The Allergy Research Foundation (AFR) claims there is abundant evidence that conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and asthma are linked to food allergies. Despite being known for decades, this assaociation is still not fully recognized by many GPs, which can result in years of suffering for patients before they are properly diagnosed.
Joseph Egger, professor of neurology at the Children’s Hospital in Munich, showed that changes in brain mapping take place in children, suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD) after they have eaten certain foods, such as milk, chocolate and cereals. KEAC has shown that one in four people suffers from some form of allergic disease, whether it be a food or environmental sensitivity.
Food intolerance is believed to cause or exacerbate such conditions as asthma, migraine, nasal congestion, eczema, hyperactivity, IBS, and Crohn’s disease. One in ten children has eczema and an estimated one in seven has asthma. In our research 50% of patients improved within 20 days after carrying out an IgG4-test. Between 6-10% of children under the age of three will have symptoms associated with food, especially cow’s milk. But most of these allergies disappear as a child grows older. For the 22% of those with IBS, the ARF believes a change in diet can help alleviate the problems in half of those cases. Likewise, evidence shows that 50% of those suffering from Crohn’s disease feel better when a particular food is eliminated from their diet.
Doctors are skeptical
However, many doctors are still resistant to the idea that medical conditions can be effectively managed by controlling diet, rather than by more traditional methods using pharmaceutical drugs. Dr. Michael Tettenborn, a consultant pediatrician at the Frimley Children’s Centre in Surrey, has used diet management to tackle a range of problems in children, including ADD, IBS and migraine. Dr Tettenborn says: “We are trying to get the message over to the medical profession that diet management is a useful tool to explore. Dr Tettenborn believes many doctors have turned against dietary management because of excessice claims about its potential impact, adding that skepticism has been fueled by the invention by non-medical practitioners of some tests of “very dubious validity” to prove the worthiness of this approach. A further problem was that medical students were not taught about the subject during their training.
There is a strong evidence that IgG allergy/intolerance known in Britian as ‘ food intolerance ‘, is an important factor, even co-responsible, in a number of diseases. In IBS and migraine, there are studies demonstrating this: the first, published in October 2004, shows the link between IBS and IgG food reactions. Prof. N. Read, President of the IBS Network, explained:
‘ This is the first time that a change in diet based on a commercially available blood test, which tested food intolerance, is subject to scientific research and turns out to be effective. It seems that the IgG blood tests is a meaningful advice, to make changes to the diet and make effect, in the context of self-help within IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). ‘
The scale of the problem is in conventional medicine is well defined by allergist Prof. J. Brostoff in a broadcast by the BBC. In response to the question of what a patient with food intolerance should do Brostoff replied:
‘Go to the family doctor would be the answer, but most doctors are not interested in food intolerance and certainly not trained in diagnosing it. As long as medical students are not taught about food intolerance, our doctors here are not familiar with it. That is the reason that patients themselves have to try, in one way or another, to seek help.’
Professor Jonathan Brostoff, professor of allergy and environmental health, University College, London, said re-education of doctors was vital.
“The education system does not even mention nutrition, let alone food intolerance. We do not have a body of doctors who have learned about the role of food and diet in health,” he says. “The way we diagnose food intolerance is a bit ‘suck it and see’, and unfortunately the medical profession, which is very much clinical science-orientated, has made this sort of approach unacceptable.” Professor Brostoff believes the development of blood tests for food intolerance should be a priority.
The research demonstrating a link between IgG-allergy and IBS/migraine was cause for some practitioners and scientists to assume that it proved that IgG4-hypersensitivity does not exist.
Some practitioners and scientist assumed that the research demonstrating a link between IgG-allergy and IBS/migriane proved that IgG4-hypersensitivity does not exist. However it is clear that such assumptions emerge more as a result of fierce competition than from scientific fact. There is a large price difference between the various IgG or IgG4-allergy tests. Publications from a collaboration between the OGEM and General Surgery Departments of St. Georges Hospital Medical School in London and the Department of Gastroenterology at St. Helier Hospital in Carshalton show there is also a link between IgG4 antibodies against certain foods and IBS.
Zar, S. e.a. Food-Specific serum IgG4 and IgE titels to common food antigens in irritable bowel syndrome. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 100(2005), 1550-1557.
Isolauri, E., Rautava, S. en Kalliomäki, M. Food allergy in irritable bowel syndrome: new facts and old fallacies. Gut 53(2004):1391-1393
Atkinson, W. e.a. Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Gut 53(2004), 1459-1461.