body from various allergies, especially hay fever. Often the addition of B5 or pantothenic acid brings great relief to allergy sufferers. Multiple allergies may result from poor adrenal gland functioning. In such cases liberal amounts of pantothenic acid helps cure them, although the recovery will take several weeks. An adequate intake of vitamin E is also beneficial as this vitamin possesses effective anti-allergic properties, as some studies have shown.