Food allergies are quite common. In North America, more than two million children and an estimated 12 million adults are allergic to one food item or another. Many of the children we care for in our practice often suffer from mild to severe food sensitivities.
Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a food the body has mistaken as harmfu1. When this happens, the body creates specific antibodies to fight what it has determined to be threatening. Once the increased amounts of histamines and other chemicals are released it may further trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system.
A typical immune system reaction occurs when the body creates immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the food. When these antibodies react with the food, histamine and other chemicals cause hives, asthma or other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Although a child can develop an allergy to anything, eight foods account for 90 percent of all food induced allergic reactions milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc.), seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat.
What is an allergic reaction?
Excess histamine in the body can cause a wide variety of noticeable symptoms tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and throat, difficult breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, and in extreme cases, even death. There are also the less noticeable symptoms, such as irritability, fatigue, headache, nasal congestion, and skin discoloration. Symptoms from an allergic reaction may normally appear within minutes of a child ingesting the food to which they are allergic.
The Chiropractic Factor
Addressing nutrition with patients as a “lifestyle” to prevent food allergies can begin with the pregnant patient. Encouraging her to breastfeed exclusively and as long as “possible (hopefully a year, if not longer) will increase the infants chance against food sensitivities.
Since food allergies are caused by the immune system interpreting that certain foods are a harmful substance, the role of chiropractic is very important in ensuring the immune system is functioning at its full potential. In my 23 years of practice, I have seen that when families participate in healthy lifestyle choices that include wellness chiropractic care for their children, very few children manifest food allergies. The role of the family wellness chiropractor can be seen as facilitating a high quality of life in children and adults by improving whole-body function via the nervous system.