Article on Food Intolerances: My Story

Delayed-Onset Food Allergies
Written by: Leaine Brebner

Today’s world is a blur of rush hour traffic, instant meals, instant gratification, short cuts and unhealthy choices, which is so far removed from the way our ancestors used to live; feeding off of raw foods such as fruits, berries, roots and fish and running across fields in search of shelter and away from danger. However, our bodies have not changed to accommodate our modern lifestyle and are therefore not entirely able to cope with today’s hectic pace.

When we are stressed, our fight or flight reactions are triggered, but because we do not fight or run away from the problem like our ancestors did, the chemical reactions that are triggered do not get eliminated from the body, but instead manifest themselves in other ways, such as giving us heart palpitations, shaking hands, an inability to sit still or to concentrate effectively.

The food we eat today, which we have not adapted to, may also have adverse affects on our bodies without us even realising it.

I am a perfect example.

For years I have been living a less than fulfilling life, without even realising I was doing so – I just assumed it was normal to feel the way I was feeling.  

My symptoms included:

·         Extreme mood swings
·         Anxiety
·         Abdominal bloating as well as excessive stomach pain and gurgling noises in my chest and throat
·         Heart burn and indigestion
·         water retention and unexplained weight gain
·         Constipation
·         Duodenal Ulcers and a Hiatus Hernia
·         Migraines
·         Disturbed sleep
·         Dizzy spells
·         Sinus and sore throats
·         Sleepiness after meals
·         A lack of energy
·         Food cravings
·         A feeling of being dazed and confused

All of these symptoms, unbeknownst to me at the time, were caused by eating foods that I had delayed-onset allergic reactions to. These are known as IgG allergic reactions or Type 3 allergic reactions and can affect as many as one in three of us. These are different to Type 1 allergic reactions, which occur immediately or within 2 hours of consuming the food, such as an allergy to fish or nuts, where the sufferer’s lips swell or throat closes. Type 3 allergies occur 2 hours to several days after consuming the food – for this reason many people can go their whole lives without being aware that they have an allergy to a certain food.

Other Type 3 symptoms include:

·         Eczema
·         Asthma
·         Irritable bowel syndrome
·         Rheumatoid arthritis
·         Iron deficiency anaemia
·         Aching joints
·         Hay fever
·         Vomiting/Nausea
·         Diarrhoea
·         Wind

In most cases, food allergies develop when the inner lining of the digestive tract becomes damaged or abnormally “leaky” due to the use of antibiotics, an excessive intake of alcohol, infections, stress and environmental poisons. Food proteins are thus able to slip into the blood stream through gaps in the damaged intestinal wall; the immune system then picks these up as being foreign and attacks the food particles by sending out antibodies. The antibodies which fasten themselves to the food particles are known as immunoglobulin (Ig), the large “G” in IgG is the type of family the immunoglobulin belongs to. The antibodies attached to the food particles become immune complexes, which travel around the body and inhabit different tissues, organs and vascular systems, causing inflammatory reactions wherever they settle.

The immune system of the intestine is the largest and most important in the body; estimated to contain more immune cells and produce more antibodies than any other organ. Therefore it is a vital defence against food allergens and infections. If the intestinal lining is damaged it is unable to carry out its job effectively; by acting as a barrier against the body’s internal environment and preventing the entry of harmful toxins and incompletely digested foods from entering the blood stream. It also allows the safe passage of important vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids, which do not reach their destination in a damaged intestine, resulting in other problems such as lacklustre, brittle hair and nails, bad skin and a weak immune system.

The more often a certain food in consumed, the more the immune system creates antibodies to fight it, which results in more and more inflammation (in essence a warzone inside the body) and eventually an intolerance to that food. This then causes a trigger reaction as eating foods you are allergic to weakens the lining even more and causes further food intolerances.

The most common allergy-inducing foods are dairy products, yeast, eggs and grains – especially wheat.

I was found to be highly allergic to dairy products, yeasts, eggs, and garlic as well as glutens, but especially wheat.

Cow’s milk has been proven to be the most common food allergy and it isn’t surprising considering it is packed full of hormones, designed specifically for a calf’s first few months of life. It is also a relatively new addition to the human diet. Approximately 75 percent of the population stops producing lactase, the enzyme that is needed to break down the milk sugar lactose, once they’ve been weaned, which just goes to show that we are not designed to drink milk after early childhood.

Cow’s milk is one of the top food allergens found in children and adults with poor sleep, asthma, eczema, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperactivity, bronchitis, bed-wetting, heartburn, indigestion, depression, chronic diarrhoea and chronic fatigue.

A number of foods you would assume not to contain milk, do; including breads, cereals, crisps, salad dressings, nougat, custard and some margarines.

It is essential to be vigilant in reading food labels, once you have been diagnosed with a food allergy.

Some foreign words, which you may find on food labels, and that indicate the presence of cow’s milk are lactabumin, casein, sodium caseinate, lactose, whey casein, milk solids and hydrolysates.

Goat’s and sheep’s milk are not possible alternatives to cow’s milk because they all contain casein, which means that the immune system is unlikely to differentiate between the different milks.

Safe substitutes are soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk, unless you have allergies to these.  

Gluten grains are also fairly new to the human diet and consist of wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and triticale. As many as one in three people may be allergic to gluten because our bodies simply haven’t learnt to cope with it in the relatively short time we have been consuming it.

Symptoms include: sinusitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fatigue caused by malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal bloating, anaemia, depression and weight loss.

Alternatives to wheat include corn, rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat.

Foods that contain gluten are: Pastas; all baked goods such as pizzas, bread, biscuits and cakes, unless stated that they are gluten free. Fresh Earth sells wonderful gluten free breads, and some which are yeast free too. Remember to always read labels! Glutens are also hidden in many food items such as curry powders, tomato sauce, soups, sauces, processed cheese, sausages and even some medicines.

The reason why yeast is a common food allergen is because we are exposed to it on a daily basis without even realising it. Yeast, is not just found in baked goods, but also in soya sauce (Vital makes a yeast-free soya sauce); stock cubes (the make Marigold is yeast and gluten free); breakfast cereals; cheese; buttermilk; yoghurt with fruit; wine; beer; cider; spreads such as Marmite and Bovril; tinned and packet soups; peanuts and peanut butter; berries; melons; cherries; figs and fruit juices; overripe fruit; grapes; mushrooms; olives; capers; sausages; vinegar and all pickled foods as well as some biltong; tomato sauce; mustard; Worcester sauce; coffee and some vitamin products.

Reactions to egg white are much more common than to egg yolk, presumably because of the protein in egg white, ovomucoid. Eczema is a common symptom of an egg allergy. If you have an allergy to egg you should be aware of terms like albumin, egg substitutes, globulin, livetin, lecithin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucin and ovovitellin when reading food labels and avoid them.

Foods that contain egg include: breads and baked goods, chocolate and chocolate products, ice cream, puddings, nougat, pasta, sausages, mayonnaise, liquors, salad dressing, instant sauces and soups, condiments such as tomato sauce and mustard.

If you have four or more of the symptoms mentioned above, there is a strong possibility you may have Type 3 allergies to foods. It is recommended that you visit a homeopath such as the one I went to, Dr Tanith Davidson, who I have to thank for putting me on the road to recovery and making me realise what I have been missing out on and how great I can actually feel!

I was diagnosed with my food allergies in October 2009 and since then I have tried to cut out the offending foods wherever possible (I do cheat occasionally, but you can’t expect to avoid the foods all of the time – a perfect example is when I went overseas at the end of the year for a month – I struggled to avoid the foods and as a result I experienced intense stomach pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, nausea and vomiting as well as mood swings for most of my trip) Since returning home in January 2010 I have tried to be as focused as possible and have lost 6kgs, have a much flatter stomach (less bloating), am a lot happier, go to the toilet regularly, my sleep pattern is better and I very rarely feel dazed and confused, unless I cheat. In other words, I feel great!

The foods that I am allergic to are foods that I ate on a daily basis, therefore it was a massive adjustment to cut them out; I had also technically become addicted to some of the foods and would devour a packet of pretzels or crisps with ease and then proceed to feel drugged up, as endorphins were released into my body; I would turn to these foods when I was having a bad day, to improve my mood, but the highs were inevitably followed by intense lows!

I was also upset to give up wine and eating out at restaurants, which was a big part of my social life. On occasion I do still drink wine and go to a restaurant, and of course expect to feel really bad afterwards.

The good news is that if you have Type 3 allergies to foods, you can grow out of them, by eliminating them from your diet for a certain period of time (3 months to a year) depending on the severity of the allergy, as well as rotating the foods that you are still able to eat, within a four day cycle, so as not to create more food allergies. You are then able to slowly introduce the offending foods, one at a time, every four days, to see if there is still a reaction.

You will learn to listen to your body and as soon as you have eaten something you are allergic to, you will know all about it.

In order to eradicate food allergies, it is also essential to repair the damaged intestinal wall and to introduce healthy bacteria into your body, with the help of probiotics, which help to reduce allergies and promote a healthy intestinal environment. (It is best to consult a professional in this regard.)

The best way to find out if you have Type 3 allergies is by doing an ImuPro blood test. This test is specifically designed to reveal IgG antibodies against foods, which potentially cause chronic illnesses. A homeopath or nutritionist will be able to explain this in more detail.

For more information on type 3 allergies and for allergy-free recipes please visit:

Dr Tanith Davidson’s contact details are: 011 447 6532/

This article was compiled with the help of the book “Hidden Food Allergies: Is What You Eat Making You Ill?” by Patrick Holford and Dr James Braly as well as the handbook from my ImuPro test results and input from Dr Davidson.