Food allergies treatments - Dr. Axe

Despite the risk of severe allergic reactions and even death, there is no current cure for food allergies. The condition can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of food allergy symptoms.

However, fortunately there are natural food allergies treatments and supplements that can help to boost the immune system and enhance the gut microbiota, helping to reduce the development of food allergies and food allergy symptoms. (1)

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance: What Is the Difference?

It is estimated that about a quarter of the population will have an adverse reaction to food (of which food allergy is just one type) during their lifetime, especially during infancy and early childhood. (2)

Food allergies consist of an immune system response to a disagreeable food. The body senses that a protein in a particular food may be harmful and triggers an immune system response, producing histamine to protect itself. Histamine causes allergy symptoms such as hives, coughing and wheezing. The body then “remembers” this immunologic reaction — and when the allergen food enters the body again, the histamine response is more easily triggered. The best characterized form of food allergy is mediated by food-specific IgE antibodies.

The diagnosis of food allergies may be problematic because nonallergic food reactions, such as food intolerances, are frequently confused with food allergy symptoms. Food allergies and intolerances are often linked, but there’s a clear difference between the two conditions.

A food intolerance is the body’s digestive system’s response to a disagreeable food. Unlike a food allergy, which produces an immunological mechanism after consuming an allergen, a food intolerance produces a non-immunological reaction. For example, a person may have digestive issues after drinking cow’s milk because she is unable to digest the sugar lactose — this would be called a food intolerance. If she had an immunologic response to the cow’s milk, that would be characterized as a food allergy. (3)

There are several types of food intolerances, with the most common being gluten, A1 casein and lactose. Other examples of food intolerances include food additives like coloring, flavoring and preservatives; plus, sulfites that are used in dried fruits, canned goods and wine can trigger an inflammatory reaction.

What Is an Allergic Reaction?

Food allergy symptoms typically appear within a few minutes to two hours after consumption of the allergen. Allergic reactions can include:

  • hives
  • flushed skin or rash
  • tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
  • swelling of the tongue, lip, throat or face
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • coughing or wheezing
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

People with a known allergy who begin experiencing symptoms while, or after, eating a food should initiate food allergy treatment immediately, and if symptoms progress, they should go to a nearby emergency room.

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening form of IgE-mediated food allergy that requires prescription of self-injectable adrenaline. This can lead to constricted airways in the lungs, severe lowering of blood pressure and shock (called anaphylactic shock), and suffocation by swelling of the throat. (4)

When you struggle with an ongoing, unidentified food allergy or sensitivity, your body constantly sends out inflammatory responses that can cause harm in multiple ways. Food sensitivities and allergies are correlated with an increased chance for developing:

  • chronic pain
  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • mood disorders
  • skin conditions
  • autoimmune disorders
  • cognitive disorders
  • learning disabilities
  • insomnia
  • weight gain
  • migraines
  • kidney and gallbladder problems

6 Food Allergies Treatments & Natural Remedies

Because food allergies can be severe, plus contribute to other health problems, I strongly encourage you or your loved ones to pursue these natural food allergies treatments.

 1. Avoid All of These Foods

The following foods increase inflammation within the body, weaken the immune system and lead to digestive issues.

Packaged foods — Packaged, ultra-processed foods may contain GMO’s like corn, soy, canola and vegetable oils that cause food allergies and intolerances. They can also contain hidden ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction; that’s why it’s important that people with allergies are taught how to read labels carefully and avoid offending foods.

Sugar — Sugar can cause bad bacterial overgrowth, weaken the immune system and increase food intolerances. Because sugar consumption leads to inflammation, it can exacerbate food allergy symptoms and restrict your body’s ability to tolerate foods normally. (5)

Artificial flavorings — Artificial flavorings can exacerbate food allergies. Experts are convinced that dyes used in packaged foods can cause adverse health impacts in children and possibly adults. There is evidence that cochineal extract (which comes from the scale of insects and is used to dye food red) may cause allergic reactions and asthma.

In fact, Starbucks used to use cochineal extract to dye their strawberry Frappuccino drinks until they transitioned to a pigment found in tomatoes. (6) Food labels do not have to include a flavoring’s chemical name or a complete listing of all flavors present, which is why you sometimes see simply “color added” or “artificial color” on the label.

Gluten — A significant percentage of the general population report problems caused by wheat and/or gluten ingestion, even though they do not have celiac disease or wheat allergy. Research shows that most patients report both gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms, which improve when they are on a gluten-free diet. (7)

Studies show that gluten is blamed as a trigger of symptoms by 20 to 45 percent of adults who self-report food hypersensitivity. Symptoms associated with a gluten intolerance may lead you to believe that you are allergic to other foods when you really aren’t, which is why I recommend that you avoid eating foods containing gluten. (8)

2. Sidestep These Allergen Triggers

Although any food can provoke a reaction, relatively few foods are responsible for a vast majority of significant food-induced allergic reactions. If you truly want to take advantage of food allergies treatments, please know that over 90 percent of food allergies are caused by the following foods:

Cow’s milk — Allergic reactions to cow’s milk are common in infancy and childhood, with a prevalence of 2 to 7.5 percent. Persistence of a cow’s milk food allergy in adulthood is uncommon; however, it is common for adults to experience non-immunologic reactions (which would be a food intolerance) to cow’s milk and dairy. (9)

Eggs — A recent meta-analysis of the prevalence of food allergy estimated that egg allergy affects 0.5 to 2.5 percent of young children. A protein in egg whites, called ovomucoid, has been shown to be the dominant allergen in eggs. (10)

Wheat — Wheat allergy represents a type of adverse immunologic reaction to proteins contained in wheat and related grains. A food allergy to wheat is more common in children and can be associated with a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis. (11)

Soy Soy allergy affects approximately 0.4 percent of children, and 50 percent of children will outgrow their allergy by 7 years old. (12)

Peanuts Peanut allergy affects approximately 1 percent of children and 0.6 percent of adults in the U.S. In highly sensitized people, just trace quantities of peanuts can induce an allergic reaction. (13)

Tree nuts — Tree nut allergy affects about 1 percent of the general population. Nuts that are most commonly responsible for allergic reactions include hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds. Those that are less frequently associated with allergies include pecans, chestnuts, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachio, coconut, Nangai nuts and acorns. (14)

Shellfish — The prevalence of shellfish allergy is 0,5 to 5 percent. Shellfish allergies include the groups of crustaceans (such as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, woodlice and barnacles) and molluscs (such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish). Shellfish allergy is known to be common and persistent in adults. (15)

Fish — Prevalence rates of finned fish allergy range from 0.2 to 2.29 percent in the general population, but they can reach up to 8 percent among fish processing workers. Fish allergies often develop later in life and because of cross-reactivity among various species of fish, people with fish allergies should avoid all fish species until a species can be proven safe to eat. (16)

Natural treatment of allergies - Dr. Axe

3. Eat These Foods: The Non-Allergenic Food List 

When considering food allergies treatments, be aware that these food allergy alternatives are the least likely to cause an allergic reaction and will help to boost your immune system, helping you to get rid of food allergies:

Green leafy vegetables — Leafy greens (including spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine, arugula and watercress) are exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. Adding leafy greens to your diet will help to boost your immune system and aid detoxification. Research shows that eating five or more portions of fruits and vegetables daily significantly increase antibody response, which can help to relieve allergy symptoms. (17)

Probiotic-rich foods — Probiotic foods support immune health and can help to repair a damaged intestinal lining. Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, yogurt, raw cheese, miso and kombucha will help to boost your immune system and may reduce your body’s oversensitivity to food triggers that lead to allergy symptoms.

Bone broth — Bone broth made from beef and chicken stock support the healing of leaky gut, as it replenishes the intestines with necessary amino acids and minerals necessary for repair. Bone broth is one of the most beneficial foods to consume to restore gut health and, therefore, support immune system function and healthy inflammatory response.

Coconut milk — The best alternative for cow’s milk is coconut milk, a liquid naturally found inside of mature coconuts, stored within coconut “meat.” Coconut milk is completely free from dairy, lactose, soy, nuts and grains, so it’s a great option for anyone with dairy, soy or nut allergies, along with lactose intolerance.

Almond butter — For people allergic to peanuts and peanut butter, almond butter is a safe and healthy alternative. Almond butter is simply ground almonds, and there are many vital health benefits of almonds nutrition. Almonds are low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin and trace minerals, such as magnesium. (18)

Seeds — Flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds make for a great snack and healthy addition to salads, smoothie bowls and oats. Seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, just like nuts, but they are not common allergens. Flaxseed nutrition, for example, includes omega-3s, fiber, protein, vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.

Gluten-free flours/grains — Nutrient-dense wheat-free and gluten-free flours include coconut flour, almond flour, spelt flour, oat flour and rice flour. By sticking to flours and grains that don’t include wheat or gluten, you are reducing your chances of experiencing allergy symptoms. Plus, you are getting plenty of fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals from alternatives like coconut and almond flour.

Breast milk — Studies shows that exclusive breastfeeding seems to have a preventive effect on the early development of asthma and atopic dermatitis up to two years of age. Research published in Pediatrics Clinics of North America shows that breast milk complements a baby’s immune system, supplementing undeveloped defenses with immune factors while creating the foundation for the innate and adaptive immune systems. (19)

4. Try an Elimination Diet

Trying an elimination diet can help you to get rid of food allergies by pinpointing exactly which foods are the culprits for digestive and allergy symptoms. An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan that eliminates certain foods that may be causing allergies and other digestive reactions, and then reintroduces the foods one at a time in order to determine which foods are, and are not, well-tolerated. Because the only true food allergy treatment is to eliminate the allergen from your diet completely, an elimination diet will help you to understand exactly what foods needs to be avoided.

Elimination diets range in terms of what exact foods are permitted and eliminated, but most will cut out all common allergens, including:

  • gluten
  • dairy
  • soy
  • refined/added sugar
  • peanuts
  • corn
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • hydrogenated oils
  • citrus fruits
  • eggs
  • all packaged, processed or fast foods

Elimination diets last for 3–6 weeks because antibodies, the proteins that your immune system makes when it negatively reacts to food, take around three weeks to dissipate. Eliminating these common allergens for at least three weeks gives your body time to heal from sensitivities.

For food allergies treatments, the elimination diet is more of a trial-and-error process, but after 4–6 weeks, you should be able to pinpoint what foods are causing your allergy symptoms. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Eliminate common allergen/sensitive foods for at least three weeks. Keep a journal to record how you are feeling when avoiding these food triggers.
  2. Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, clean sources of protein (such as grass-fed beef and poultry, wild-caught fish and small amounts of sprouted beans), healthy fats (such as avocados and coconut oil) and whole-food carbohydrates and fruit. These anti-inflammatory foods will help to reduce allergy symptoms.
  3. After at least three weeks, reintroduce one food group at a time, eating each new food for about 1–2 weeks. Record your symptoms and notice any changes in symptoms between the elimination and reintroduction phases.
  4. If the symptoms return after reintroducing a suspicious food, you can confirm that this food is a trigger by eliminating it once again. Notice if the symptoms clear up once again when the food is removed.

Research shows that if symptoms disappear during elimination, a food allergy is likely the cause of the symptoms. The cause can be established by reintroducing foods once at a time. (20) In a 2015 study published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, data from 131 patients were analyzed in order to assess the time required to improve food allergy symptoms. 129 patients (98 percent) improved after a four-week elimination diet and only two patients improved after 8 weeks. A statistically significant difference before and after commencing the elimination diet was seen in all recorded food allergy symptoms. (21)

5. Use These Supplements

Digestive Enzymes — Digestive enzymes aid the digestive system in fully breaking down food particles, and it’s a vital food allergy remedy. The incomplete digestion of food proteins may be linked to food allergies and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. (22)

Probiotics — Good bacteria can help the immune system deal with food more favorably. A 2001 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that differences in neonatal gut microbiota precede the development of atopy, suggesting a role for commensal intestinal bacteria in the preventing of allergies. This research had lead to the hypothesis that probiotics may promote oral tolerance. To boost the good bacteria in your gut, take 50 billion organisms daily. (23)

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) — Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that MSM supplements may serve as an effective food allergies treatment. MSM is an organic sulfur-containing compound that is used to improve immune function, lower inflammation and help restore healthy bodily tissue. MSM is a useful food allergy remedy because it can also be used to relieve digestive issues and skin conditions. (24)

Vitamin B5 — Vitamin B5 supports adrenal function, making it a natural food allergy treatment. It helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract, and it boosts immune function so that your body is less likely to overreact to trigger foods. (25)

L-glutamine — Research shows that l-glutamine can help help repair leaky gut and immune health. Because leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is likely to cause various health conditions, including allergies, l-glutamine works as a natural food allergy remedy due to its mechanistic potential in inhibit inflammation. (26)

6. Try These Essential Oils

Peppermint Oil — Peppermint oil can soothe the digestive tract and reduce inflammation that’s associated with food allergies. It can also help to relieve other food allergy symptoms like headaches and itching. Peppermint can be applied topically to the temples, abdomen or bottoms of the feet. To soothe digestive issues, take 1–2 drops internally by placing it on the roof of the mouth or in a glass a glass of water. (27)

Eucalyptus Oil – Another essential oil for allergies is eucalyptus oil, which opens up the lungs and sinuses, improving circulation and reducing symptoms of food allergies. Eucalyptus contains citronellal, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects; it also works as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins. To get rid of food allergies with eucalyptus oil, diffuse 5–10 drops at home or apply 1–2 drops topically to the chest and temples. (28)

Final Thoughts

  • There is no current cure for food allergies, the condition can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of food allergy symptoms.

  • Food allergies consist of an immune system response to a disagreeable food. The body senses that a protein in a particular food may be harmful and triggers an immune system response, producing histamine to protect itself.

  • To get rid of food allergies, pursue food allergies treatments, such as avoiding foods that lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system, such as packaged foods, sugar, artificial colorings and gluten. It is also important to sidestep common allergens until you are able to pinpoint what foods are causing food allergy symptoms.

  • An elimination diet will help you to pinpoint what foods are serving as allergens and it will help to reduce food allergy symptoms. By sticking to anti-inflammatory foods, like leafy greens, bone broth and fermented foods, you are healing your gut and boosting immune system function.

  • There are supplements that serve as food allergies treatments, such as MSM, probiotics, digestive enzymes and vitamin B5. Some essential oils also work as food allergy remedies, including peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils, which have cooling effects.

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Source: Dr. Axe