According to the FDA, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food each year. Some of these reactions are quite mild while others can be life-threatening. Because of these health risks, the government established the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. This requires food manufacturers to clearly label foods that contain ingredients that are in or derived from the top 8 food allergens.
I’ll go over those top 8 in just a minute, but I believe there is one HUGE food allergen that should be included in that list. Read on to learn more about food allergies, the foods that are listed in the top 8, the one I believe needs to be included, and some methods to minimize and even eliminate food allergies for good.
What are food allergies?
Simply put, food allergies are allergic reactions to foods. It’s when your body identifies a food particle as harmful and your immune system sets up a protective response. The most dangerous of the allergic responses is anaphylaxis which may come in the form of hives, throat constriction, vomiting, difficulty breathing, rapid heart beating, and more. These types of reactions occur within minutes to hours of coming in contact with the food and can lead to death if not treated expediently.
Food intolerances and sensitivities are a little different. They typically activate a different component of the immune system and symptoms may not develop for days, weeks, or even months. Some symptoms that may signify you have food intolerances or sensitivities are brain fog, headaches, gas/bloating, fatigue, and more. These symptoms are not as life-threatening as the ones that occur from food allergies. However, you need to be aware that constant bombardment of the immune system in this way may have life-threatening effects down the road.
The Top 8 Food Allergens
While almost any food can cause a reaction, the law only recognizes 8 that warrant labeling.
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts
I’m sure you have seen a label on a food package stating “this product contains milk and soy.” This labeling requirement is the result of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act I mentioned above.
Why Corn Should be a Recognized Food Allergen
After being diagnosed with food allergies to 8 different foods, I have my reasons for suggesting that corn be added to the list to be recognized by the federal government as a food allergen. Corn is in everything; it is second only to soy as being the most genetically modified food grown; and it is sprayed heavily with the herbicide, glyphosate.
Around 85% of the corn grown in this country is genetically modified. The purpose of growing corn genetically modified is so that it can withstand being sprayed with glyphosate. The purpose of spraying crops with glyphosate is to kill the crop and accelerate it’s drying. This, in turn, speeds up harvesting.
Why do they need to speed up harvesting? To produce more corn and make more money.
Why do they need to produce more corn? It’s needed to make more products, both food and non-food. This leads to my first point where I stated corn is in everything.
It’s easy for people to say, “well, if you’re allergic to corn, just don’t eat it.” Seems obvious right? Don’t eat corn, cornstarch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cornmeal, corn oil, popcorn, etc. That doesn’t seem too hard.
Insight into Corn Allergies
Let’s take a look at a few corn-derived products that don’t have the word corn in them. In other words, it’s hidden corn.
Despite its name, citric acid is a product that is mostly derived from corn. The same goes for distilled white vinegar. Here’s an example of a simple process that doesn’t have basic corn ingredients, but that has hidden corn in the form of citric acid and distilled white vinegar.
Animals raised for food go through a process to get them to your table. The meat may be sprayed with citric acid or distilled white vinegar before it’s hung to age. Then it may be packaged in a styrofoam container with a soaker pad under the meat. That soaker pad contains citric acid. So while it seems like everyone should be able to eat meat, the simple processing of the meat may be enough to affect someone with a corn allergy.
Here’s another example. Fruits should be safe, right? Well, fruits can be gassed, waxed, and washed in corn-derived substances. They can be sprayed with corn-derived pesticides and fertilizers. And they can be grown near corn crops which can cause enough cross-contamination to affect some people. So, no, not all fruits are safe for people with a corn allergy.
Finally, corn can be harmful even in non-food related environments. Take one of my own experiences as an example. As my own food allergies continued to worsen and I started eliminating corn and corn-derived foods from my diet, I had an experience at the dentist office that led me down a rabbit hole to find out just how many non-food products are made from or contain corn.
I went in for a routine dental cleaning. Within a few hours after my appointment, my lips started swelling and my mouth was covered in fever blisters. As I dug deeper, I found out that their gloves are powdered (usually with cornstarch), their bibs are powdered (usually with cornstarch), their floss is waxed with a corn-based wax, and their sterilizing chemicals are corn-derived.
So as you can see, it’s a little more difficult to stay away from corn than you’d think. Walls are made from corn, mattresses are made from corn, baking powder can contain cornstarch, MSG and “natural flavorings” can be corn-derived, the coloring in some cheeses can be made of cornstarch, and even tap water can contain citric acid (the kind made from corn) that is added to change the pH.
As I said, corn is in everything.
Minimizing/Eliminating Food Allergies
If you or someone in your family has food allergies, there are several ways you can minimize and even eliminate them for good. Most people are under the impression that if you have a true food allergy that there’s no way possible to get rid of that allergy, but that’s just not true. However, it is all that traditional medicine knows, so we accept it as fact.
My personal story is one such instance. My throat was swelling very frequently as a reaction to certain foods. Despite having allergy markers for other foods, we narrowed it down to corn because, as I stated above, corn is in almost everything. It was easy to remove rice, soy, peanut, coconut, sesame, and oats. But corn is in so many different forms that I couldn’t completely eliminate it from my life. But here I sit today without an epi-pen by my side and free of the anaphylaxis from this food.
So how did I go about minimizing and eliminating my food allergy?
1. Elimination diet to reduce triggers
I worked with a functional medicine doctor who ran tests, identified my food allergies, and put me on a strict elimination diet. We eliminated all processed foods as well as the gross forms of the 7 foods I was allergic to. Once we realized that I was still having reactions, we eliminated products that were derived from the foods I was allergic to.
While an elimination diet did not cure my food allergies, I believe that removing the triggers allowed for the initial step in healing. Removing foods that would constantly cause inflammation and immune responses allowed my body to slow down and move into a parasympathetic state when needed instead of constantly being in a fight-or-flight response.
This process took tons and tons of research and months of time. (If you’ve been diagnosed with a corn allergy, I highly recommend beginning your research at the Corn Allergy Girl website.)
2. Supplementation to help heal my gut
My functional medicine doctor also put me on an aggressive nutritional supplementation protocol. Supplements included things like quercetin, L-glutamine, vitamins and minerals, heavy-duty probiotics, and more. After all, my body was being deprived of the nutrients that it so badly needed to heal.
I have to say, I feel like the L-glutamine was the supplement that actually seemed to make the most difference in my gut. I still use a jar of the powder once every 6 months or so just as a maintenance plan to keep my gut health in check.
Homeopathy was the one thing that completed my healing. Though I still had episodes where my throat would swell during the elimination diet and use of proper supplements, homeopathic medicines stopped the reaction for good.
I’ve been under the care of a homeopath for 2.5 years now (for more than just my food allergies). We’ve used all sorts of medicines, but the ones that were instrumental in the initial stages of my treatment were Bovista, Calcarea Carbonicum, Natrum Sulphuricum, and Ignatia. Please don’t think these will be the same ones that could help in your situation, but I’m just giving you information about the ones that helped in mine.
Homeopathy is a form of medicine designed to stimulate the body’s own natural healing responses. This occurs when a person with an illness or condition is given a highly diluted substance that, when given in its gross form, causes similar symptoms to the illness or condition that person has. It’s similar to the current thought process of giving babies teeny tiny amounts of peanut butter over weeks and months so that they don’t end up with a peanut allergy later. The main difference is that homeopathy is diluted so much that there are only nano-particles of the original substance remaining.
As with any natural form of medicine, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eliminating food allergies. Both functional medicine and homeopathy will dig into your medical history, mental and emotional states, as well as your physical conditions to determine what forms of treatment would be the most beneficial in your circumstance.