I have a number of chronic medical issues,
and a huge range of food allergies, so
I’m thrilled to welcome this Guest Post by,
 Nicolette M. Dumke
Author of 
Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss
As Part of her virtual book tour with:

What’s the Best Way to Know If You Have a Food Allergy?
The ancient Greek saying, “Know thyself,” is certainly true about food allergies. For good health, it is vital to know if we have food allergies; thus we can eliminate problem foods in order to prevent developing health problems. Many disorders treated with potentially harmful drugs and surgery may be caused or exacerbated by food allergies. These problems can be managed more safely by changing the diet. For an example of how this can work, see this page: http://www.food-allergy.org/crohns.html.
Over seventy medical conditions are thought to be associated with food allergies. These conditions can be respiratory (hayfever, asthma, bronchitis, recurring ear infections, sinus conditions, rhinitis, laryngitis, allergic sore throat, hoarseness); digestive (gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, constipation, colic, malabsorption); cerebral (headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, learning disorders, tension-fatigue syndrome, foggy thinking, irritability, depression); skin-related (dermatitis, eczema, angioedema, hives, rashes); or related to other body systems (arthritis, fibromyalgia, urinary irritation, conjunctivitis, edema, hypoglycemia, diabetes, overweight, underweight, premenstrual syndrome, fatigue). This list is not exhaustive. Virtually any symptom can be associated with food allergy or intolerance. By identifying and eliminating or treating food allergies, many of our seemingly insolvable chronic health problems can be improved or even eradicated.
The gold standard method of diagnosing food allergies is elimination and challenge testing. Since some people have potentially life-threatening reactions to the challenge, do not try this at home unless you have been advised to do so by a doctor who has determined that your response to the test will not be dangerous. Both elimination and challenge and provocation-neutralization testing (discussed below) have been proven effective for the diagnosis of food allergies by double blind clinical trials.
There are several variations in how an elimination and challenge test is done. Individuals who have severe reactions and are likely to be allergic to a number of foods may be hospitalized, fast for several days, and then, under medical supervision, eat suspected problem foods one at a time with a few days between each challenge. An outpatient variation on this is for a person to eat an elimination diet of rare foods for five to ten days and then eat suspect foods one at a time in pure form to detect reactions. For more about this, refer to Detecting Your Hidden Food Allergies by William Crook, M.D. (This book is fancifully illustrated and, unfortunately, out of print, but used copies are available). A third variation is to eliminate one suspect food from the diet (completely, in all its forms, both pure and hidden in other foods) for five days and then to eat it in pure form. For all of these variations, the patient must wait a few days and watch for delayed reactions before testing another food. If you need to test more than a few foods, elimination and challenge testing can disrupt your life for quite a while.
A second well-respected method of allergy testing is provocation-neutralization testing (P/N, also called SET for serial endpoint titration) which is done in a doctor’s office. Foods are tested one at a time. A small amount of an extract of each food is injected subcutaneously under the patient’s skin. If the test is positive, it causes a skin reaction and also usually causes the patient’s typical allergy symptoms. Then smaller doses of the extract are injected until a “neutralizing dose” is found which turns off the reaction. Each food test may take an hour if positive, but tests can be done sequentially in the day. Provocation-neutralization testing detects reactions caused by both IgE and IgG antibodies. The injection sites are observed over the next few days to detect delayed or cell mediated reactions. Intradermal tests (also called scratch tests) are not useful for diagnosing food allergies because they only detect IgE reactions, which account for only about 5% of food reactions.
The least time consuming and easiest tests for food allergies are blood tests. These tests vary in the types and number of mechanisms for food allergies they detect, and thus their accuracy also varies. Some doctors use them but recommend that positive results be verified by elimination and challenge testing. York Laboratories (www.yorkallergyusa.com/) offers blood tests for food allergies that you can order online without a doctor’s prescription. Although blood tests are not 100% accurate, they do test for many foods. The types of tests above, because they are more time consuming, usually test for a few dozen foods at most. If you eliminate foods that show up as major problems on your blood test and rotate all other foods, you can watch your symptoms and rule out or in food allergies without doing a formal challenge test. It is highly advisable to follow an allergy rotation diet if you are allergic to more than just a few foods to prevent the development of new food allergies. For more about rotation diets, see this page: http://www.food-allergy.org/rotation.html. For more details about food allergy testing, see this page: http://www.food-allergy.org/diagnosis.html.
If you plan to discuss allergy testing
with a conventional doctor, be prepared for possible difficulties. One problem may be that the doctor does not “believe in” food allergies and may tell you that they are very rare among adults. You may be told that you cannot possibly have an allergy because your reactions are delayed or don’t involve typical allergy symptoms such as hives, near-immediate diarrhea or vomiting, asthma or other breathing problems, or anaphylaxis.
Another problem you may encounter is disagreement about the definition of food allergy. Conventional doctors often make a distinction between reactions that are mediated by IgE antibodies, which they consider “true” allergies, and reactions mediated by IgG antibodies, cell mediated immunity or other mechanisms. They call these reactions sensitivities or intolerances. In spite of attempts to marginalize them, these types of reactions can cause chronic health problems just as serious or even more serious than some IgE mediated allergies. For more about the semantics of food allergies, see this page: http://www.food-allergy.org/page1.html. To find a doctor who believes in and will accurately diagnose food allergies, search the American Academy of Environmental Medicine physician database here: http://www.aaemonline.org/.
The reluctance of the medical establishment to diagnose food allergies and add avoidance of problem foods to their patients’ health-improvement arsenal, in my opinion, is a contributing factor to our national epidemic of increasing overweight and associated conditions such as diabetes. I believe that there are many adults who suffer from undiagnosed food allergies. Their allergies can cause allergic cravings, which drive them to overeat their problem foods. In addition, eating a food one is allergic to causes the adrenal glands to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which set off a hormonal cascade that inhibits the burning of body fat. (For a more detailed explanation of this, see these pages: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/why_are_we_overweight.html and http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/controlling_hormones.html). Furthermore, the inflammation that results from allergic reactions makes our master weight control hormone, leptin, function less effectively. (For more about inflammation and overweight, see this page: http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com/inflammation.html).
Therefore, for best health, control of chronic illness, and normal weight, do not ignore signs of food allergies your body may be giving to you. If you can’t afford or don’t have time for doctor-administered food allergy testing, consider a blood test followed by a rotation diet. See how you feel after you eliminate all of your problem foods. It may be better than you have felt in a long time, with effortless achievement of a healthy weight as part of the benefit.

About Nicolette M. Dumke

Nickie Dumke enjoys helping people with food allergies and gluten intolerance find solutions to their health and weight problems. She began writing books to help others with multiple food allergies over 20 years ago and the process culminated in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide. She says, “This book contains everything I know to help with food allergies,” and it has helped many people come back from near-starvation. Her other books address issues such as how to deal with time and money pressures on special diets, keeping allergic children happy on their diets, and more.

A few years ago, while listening to the struggles of an allergic friend on the Weight Watchers™ diet, she remembered her own weight struggles* many years ago and thought, “There has to be a better way.” This was the beginning of a new quest, and she is now helping those who are overweight due to inflammation (often due to unsuspected food allergies) or high-in-rice gluten-free diets, as well as those who are not food sensitive but want to lose weight permanently, healthily, and without feeling hungry and deprived. Her unique approach to weight and health presented in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss is based on body physiology and reveals why conventional weight-loss diets work against rather than with our bodies and therefore rarely result in permanent weight loss.

* (Nickie’s weight loss story, briefly, is that in her early 20s she could not lose on a calorie-counting diet in spite of repeatedly further reducing the number of calories she ate and swimming vigorously and often. Then she found a diet based on blood sugar control, lost weight without being hungry, and still weighs what she did in her mid-20s).

Nickie has had multiple food allergies for 30 years and has been cooking for special diets for family members and friends for even longer. Regardless of how complex your dietary needs are or how much or little cooking you have done, she has the books and recipes you need. Her books present the science behind multiple food allergies and weight control in an easily-understood manner. She has BS degrees in medical technology and microbiology. She and her husband live in Louisville, Colorado and have two grown sons.
You can visit Nickie’s websites at http://www.foodallergyandglutenfreeweightloss.com and http://www.food-allergy.org.

About Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss

Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss answers the question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” Because it’s hard to put a puzzle together if you’re missing some of the pieces. We’ve been missing or ignoring the most important pieces in the puzzle of how our bodies determine whether to store or burn fat. Those puzzle pieces are hormones such as insulin, cortisol, leptin, and others.

In addition, we’ve been given some puzzle pieces that don’t belong or fit in the weight-control puzzle. Much of what we’ve heard about dieting and exercise is incorrect and can cause loss of muscle mass instead of fat or even result in weight gain. The idea that weight is determined solely by “calories in minus calories out” is an assumption not based in reality. Most weight-loss diets require us to endure hunger much of the time, but hunger means that our blood sugar is falling or low and our insulin level may be rising. Prolonged hunger leads to the release of adrenal hormones, and the hormonal cascade which follows results in the inability to burn our own body fat as well as causing any fat we eat to be stored rather than burned to give us en

Another problem with most weight loss diets is that they strictly dictate food choices, lack the flexibility that those on special diets for food allergies or gluten-intolerance require, and deprive us of pleasure. Individuals with food allergies face additional weight-loss challenges such as inflammation due to allergies which can lead to our master weight control hormone, leptin, being unable to do its job of maintaining a healthy weight. Those with gluten intolerance often eat a diet too high rice. Rice is the only grain which is high on the glycemic index in its whole grain form; thus eating too much of it will raise insulin levels and cause the body to deposit fat. Although the recipes in this book were developed for those on special diets, non-sensitive people will enjoy them as well, and the weight loss principles in this book will help anyone lose weight. (A chapter of recipes made with wheat and other problematic foods is included for those on unrestricted diets).

The most frustrating deficiency of conventional weight loss diets is that they don’t work long-term. Low-calorie, low-fat diets can lead to loss of muscle mass, and with less muscle to burn calories, this type of diet effectively reduces metabolic rate so we need less food. Rare is the person who loses weight by counting calories and keeps it off after they liberalize their diet! However, continual dieting for the rest of your life is not the way you need to live, and you do not have to be deprived of pleasure in order to lose weight. Overweight is not due to a lack of willpower. Rather, it is due to a chemical imbalance in our bodies. Once we begin to correct that imbalance by applying the principles in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, we can lose weight without hunger or deprivation and can maintain a healthy weight permanently and easily by regaining normal self-regulating hormonal control of our weight.

Guest Post – Nicolette M. Dumke, author of FOOD ALLERY AND GLUTEN-FREE WEIGHT LOSS

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