While it is more common to hear about allergies that cause hives, swelling and or sinus issues, there are also “delayed allergies” whose reaction can take a few days to appear making it harder to identify. For instance if a person develops intestinal cramping three days after eating the offending food, how can they be sure what food is the culprit? There is a way.
It is slowly becoming apparent that along with the rise of food allergies, other disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diabetes, may be related to food allergies as well. These disorders may not have immediate impact from foods, but the impact can be slow and devastating. The “delayed” or “hidden” food allergy is identified by an IgG antibody and can only be found through blood tests (not skin prick allergy tests). Dr. James Braly and Patrick Holford give examples of how food allergies may be responsible for the rise in diabetes and IBS in their book, “Hidden Allergies.”
They state on page 44 that especially with Type 1 diabetes, “the child’s immune system attacks and eventually destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is therefore classed as an ‘autoimmune’ disease. There is increasing evidence that what might be happening is that the child becomes allergic to a particular food protein and that the immune system reacts not only to this but to a similar protein in the pancreas. This ‘cross-reaction’ theory is gaining credence and suggests that in children…the major trigger might be introducing allergy-provoking foods too early…[such as] gluten, soy and cow’s milk.”
Another example they provide on page 22 and 23 is how food allergies can create IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They describe a case study of Denise Lewis, a well known athlete from Britain who won the gold medal for the heptathlon at the Sydney Olympics. She had suffered from IBS for 13 years. She explains, “At times it’s left me curled up in agony, feeling as if someone was wringing out my guts by hand, and there is nothing I can do–not standing, sitting or lying down–that can make the pain go away…most of the attacks were isolated incidents [occurring] months apart…Then…I heard about blood tests…for food allergies…About a week later I received the results. The report said I was very intolerant of cow’s milk, moderately intolerant of yeast and egg white, and mildly intolerant of egg yolk, garlic and cashew nuts. I wasn’t surprised about the cow’s milk. I regularly felt uncomfortable after drinking it…Since removing these foods almost a year ago I haven’t had a single attack…For the first time in 13 years I’m pain free.”
To learn if you have delayed food allergies, contact an allergist that can order an IgG blood test (not IgE) for you.
A. Anderson is an author of the award winning book, Flourishing with Food Allergies, as best in health 2009. She has received degrees and certifications from UVM, UCLA and Oracle University. She has worked as a technical writer, IT project manager and trainer for Oracle Corporation, Yale University and others. She is the mother of two sons who have food allergies and works to support those with allergies.
Braly, M.D., James, Holford, Patrick, “Hidden Food Allergies,” Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, CA, 2006, pp 22, 23, 44.