Abnormal food reactions are becoming very common. This is the result of many interacting factors including altered food proteins from genetic modification (GMO), altered digestive tract bacteria from the higher levels of antibiotic exposure in animal based food products, poor digestive function causing incomplete food breakdown, the use of multiple chemical additives in most foods, and yet other factors. For example, it is estimated that 70-80% of the corn and soybeans in our food system are genetically modified and canola and sugar beets may be as high as 90%. Given the broad use of some type of product from one of these sources in almost all packaged foods, it is likely that >90% of packaged foods contain some GMO.
Abnormal food reactions consist of several types. Most people understand food allergies. These are the immediate immune reactions that susceptible people develop in response to food. The symptoms can vary from itching, flushing and swelling to severe GI symptoms, asthma and shock. These allergic reactions are rare and their cause well understood because of the close relationship of the food exposure and the reaction.
Food sensitivities are many times more common than true allergies and they are much harder to diagnose. They often cause milder and more delayed symptoms. Food sensitivity symptoms may include bloating and sluggishness after eating, abdominal pain, dark circles under the eyes, chronic postnasal drip and sinus congestion. The difficulty in diagnosis of these reactions is that they are often delayed by many hours to a few days from the food exposure that causes them. They are also often intermittent, occurring only after exposure to certain foods when the immune system is already “agitated” by something else.
Humans developed “immune tolerance” to dietary proteins over thousands of generations. The exact nature of many dietary proteins has been altered in just one or two generations challenging our immune systems with proteins which seem to be relatively foreign. We attack them like we may a foreign protein such as pollen.
There are 4 types of food allergy reactions. Types 1-3 involve the production of one class of antibody which makes them relatively identifiable with blood tests. Type 4 reactions are called food sensitivities. They are the most common type of food allergy and they are not diagnosable with blood tests or skin reaction tests. For many decades and even now some in medicine have insisted that food sensitivities that could not be seen with blood tests did not exist. A recent research study has clarified this issue. All patients had normal blood tests for gluten allergy. The study divided patients with digestive tract symptoms into a diet containing gluten and a similarly appearing diet that was gluten free. Patients did not know which diet they were using. At the end of 6 weeks, the patients who had received the gluten free diet had important improvements in all of their symptoms compared to the gluten containing group.
The researchers concluded that in this group where standard tests for gluten sensitivity were negative, the gluten free group did, in fact, have a sensitivity that resolved their symptoms by gluten avoidance. The difficulty with all of this is that gluten is only one of several hundred food components that individuals can be sensitive to. The gold standard for food sensitivity diagnosis is withdrawing the suspected foods and observing improvements in the related symptoms. Because the improvement is very gradual in food sensitivities and often erratic, simply withdrawing different foods without an indication of which specific food or foods may be involved is both time consuming and confusing. Perhaps 90% of patient who attempt this cannot successfully complete the process.
While food sensitivities are difficult to test by standard means such as blood tests or skin testing, newer innovative testing can make detection more accurate. Computerized ElectroDermal Screening (CEDS) has evolved over the past 60 years to examine food sensitivities by measuring body reactions during a food challenge. It is a form of “biofeedback” although it is looking for a negative body response when a food challenge is performed.
Biomeridian Testing uses a probe to measure acupuncture point conductivity in a series of points corresponding to the immune and digestive systems. Different food challenges can then be done while the point conductivity is re-measured. Immune reaction will typically cause the conductivity to be markedly altered. The testing allows the development of a small list of the likely offending foods which can then be absolutely confirmed with avoiding just these foods. There are over one hundred foods in the test database.
A clinical comparison of both the Biomeridian Food Sensitivity Testing, standard blood antibody testing (RAST) and skin testing found that the Biomeridian Testing correlated best with food withdrawal diet results.
The testing will also look at the integrity and function of the digestive system. Some persons develop food sensitivities to foods they have tolerated well in the past. This is usually the result of compromised digestive function. When dietary proteins begin to be poorly broken down by the digestive process, they arrive in the lower small intestine in larger complexes. Any irritation of the lining of the intestine increases the pores in the lining tissue allowing these “different” proteins to be absorbed. Again, they don’t look like what the immune cells have adapted to and they trigger an immune response.
The Biomeridian Testing program involves 1 or 2 baseline tests of the major body system meridians to establish an individual pattern. Problems identified at that point such as weak digestion are addressed. This is then followed by the specific food sensitivity testing protocol and the development of an individualized treatment program. The typical patient has between one and five different food sensitivities.
The conditions that commonly relate to food sensitivities include skin conditions, joint pain, headache, sinus conditions, asthma, nasal allergies, digestive complaints and autoimmune disorders.