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How to approach identification of food allergens?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 23, 2012 at 5:52 PM

I've been working with an acupuncturist I trust regarding some symptoms that may or may not be related. After several sessions in which I've not experienced any relief he suspects that I've got some food allergies. I've got a couple of questions about how to approach the investigation of what the allergies are.

  1. I'm considering doing an elimination diet for a couple of weeks. He gave me the example of lamb, yams, and rice as three foods that few people are allergic to that I could eat exclusively for a couple of weeks to see if symptoms subside. If you've done a paleo elimination diet, what few foods have you eaten?

  2. What foods have you found yourself allergic to on a Paleo diet? I eat virtually no dairy except for butter, I rarely eat any grains. I occasionally eat nuts (including non-Paleo peanuts). I largely eat meat, organs, some fish, fruits and vegetables. What are the likely suspects?

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on May 23, 2012
at 07:08 PM

Susan - Great and helpful response. I'll update this question over time as I learn what my food triggers are. It is a bit annoying, I have to say, that beef is a common allergen and I eat a fair amount of it!

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3 Answers

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2
004d08b6edf7473c15fbb634abb6d88a

(281)

on May 23, 2012
at 06:47 PM

There are several foods considered to be generally "non allergenic" which means that MOST people don't experience any sensitivities. However, this doesn't mean it's absolutely perfect for everyone. Kiwi is often touted as non-allergenic, but it will land my sister a fast trip to the ER. Rice is considered to be a safe food on most elimination diets but I have a friend whose daughter is extremely allergic to rice. This is the rice allergy I know of personally and it's probably pretty rare, but these are examples of why you should take a very personal approach to food sensitivies.

Elimination diets are a great tool, especially if used in combination with a detailed journal, as well as determination and a lot of patience. The best chance of truly identifying foods that you're sensitive to is the slow route -- this means adding in just one or two new foods a week. That's a challenge for some people, because they get bored or frustrated with their limited choices and jump ship. So you could do an elimination diet in stages instead of making it a year-long experiment.

Create a "base diet" of just a few foods. You can either choose those recommended by your specialist or you can research to find a list of the least allergenic foods or you can use your own experiences with foods to come up with a plan (or some combination thereof). Basically, you want to pick foods that are the least likely to be problematic for you. The general idea is to eat only these foods for a while, to let your body "clear" and reset. Often food allergies are masked because we eat them often enough that we don't notice the signals our bodies send. Instead, having occasional headaches or intestinal upsets or otherwise feeling slightly unwell becomes our "normal" and we don't realize it's because we've exposed ourselves to an allergen. Once we've removed these offenders for a while then it's more likely we'll get a more noticeable reaction if we add them back into our diet later.

Don't add too many foods too fast or it will be difficult to pinpoint what has caused issues for you. There is also the "bundled" approach that has worked for some people -- add small groups of foods at a time say you try five new foods each week. If you have any type of unpleasant effects then you set those foods aside until you can do a strict elimination, adding only one at a time from that group until you identify which one(s) are the culprits.

As for what might be causing issues in your current diet, it's hard to tell. Unless you are eating very clean it could be from one or more additives, preservatives, or even pesticide residues you may be consuming. Some people are very sensitive and even minute quantities of these substances can cause issues. Peanuts are a frequent problem for a lot of people, even those who don't have a serious allergy. Also, you say that you rarely eat grains, however, if it turns out that you do indeed have trouble properly digesting grain proteins, you should know that the polypeptide chains formed from improperly digested grains can linger in the body a long time, months in some cases of people with celiac disease. So you may need to go on a strict grain-free diet for six months and see if that improves some of your issues.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on May 23, 2012
at 07:08 PM

Susan - Great and helpful response. I'll update this question over time as I learn what my food triggers are. It is a bit annoying, I have to say, that beef is a common allergen and I eat a fair amount of it!

2
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on May 23, 2012
at 09:34 PM

Look into GAPS protocol, its an elimination diet and will help you identify foods that cause you issues. Whats a safe food for one person is not always for another, I was at one point intolerant to lamb and I still can't eat rice; so you have to figure out whats right for you.

Read up on SCD as well and see if its another option, Paleo is great but it's you who has to do the 'elimination' of foods, this is just a way of life really.

-1
261e7a073fc632bfd01d8c3691ba410c

on May 24, 2012
at 09:50 AM

Food allergy is a public health problem that affects children and adults and may be increasing in prevalence. The disease can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of symptoms. The diagnosis of food allergy also may be difficult because non-allergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, are often mistakenly classified as food allergies. To prevent the misery caused by these problem ,you'll find advice and information to help you and your family from http://www.texallergy.com/

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