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Three years ago, Denise Savage began feeling sluggish and out of sorts.

Always vulnerable to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter, in which people experience varying degrees of depression or “sadness” because there are fewer daylight hours, Savage pretty much thought she was suffering an extreme case.

“I went to my doctor, who was also a holistic professional, and she asked if I had ever considered it might be food allergies,” Savage told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “I hadn’t thought about it, but I agreed to check it out.”

“It’s not the cure-all,” Savage said of her adjusted diet under a nutritionist’s care, “but it certainly helped.”

The diet largely consisted of going as organic as possible, avoiding or eliminating wheat and wheat-gluten products, caffeine, refined sugar and most dairy products. She ate steel-cut oats, brown rice and drank fiber shakes in the mornings.

Savage’s experience is not unusual, but is not common, either.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food allergy affects nearly 4 percent of adults and teens and 5 percent of children under the age of six years. A recent report by the CDC indicates that the number of people diagnosed with food allergy increased by 18 percent over the last decade, and this highlights the need to help those affected by this disease.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the lead institute at the National Institutes of Health for food allergy research, is commemorating Food Allergy Awareness Week from May 9 through 15. It was established in 1997 by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, a patient and family advocacy organization.

FAAN’s web site contains detailed information on various kinds of food allergies and recommended responses.

A food allergy is an immune system response that develops when the body treats an ingredient in food, often a protein, as harmful and creates a system to fight it, resulting in food allergy symptoms.

The most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans and almonds), fish and shellfish, milk, eggs, soy products and wheat. Food allergies can trigger severe reactions and can sometimes be fatal. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include a rash or hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchiness, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways to the lungs and anaphylaxis, a rapidly developing and severe allergic reaction that affects several areas of the body simultaneously.

The American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology suggests that  if you or someone close to you experiences hoarseness, throat tightness or a lump in the throat, wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing or tingling in the hands, feet, lips or scalp after eating, you should call 911 immediately.

Doctors say that children may outgrow some allergies, particularly to dairy, wheat and soy, but less so with eggs and nuts. And there is some indication that a simple blood test has led to a number of misdiagnosed allergies that have families needlessly avoiding certain foods and spending money on expensive food supplements.

The New York Times reported that blood tests may be unreliable because they don’t distinguish between similar proteins in different foods. So a child who tests positive for a peanut allergy may also test positive for allergies to soy, green beans, peas and kidney beans. Children with milk allergies may test positive for beef allergy.

If you believe you have a food allergy, the Academy recommends making an appointment with an allergist/immunologist – a doctor with special training to manage allergies and asthma to develop a treatment plan. The Academy’s Physician Referral Directory also can help you locate an allergist in your area.

 

Savage told BlackAmericaWeb.com that she followed the nutritionist’s plan …..

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