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Food Allergies and Food Intolerances Reveal The True Human Diet
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March 21, 2011
7:00 pm
Kelly
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I have a friend that is allergic to pork. Only turkey bacon for her.

May 20, 2011
12:53 pm
Squeakers
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Very informative. Delighted to have run across your site. 🙂

May 20, 2011
5:52 pm
Paleo Pepper »
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[...] Food allergies and intolerances reveal the true human diet [...]

May 21, 2011
3:31 pm
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Squeakers:

Thank you! It's a lot of work, and definitely a labor of love.

JS

July 17, 2011
7:15 pm
AmyNVegas
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Well fortunately and unfortunately I had skin prick allergy testing for foods about 2 years ago when I found out food allergies have a strong tie to food addiction, and found out I am allergic to all kinds of foods from all different food groups. Proteins- beef, lamb, lobster, oysters, and all fish except salmon. Plants- all nuts except for hazelnuts and cashews,spinach, broccoli, all peppers, watermelon, peaches, apricots, nectarines, raspberries, spices-cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper, clove, and soy and wheat for grains. Wheat was a good one to find out about because I found out about Paleo eating from Gluten Free for Dummies and started reading about and eating a Paleo/Primal diet. I eliminated all the allergens from my diet for 6 weeks then tried each one to see what it did. Unfortunately beef makes me swell and gain at least five pounds from just one serving and bison does the same thing if I have 2 or more servings close together. So chicken, eggs, pork, and salmon along with shrimp and the occasional scallop are my main proteins. I really miss beef! But I have lost 81 pounds since going Paleo/Primal and I have about 100 more to go but I feel so much better. I have almost no inflammation which had taken over my body and my back and all my joints hurt to the point where I could barely stand by the end of each day. I have energy and even at 300 pounds, my current weight, I move and have more stamina than my much smaller friends and colleagues, and I feel great. I try to share with others what I am doing but even though they want to know what makes me look and feel so great they hear Paleo/Primal and hear no grain and they tune out or think it will be too hard or is unhealthy(hello been surviving this way for 2 years). Maybe once I lose another 100 pounds they will get it.

July 18, 2011
3:27 pm
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AmyNVegas:

It sounds like you've had an ordeal!  That serious a set of allergies is usually due to leaky gut (often undiagnosed celiac), especially since they've improved after going Paleo.

And yes, it's still possible for people to become allergic to beef...it's just very, very uncommon compared to the Big Eight.  I even know someone who's allergic to chicken.

Congratulations on figuring out what was happening to you, and especially on losing 80 pounds...that's almost an entire extra person worth of weight!  I wish you the best in your journey, and feel free to stop by anytime.

JS

September 19, 2011
9:47 am
Donna
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I have a long time friend who has been "lactose-intolerant" all his life. A few years ago, I came across information on celiac disease and mentioned it to him. He looked into it and eliminated all gluten. Some months later, he discovered he is no longer "lactose-intolerant".

So this is perhaps anecdotal evidence of an "allergy" that was actually a symptom of an underlying problem such as "leaky gut" (caused by gluten intolerance). Once the "leaky gut" was healed, the other allergy seem to disappear.

September 19, 2011
2:45 pm
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Donna:

You're absolutely correct.  That's a very common situation, particularly among people with multiple food allergies and intolerances: what they really have is leaky gut caused by eating gluten grains.  Once the gut heals, many of the intolerances slowly diminish.

You don't even have to have gluten intolerance: gluten grains cause increased intestinal permeability in everyone.

JS

October 10, 2011
12:44 pm
Scotlyn
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Re the genetics of lactose tolerance v. intolerance, it strikes me that for natural selection to have been able to enhance lactose tolerance in populations exposed to dairy foods past infancy (which from my readings, appears to have happened slightly differently in European v African pastoral populations) there would have to be a background genetic variability in relation to lactose tolerance in the pre-existing human population, such that some individuals in any given population would be lactose tolerant even with no selection pressure. Selection can't work if there is no genetic variability for it to work on.

October 10, 2011
11:23 pm
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Scotlyn:

I'm sure you're right.  And lactase persistence evolved multiple times independently, as you implied.  So the potential had to have existed across the human population.

JS

February 20, 2012
11:35 am
mzg
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Thanks for the great allergy description. I have had a variety of types of allergy testing including my own process of elimination--feeling great eating particular foods , then adding in 1 suspectd food . a bit at a time to note adverse reactions. It turns out that i have allergies to shell fish,. all dairy, butter (cow and goat), soy, eggs, wheat, other gluten proteins, peanuts, some tree nuts, potatoes, egg plant, and peppers, . This is not a problem in and of itself. I can do great on a strict paleo as I am currently superlatively healthy on it. BUT until all these allergies were diagnosed I had so many diverse, strong Adverse reactions, that various doctors diagnosed various serious diseases and recommmended various drugs which if I had taken I would have been either dead or seriously ill--worse than my adverse food allergies. When i SUGGESTED to the doctors that since i AM a person with some diagnosed allergies including a couple of foods, perhaps I have various undiagnosed food allergies and also all 4 types of allergic responses---most of them said there are NOT 4 types of allergies and that I do not have food allergies, but I have Long QT syndrome, heart failure, diabetess, pre diabetes and a list of other things, including the fact that they are absolutely sure that if I keep taking bhrt I will have cancer because of 1 study by phizer on premnarin (DUUUHH!!) I was so shocked to find out that these doctors were so stupid. Guess what---- I am perfectly healthy and have food allergies to neolithic foods. I also suggested to the cardiologist who saw me for sudden atrial fibrillation that on my new paleo and gluten free diet I had become so healthy that my hypothyroid meds were too high and this was the cause. She said that was impossible. I had the dos lowered and everything is fine.This was backed up by the fact the my tsh had gone from .8 to .03, and my rT3 wqas way high etc. I alos looked into the energy metabolism of the heart and how much of which electrolytes are required for health and changed my diet to include these by food and/or supplement. I also took taurine (amino acid) and Arjuna(ayervidic medicine) as neuromodulators for the heart and brain. When I suggested these to the various doctors they said it would give me arterioclerosis and heart arrythmisas and I should take liptor (even though my numbers are not too high) and also beta blockers (even though my resting pulse is 58). I then told my cardiologist I had gone on a high (good)fat diet because it would increase my osmotic pressure (more water in the blood in veins going back to the heart) and this would make my heart function better and avoid hear failure and it also removed my varicose veins. The doctor said if I did this I would die. How can doctors not know how the body actually works?? I am horrified .--but currently very healthy. what is wrong with our medical system??????????????????????

February 21, 2012
12:21 pm
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mzg:

Having previously dealt with health issues I finally traced to a Type III allergy, I too have been puzzled by the medical establishment's refusal to acknowledge the existence of Type II-IV allergies -- despite their being discussed in detail in every undergrad microbiology text.  And though I've never had thyroid issues myself, I've heard horror stories about endocrinologists...

Unfortunately there is a lot of quackery around 'alternative' allergy testing (holding vials of allergens in your hand, colored lights, etc.) but that doesn't invalidate basic biochemistry.

I think the problem is that doctors are taught almost nothing about nutrition (see Anastasia's excellent article here), and as a consequence, feel that it can't possibly be relevant to anyone's state of health beyond perhaps making them fat.  Add that to the constant lobbying and gift-giving by drug companies, and it's easy to see how they tend to look at diseases as drug deficiencies.

Like most issues, it comes down to money.  Prescribing a drug makes money for the drug company, the physician, and the media (drug ads = $$$).  Fixing someone's diet doesn't make any money for anyone but a local farmer or rancher. 

At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own health.  A doctor isn't like an auto mechanic, where you can just drag your broken metabolism into a hospital and say "Fix this and bill my credit card."  If you're lucky they'll spend a minute looking at your chart before you show up, instead of reading it right in front of you during your appointment.  This is the reality of the medical industry today: sick people are a profit center.  There is little incentive to return you to health, and every incentive to maintain you on expensive drug regimens...and even though individual doctors are usually doing their best with what they know, they're just one cog in a very large machine.

I'm glad you've managed to find your own way to good health!  Meanwhile, we can all work to inform others about good sources of information -- I'm doing my best by writing articles and publishing them here at gnolls.org -- so that we can keep ourselves healthy and fit.

JS

August 13, 2012
6:22 pm
David
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Shellfish already pushed back to 164k ago. And we're talking middens, big dumpings of shells and not casual gathering. No way ancient humans did take advantage of food that couldn't run away and was full of vitamins, whenever it was convenient. I myself have eaten a few mussels I've picked up along the riverbank.

Keep in mind that casual consumption isnt easy to track from a million years away and that much of the evidence is now far from water that has long disappeared, or is under water after the seas rose.

Migration out of Africa is being pushed back to 100k years ago for some groups.

Good article though. I've got casein allergy myself and an insensitivity to gluten, but it's not bad. I can have a piece of cake on my birthday if I want. Know people with fruit allergies. Two who claim beef allergy, and I believe one of them because he's massively allergic to all meats, especially undercooked, and a host of other things.

I don't understand the medical community. I really don't.

August 27, 2012
3:25 pm
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David:

Yes, I already use the 160 KYa figure in the article.

However, I'm a bit skeptical of hypotheses that claim "OF COURSE this has to have been the way it happened, even though we have no physical evidence."  If shellfish were a major food source, you'd think we'd find some traces of smashed-open shellfish somewhere...there aren't a lot of calories in an oyster or mussel, so it would take a lot of them to provide any significant dietary contribution (evidence we've found in abundance in the South African middens you mention).

And given our skills in interpreting bone taphonomy, I think we ought to be able to do similar reconstructions on shellfish remains: if anything, opening an oyster with rocks is more difficult, and should leave more scrape marks, than scraping meat off of bones with rocks.  

Note that I'm not arguing against the possibility of early shellfish consumption -- I'm just pointing out that given the physical evidence we have, it's not the most parsimonious interpretation.  And the prevalence of shellfish allergies does argue against it being a major dietary constituent from so long ago.  It would be interesting to look at relative allergy rates from different human genetic stocks...

The medical community as a whole is a profit-seeking enterprise.  Many individuals within it act for their own moral reasons, to the degree they can do so and maintain job security -- but if you understand it as a business, not a societal good, you'll have a much clearer picture.

JS

September 14, 2012
3:16 pm
Steve Kinna
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kick-ass write-up from you! thanks!

September 17, 2012
7:07 pm
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Steve:

I do my best: I'm glad you find it useful.

JS

April 1, 2013
10:02 am
Melody
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JS,

Often allergic reactions to fruits and vegetables are due to something called oral allergy syndrome. And in that case the person isn't actually allergic to the fruit or vegetable, but rather it is a case of the body getting confused. Proteins that are in the fruit/veg are similar to proteins found in grasses, weeds, or trees that the person is allergic to and the body thinks that is what has been eaten. So, for example, I am allergic to ragweed. The proteins in ragweed are similar enough to those found in bananas and melons that when I eat those my body has a reaction - with bananas a bad stomach ache and with melons itchy, swelling lips and heartburn.

Interestingly, I gave up dairy for a while, due to a suspicion that I have a sensitivity to it, and the oral allergy syndrome improved drastically, after getting worse and worse for many years.

Melody

April 6, 2013
12:26 am
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Melody:

I hadn't heard of oral allergy syndrome, probably because I've never suffered hay fever.  Very interesting!  It seems like there might be more allergy cross-reactions that we don't understand as well.

Your experience is yet another data point to add to my empirical observation that dairy is worth eliminating on a trial basis...many people observe that it clears up nagging issues of all kinds, most for reasons we don't understand yet.  There's a reason I've kept in Eat Like A Predator for years.

JS

August 3, 2013
7:26 pm
Jacci
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Hi JS,

I'm new to Paleo mostly as a result of reading your blog. I've only been eating this way for a month or so with great results (more energy, weight loss, better sleep), but today as I was eating a grass fed burger from my local farmer like I do every week, I got a severe allergic reaction. I have no food allergies and have never had a reaction to anything. My entire body was covered in a rash like hives, and I felt like my skin was on fire. It was painful and lasted a few hours till my boyfriend went to speak with the pharmacist and got me some allergy medicine. Then a friend told me about the Lone Star tick that makes people allergic to red meat. I read some articles on NPR and other sites and it sounds like what happened to me. I'm very worried about not being able to eat red meat as it is really saving my life right now. (I was vegetarian for a while and deficient in everything!) Do you know anything about it? Have any other readers mentioned this?

-JBFD

August 3, 2013
11:01 pm
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Jacci:

It's a rare syndrome (the founders only know of ~1500 cases so far, though there are likely more) and we don't know much about that yet.  For instance, no one knows whether it's a component of the tick's saliva, some parasite within it, or something else entirely that triggers the allergy.  What we do know is:

1. The allergy appears to be to a sugar known as alpha-gal

2. The reaction doesn't occur every time someone eats mammal meat. Some only get it when they eat a lot of meat, some only get it to certain types of red meat, some will get it even when consuming gelatin.  Note that pork contains alpha-gal, too, so it's not just red meat

3. Susceptibility to this consequence seems to run in families

4. Some people manage to "outgrow" the allergy if they avoid additional tick bites for an extended period (months? years?)

My strategy would be to continue being strictly gluten-free (leaky gut increases the probability of foreign material entering the bloodstream, and to move towards a more chicken and fish-based diet to see if that indeed improves your symptoms. 

On the other hand, if you reacted after the burger but not after other meat, that seems to argue against meat allergy, as pork contains alpha-gal too.

More information here.  Let us know what you find out. 

JS

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