Nutrichondriac – Self-Diagnosing Food Allergies When None Exist
What Are Food Allergies
A food allergy is an abnormal response to a certain food or ingredient by the immune system. The reaction can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the severity of the allergy. The most commonly known symptoms from an allergic reaction caused by food are itching & swelling, often inside or around the mouth, and hives or other observable changes to the surface of the skin. In severe cases additional symptoms of difficulty breathing due to throat constriction, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and a change in blood pressure may be observed.
Foods that are most commonly associated with allergic reactions are, in no specific order, peanuts or peanut-based products, shellfish, tree nuts such as walnuts or pecans, eggs, milk and dairy products containing lactose, soy, and wheat. In cases where a known allergy exists, avoid the food totally is the recommended action. In some cases, severe allergic reactions can cause permanent damage and even death; it’s recommended that anyone with severe allergies wear a medic alert bracelet and carry an adrenaline pen. This severe reaction is called anaphylaxis, and unlike contact allergies, it spreads throughout the entire body through the bloodstream. Adrenalin is used because it can quickly reduce swelling and stabilize blood pressure until medical help arrives.
Testing and Identifying Legitimate Food Allergies
Food allergies are often identified in early childhood, and much of the testing is performed on younger children. Because the environment we live in changes so often, it’s not uncommon for additional allergies to be diagnosed later in life. Testing is simple and the results are usually known before an individual leaves the doctor’s office. Many patients learn what to avoid after a single visit and their overall quality of life improves rapidly with proper identification and treatment of their diagnosed allergies.
Food allergy testing is primarily done through a skin test at a medical practitioner’s office. In addition to testing for food issues, this procedure can by use to test for allergies to certain medications, environmental contact allergies such as hay fever or other airborne pollen, latex, and even bee pollen. The testing is considered slightly invasive and can be conducted rather quickly (usually less than 1 hour).
A skin prick, also known as a skin puncture test is used to check for up to 40 different allergies at the same time. In this test, a tiny amount of the substance is injected into the surface layer of the skin using a lancelet. After 10-20 minutes, the sites are examined for signs of a reaction. Raised, bumpy, or redness are all indicators that an allergy is present; determining the severity of the allergy may require additional testing. It’s not a foolproof test, but is relied upon by the health-care community as a guideline for early treatment.
Self-Diagnoses Using Questionable Methodology
Despite the ease of the testing procedure, many people would rather instead rely on inconclusive studies, theories, and junk science, to diagnose themselves. This alarming trend has led nutritionists to coin a new term to describe the action of avoiding certain classes of foods because they think they are intolerant to them; it’s known as nutrichondria. The most common classes of foods that are included in this new thought process, are gluten and dairy. Another dynamic of this avoidance philosophy is connected to weight loss and perceived nutritional benefits associated with eliminating certain foods from your diet. A recent study by wellness genetics company DNA Fit found that nearly half the adults surveyed had self-diagnosed themselves as being gluten intolerant when only 15% of them were actually confirmed by proper testing. Additionally the same study revealed that 33% of test subjects diagnosed themselves as lactose intolerant.
Basing dietary choices on sketchy theories, especially ones promoted by celebrities or other notable individuals could be doing more harm than good. It’s really no different than using the internet to self-diagnose an illness or malady. Using trending stories or searching for information on websites that aren’t focused on actual medical information, will only provide limited facts, or in some cases, no facts at all. Common sense would say that if someone is trying to sell a supplement or product to “help” alleviate symptoms of something, then it should be taken with a high degree of skepticism. Fad diets have been around for as long a food has, or so it seems. History shows us that is most cases, they were nothing other than their names revel; fads. Impressionable people are likely to get caught in the trap and end up possibly avoiding bread or milk for years because of something they read on their favorite actresses’ blog.
Making Sense of Allergies - A Downloadable Guide from the Medical Community
Buyer Beware - Home Testing Kits
Also, there is a growing industry for home-based testing products, which again should be taken with a high degree of skepticism. Some of the tests rely on a blood test, while others are based on seemingly unconnected methods. One test uses hair another relies on grip strength, and still another measures electrical resistance when a person holds certain types of foods in their hands. Hair follicles have nothing to do with allergies. Electrical energy cannot determine food allergies and grip strength may be a great thing to understand, but it too is meaningless in checking for food allergies. Many of the companies which provide these tests are only after a quick financial gain and are not sanctioned by any medical governing body.
Because of the appeal of taking advice from our favorite celebrity, many people are not getting the correct level of nutrition. They are eliminating items like milk and bread, but aren’t replacing the vitamins, calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients found in these foods. What’s even more concerning is that these unproved methods are also being used by parents to dictate what their children are consuming. This irresponsible behavior is leading to malnutrition in situations where it shouldn’t happen. Proper diet is the most important thing in a child’s life and incorrect assumptions based on internet research or mail-in testing shouldn’t be a deciding factor in any case. Even though allergies are on the rise globally, they haven’t risen to the level that these behaviors seem to indicate. Before taking action on any diet or nutritional program that wasn’t prescribed by a medical professional, take time to evaluate the “bigger picture” and determine how the changes could impact your health.
© 2018 Ralph Schwartz