A food allergy is an immune response to a particular food or beverage, similar to the immune response against the body itself in a lupus patient. Don’t confuse food allergies with food intolerances; they are different. When you experience food intolerance, it is not caused by the immune system, and is simply an adverse response by your body to a particular food (like lactose intolerance).
You’ve got to take care of yourself; having lupus or any auto-immune disease makes you especially susceptible to food allergies and these allergic reactions can instigate flares.
There are many ways to determine food allergies and the symptoms they produce. According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, you should watch for the following 7 symptoms up to two hours of eating.
Food allergy symptoms to watch out for:
o Tingling sensation in the mouth
o Swelling of the tongue and the throat
o Difficulty breathing
o Vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea
o Sudden drop in blood pressure
o Loss of consciousness
If you suspect you have a food allergy, it is important to work with a health professional, because while simply cutting that food out of your diet may alleviate your symptoms, it won’t address the potential allergy itself.
Allergy testing is easier than it sounds. You might be afraid of needles, but in most cases you don’t even have to see them!
Common allergy testing methods:
Pin Prick allergy testing
In the pin prick skin test the doctor places a small drop of the substance (in this case food) that you may be allergic to on your skin and then pricks you with a tiny needle. He or she will then wait for a few minutes to see if you develop a reaction, which is usually localized in the form of redness and swelling.
RAST Allergy Test
The RAST test is another allergy test that requires a blood sample sent to a lab, where specialized tests are done to determine your allergies.
The At-Home Allergy Pulse Test
Another easy way to get an indication of a food allergy is by using the at-home allergy pulse test. This is done by checking your pulse rate before and after eating. When you maintain a close watch over your pulse rate while you challenge different foods, you can often determine possible food reactions. However, it is important that you do not use or rely on this test if you have a history of strong allergic reactions, especially anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reason which results in swelling of the throat).
To perform the pulse test on yourself, simply take your pulse before eating a meal to establish your base (or control) pulse rate.
It’s best to eat a single food, and then re-check your pulse rate at 15, 30 and 60 minutes afterwards. If you see an increase in elevation of more than 10 beats faster than your base pulse, it means you are likely allergic to that food.
An obvious problem is that you may want to eat more than one food at a time. Go ahead and eat that meal, and again do your pulse test before, and after your meal as above. In this way you’ll be able to determine if the foods don’t have any effect, or if there are foods creating a reaction with an elevated pulse rate.
To start testing your food reactions, a simple natural diet is the way to go. Stick with meals that don’t require a lot of work and include just a few simple ingredients.
If you do find an increased pulse, it’s a good idea to test each food separately in order to narrow down which food ingredient is the culprit from that meal.
Be sure to keep a diary with you at all times, so you can keep a proper record and learn to identify which foods, if any, are triggering a flare. Be cautioned though, food triggers and their reactions can change, therefore be tricky to catch. However, this test is a great start to taking control of unnecessary flares that result from food allergies.
It is best to work with an experienced wellness specialist to help you maintain your health program and get further support to answer your health questions when necessary.
90% of all food allergies are caused by only eight foods!
Yes, it’s true. Only 8 common foods are the culprit for most food allergies. These are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, cashews, and pistachios), fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. You should also avoid spicy foods, processed foods (such as American cheese), alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine if you have Lupus. I know this sounds like no fun at all, but all of these have the potential to mess with your immune system and have unexpected effects on your body. That’s the last thing you need to worry about with lupus!
One way to recall these foods is by remembering the term ‘DONGS’, which stands for:
Dairy: Cow’s milk and related products, goats’ milk and related products, eggs
Ocean: Fish, shellfish
Nuts: Peanuts, tree nuts
Grains: Soy, wheat, wheat, rye, oats, barley, anything referred to as “gluten”
Spices: Paprika, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cola, liquorice, mustard, oregano, peppers, poppy seeds, and sage
Now that I’ve told you all the no-no’s… we can go over some of the foods you can eat and enjoy without fear of stimulating your immune system. Foods like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and veggies can make up delicious dishes full of energy and carbs to keep you going through the day. For a refreshing drink, why not reach for some fresh fruits or veggies and make a nice juiced smoothie or drink that will support your immune system and energy as well (just avoid asparagus, eggplant, onion, zucchini, raw olives, and peppers).
It’s important to keep your strength up so you can fight the lupus all day, not just after eating, so try and have several smaller meals throughout the day versus 2 or 3 heavy meals that will rob you of precious energy you don’t have to waste.