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Food Allergy Abstracts

The subject of food allergy is fascinating from many points of view. In my opinion, it is one of the more important topics in the study of practical medicine and one of the most ignored. The ignorance of delayed patterns of food allergy among physicians is embarrassing. Official denial is understandable; since powerful vested interests are threatened by the possibility that food allergy is a cause of common of endemic diseases. Denial is the best defense if you are marketing foods that cause disease, but are generally considered to be "safe foods."

This collection of abstracts and references is part of an introduction to the study of food allergy recommended to all who are interested in the food causes of disease. The theory and practice are discussed in two other books Managing Food Allergy and Immunology Notes; the abstracts are supplementary to these texts. This volume also lists references to papers published before 1985 that established delayed patterns of food allergy as mechanisms of immune mediated disease that may underlie the most common and unsolved disease processes.

The reader of the abstracts will notice considerable differences in the opinions stated, especially about the prevalence and mechanisms of food allergy. A brief introduction to this complicated subject will allow the reader to develop a perspective on the play of variables in the often confused medical mind.

There are rich leads for further research, good insights for clinicians, and a good resource for patients and their families who usually have solve food-related diseases on their own.

A Very Brief Introduction

The concept of immune responses to food antigens is useful in understanding many diseases. Many of the major unsolved disease of our civilization are either degenerative and/or inflammatory and many are recognized to be inflammatory, immune-mediated, hypersensitivity diseases. The term "hypersensitivity" refers to immune-mediated processes that lead to disease. As we consider the possible role of food antigens in causing or contributing to immune-mediated diseases, we look for opportunities to help patients with simple and safe therapeutic strategies such as diet revision.

The basic phenomena that concern us are:

  1. Food antigens activate immune networks

  2. Activated immune networks produce symptoms 

  3. Long-term activation of immune networks causes chronic disease, often featuring inflammation in target organs.

  4. The food supply is the most abundant and continuous source of antigenic material.

Rheumatic diseases, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, insulin-dependent diabetes, thyroiditis, psoriasis are examples of hypersensitivity diseases that involve humoral and cell-mediated immunity. The common specific problems that are related to allergy include asthma, rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, anaphylaxis, angioedema, allergic gastroenteropathy, and allergic arthritis. Many patients will express several of these hypersensitivity phenomena over a lifetime and demonstrate an underlying tendency to be hypersensitive. An important concern is the possibility that the chemical soup created by our civilization drives increasing numbers of individuals into hypersensitivity illness.

Often, the patient who benefits from proper diet revision is distanced from a medical profession who is either not interested or denies the problem of food allergy. Some of the issues that arise are semantic and political, but other issues involve the very complex biology of food-body interactions that are not well understood.  Other issues involve the changes in the food supply that have accelerated in the past few decades. When you do not know about food allergy, you are surrounded by mysterious diseases. When you know about food allergy, several common illness patterns begin to make more sense.

In response to allergy lobby groups in the USA, the US Congress passed a bill that requires notice on the labels of foodstuffs that contain eight of the most common food allergens. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, will require plain English labeling by the year 2006 of products containing wheat, cows milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, or eggs. These account for an estimated 90% of all food allergies. The bill also requires the Food and Drug Administration to develop a definition of the term "gluten-free" to help those with celiac disease and who require a gluten free diet for other reasons. 

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