Most of us recognize that eating sweets full of sugar and food dyes isn’t doing our bodies any favors, but we’ll sometimes allow it in moderation. However, there is a category of food that most people don’t know to avoid: food allergens. Most people who come into our offices for the first time are eating foods that cause inflammation and health challenges, and they don’t even know it. Why? Because when people think of having “allergies,” they think of throat swelling, rashes, and EpiPens. They think of IgE allergies. However, IgE allergies aren’t the only type of allergic reactions in the body.
Types of Allergies
Your body produces five different antibodies to infections or allergen invaders. These are IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD, and IgE antibodies. Let’s focus on the two we test in our office for food allergies: IgG and IgE antibodies. IgE, as stated above, creates immediate reactions that can lead to the need for an EpiPen. However, it’s important to note that IgEs make up only about .03% of antibodies in our immune system. IgG antibodies, on the other hand, make up about 80% of our antibodies. They show up as a delayed response, and symptoms can be far more subtle and take longer to show up. This can make it more challenging to connect the symptoms to the food trigger.
What Does an IgG Response Look Like?
IgG antibodies cause inflammation as they fight the allergen in question. The symptoms of an IgG reaction are not from the allergen itself as much as the resulting inflammation. Instead of your throat swelling so much that it’s hard to breathe as an IgE response might present, symptoms of an IgG response can vary widely. Examples may include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Joint pain
- Mood swings (Anxiety, Aggressiveness, Irritability)
- Dark circles under eyes
- Canker sores
- Sinus problems
- Brain fog
- Excess weight
Inflammation is the cause of all dis-ease. Because the above are symptoms caused by inflammation and not the allergen itself, they can also be signs of other conditions. Or they might be shrugged off as “a bad day” if you have chronic inflammation. You may never realize what you’re experiencing is an allergic reaction without getting tested to know that a certain food is an allergen for you.
Through consulting with patients, Wellness Way practitioners have found several foods that commonly show up on allergy tests. Not only are these foods common “red foods” (link to allergen condition page), but they’re common foods in the standard diet, making them tricky to avoid.
Most Common Food Allergies People Don’t Know They Have
Milk and other dairy products are very inflammatory foods and common allergens everyone should avoid. Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc. clearly dairy products, making them easy to avoid. What is less apparent is when milk is added to processed foods. This is when you have to be very careful with this allergy. You should avoid all processed or prepared foods because milk hides under names like artificial butter, casein, caseinates, lactalbumin, whey, lactoglobulin, and more. You can find these in guacamole and ranch powder mixes, salad dressings, soups, breakfast cereals, and even ramen noodles. The good news is you can find dairy-free recipes for just about anything! Check out the embedded links to see our suggestions.
BAKER’S YEAST AND/OR BREWER’S YEAST
These yeasts are ingredients that many people don’t even think about yet are prevalent food allergies. Baker’s and brewer’s yeasts come from different Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungus strains. It’s common that if you are allergic to one, you are likely allergic to the other. Baker’s yeast can be found in bread, baked goods, soy sauce, miso, and MSG. Brewer’s yeast is found in alcohol, beer, and wine. It’s also in vinegar (except white and ACV), tamari sauce, ciders, and dried fruits.
Wheat is another very inflammatory food and common allergen that everyone should consider eliminating. It can be hard to avoid because it is in many foods like bread, pizza crust, crackers, noodles, pretzels, cereals, rolls, cookies, and cakes. It also hides in salad dressings, soups, seasonings, lunch meats, and soy sauce. Beer is another tough one for people who have a wheat allergy. We shared some of our favorite gluten-free beers in our Cleaner Drinking article.
Eggs get a bad rap due to the cholesterol that isn’t as unhealthy as some would have you to believe. The nutrition in eggs, and their health-supporting benefits, are reason to keep eating them, unless you find out you have an egg allergy. If it turns out you do, avoid eggs and foods containing eggs, like baked goods, mayonnaise, pasta, pretzels, marshmallows, battered foods, and even some wines. Yes, eggs are sometimes used in the wine-making process. So, if you are allergic to eggs, you want to switch to vegan wine.
Pepper is one of the most common food allergies we see in our patients, and one of the hardest to avoid. Black or white pepper is in virtually all processed foods and is hard to avoid when eating out. When reading the labels on packaged foods, you will often see pepper. If you don’t see pepper, you will probably see “seasoning” or “spices,” which you can be sure likely includes pepper. You may want to call the manufacturer to verify whether pepper is included in their spices and seasonings or not.
“Common Allergens” Does Not Mean “Your Only Allergens”
Getting your food allergies tested is the best way to find out what you are allergic to. While the above are some of the most common allergies, they’re far from the only things that might affect your body.
Sometimes people discover they are allergic to some pretty surprising foods. Lettuce, limes, lemons, artichokes, spinach, kale, and every other “health food” has the potential to be an allergen just as much as dairy or peanuts. If you are allergic to a food—yes, even if it’s healthy—eating it is doing your body far more harm than good.
The First Step to Reclaiming Your Health
If you don’t get your allergies tested, you don’t know what to avoid. If you don’t avoid what is causing your body more stress, you’re creating more inflammation. Get your allergies tested to find out what you don’t know. When you get the results back, if you have some common “red foods,” know you’re not alone. That’s precisely why our website has so many allergy-friendly recipes—to help you get started. Whether you’re trying to provide for a picky eater or working to get your health back on track, you’ll find something to smile about!
Contact a Wellness Way clinic today to get your allergies tested and help your immune system relax and get back in balance!