Migraines, Arthritis, Eczema…What do they all have in common?
Toxic Food Syndrome
You might be thinking, “what in the world do all of these have in common”. Yes, they are all conditions that plague millions of people in our country, but there is more! Did you know they can all be caused by something called “Toxic Food Syndrome?” I’m not even referring to the junk processed and refined foods that your mind immediately runs to. While these foods are not good for you, this article isn’t just another one of those “holier than though”, “high and mighty”, “lay off the fast food and eat green beans” articles. No, this is an article on immunology and how your body can build up an immune response to even good healthy foods.
Let’s talk about the difference between immunoglobulin E (IgE) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses. Typically when we talk about food allergies we think about people who suffer from peanut allergies, you know the reason you can’t have peanuts on a plane. That is an IgE response known as a Type I Hypersensitivity reaction. There is a cascade of events when exposed to an allergen occurs before an IgE response takes place. “IgE is the class of immunoglobulin characterized by ε heavy chains. It is involved in allergic reactions(1).” These types of reactions are characterized by both local and systemic as well as mild to sometimes life-threatening symptoms. A good example of an IgE-mediated reaction would be “Hay Fever” which classically presents with watery itchy eyes, runny nose, and even an itchy throat. These are very fast sometimes even immediate reactions to exposure. When the whole body is involved the patient suffers what we know as anaphylaxes, which is a potentially a life-threatening situation.
All of that said, just to differentiate I am not talking about a “Food Allergy” What we are discussing in this article is IgG mediated responses that are characterized by chronic exposure and are really related to inflammation. Let’s take a minute to understand what an IgG reaction is. IgG reactions are triggered through a type III hypersensitivity reaction, where the exposure to an allergen triggers the formation of inflammatory cytokines. This cascade of events can take hours to weeks to complete, therefore, it is considered a delayed reaction. This makes it extremely hard to do an elimination diet and see real accurate results. An elimination diet is when you eliminate certain food from your diet for a period of time and then slowly reintroduce the foods one by one over a period of time in order to see if they bring on any negative side effects. The problem with this approach is you may reintroduce a food like apples and have no symptoms for 2 weeks and on the day you start to feel some symptoms, related to the apple, you will relate it to the food you re-introduced in the last day or so. Some of the more common symptoms you may feel when you have this type of reaction, “include joint pain, chronic headaches, fatigue, eczema, and psoriasis (and so many others), …are associated with food allergy(3).” In the study titled “Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial” they came to the conclusion(2)” “Food elimination based on IgG antibodies may be effective in reducing IBS symptoms and is worthy of further biomedical research(2).” This is just another example of how removing allergens temporarily from an inflamed system can aid in patients health and well being.
How do you know if you suffer from Toxic Food Syndrome?
Simple! We run blood work and look for specific markers that relate to Toxic Food Syndrome! It can be done in the office with a simple prick of the finger or a more comprehensive profile can be run through a lab. Both tests are reasonably priced considering the vital information we receive regarding your health. I will tell you a quick little story on how much of an impact removing food allergies can do for a patient. I have permission from my patient’s guardian to share this story: Pediatric patient under 24 months, history of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Had his IgG markers ran in my office and he had just under 30 reactive foods on his results as being potentially offensive to his body. After 2 weeks of removing the reactive foods and staying on a 4-day rotation diet containing only the foods that were nonreactive his mother has reported he has gained 6-8 words. Now we still have plenty of other work to do with his gut and immune system but you can see the profound impact removing offensive foods from your diet can have on your health. While IgG responses to food are not well understood in the medical literature as it is not the bodies primary response to an allergen, I can tell you that clinically I see results quite frequently in my patients when we identify these markers and avoid them.
If you have any questions regarding this test or any of the other testing I do in my office please reach out for a free 10 min telephone consult. Call my office at 610-644-1191 to schedule an appointment.
2.Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.
Atkinson W1, Sheldon TA, Shaath N, Whorwell PJ.