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Food intolerance & Chemical Sensitivity - Eczema, Urticaria & Severe Acne

Thousands of patients - both adults and children - are enjoying healthy skin, free of irritations caused by foods to which they showed intolerance. Traditional medicine recognises food allergy if the result is an immediate skin rash. However when the reaction is delayed, as it often is (by up to five days!) in food intolerance, traditional doctors tend to ignore the possibility of food sensitivity as a cause of the skin problems. This is true despite success stories and many research studies by respected medical professionals.

"Early in my career I learned that careful dietary histories are important in treating patients and that ordinary, healthy foods can cause many problems, including skin conditions," says Dr. Gerrard, former professor of Paediatrics at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He has conducted a great deal of research on the topic. "It's a great disappointment that doctors just don't bother to consider food intolerance, because foods can be so helpful with so many different problems."

"Many controversies exist about the nature and importance of adverse reactions to food and chemical additives to human diseases, and the whole spectrum of symptoms that may appear are not delineated," explains Lene Hoj, a Danish doctor of internal medicine and specialist in allergic diseases." But my success in treating patients and my research in the area of food intolerance clearly shows that a long list of conditions and symptoms are related to food allergies including eczema and urticaria."

With regard to food allergy and skin conditions, Hoj explains that when allergy is the root of eczema and urticaria, the mast cells in the lower layers of the skin are believed to cause the problem. When they degranulate, the mediators that are released have a powerful effect on the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that lie all around them in the skin. These capillaries become leakier, allowing plasma (the watery part of the blood) to seep out into the skin itself. This produces the characteristic swellings and itchiness of urticaria, which is a skin disruption with temporary welts of various shapes and sizes with clear margins and pale centres.

Urticaria is often thought to be triggered by food, drugs, and stress. Sometimes it's triggered by cold. Where a great deal of seepage from the blood vessels occurs, the tissues below the skin may also become filled with watery fluid. This produces a puffiness that doctors describe as localized angioedema (or oedema), an abnormal pooling of fluid in the tissues.

Allergy testing is not just for severe skin conditions. Many people have had success at clearing up acne, especially as a side effect of eliminating intolerant foods for other medical conditions. There is no effective way to diagnose food intolerance for each person without individual testing. Guesswork alone will not help most people find out which foods, chemicals, and other substances they should not eat.

You'll find few traditional allergy doctors who would agree that delayed food reactions cause skin conditions. One of the problems in their lack of acceptance of this therapy is that many current research studies on food intolerance and skin conditions show just over 50 percent improvement which many do not believe is statistically significant. These studies may not show results as high as those of other studies on food intolerance and conditions such as migraine, fatigue, and weight loss. But 50 percent improvement does show nonetheless that food intolerance is clearly a viable therapy for at least half of the millions of people who suffer from painful skin irritations.

In several research studies on a food intolerance test, doctors found over 50 percent improvement in eczema, urticaria, angioedema, and general skin condition by eliminating specific food intolerance's. In their 1988 study on a food intolerance test, Drs. Fell and Brostoff (London) found that patients with eczema and urticaria who stuck to their food intolerance test results diets improved over a six-week period.

In a second study in 1990 on the effectiveness of a food intolerance test in treating four common patient complaints, Drs. Fell and Brostoff found that after one-year 26 patients (9 with urticaria and 17 with eczema) improved by an estimated 50 percent. The nine-urticaria patients showed a striking improvement two completely resolved and six maintained their success rate over the course of the 12 month study.

Consistent with this percentage, Dr. Barbara Solomon reported in 1992 that 11 patients with eczema improved by 55 percent when they eliminated their intolerant foods.

Further, Dr. Cabo-Soler, M.D., a medical faculty member and chief of the Biochemistry Department at the University of Valencia in Spain, noted that in addition to losing weight, patients also reported greater quality to their skin, more smoothness and less dryness and flaking.

In a one-month study on the relationship of food intolerance to weight loss, body composition, and self-reported disease symptoms conducted in 1995 at the Columbia/ HCA Medical Centre's Sports Medicine and Performance Centre in Houston, lead investigator Gilbert Kaats, Ph.D., found a much higher than 50 percent improvement in eczema symptoms after patients followed a diet that eliminated their intolerant foods. In fact, the individuals in the experimental group (50 participants) who had reported problems with eczema averaged a 66 percent improvement in their skin condition after following the diet.

On the other hand, those in the control group (50 individuals) who reported eczema problems said that their skin condition got about 33 percent worse after following diets of their own choosing. Interestingly, both groups reported nearly the same level of skin trouble at the beginning of study.

"While the individuals on a food intolerance test results diet consistently performed better than the control group in all disease-symptom categories, eczema was the only condition in which the control group actually reported worse symptoms while on diets of their own choosing." said Dr. Kaats, director of the Health and Medical Research Foundation, an independent research organization in San Antonio.

For the past several decades many researchers from around the world, all known for their special interest in atopic eczema, have independently described the value of food intolerance as a therapy for chronic skin conditions. Among them, Dr. Alfred Rowe in 1951 found a correlation between food allergies and atopic dermatitis in infants and children. In 1966, Dr. G. Hagerman examined the importance of food factors in atopic dermatitis. In 1978, Dr. P. Juto found a strict elimination diet effective in the treatment of infantile atopic eczema. Michael Pike, Research Fellow, Institute of Child Health, London, found a measurable improvement in skin problems using elimination diets. He said: "These data do provide evidence that, in at least some individuals with atopic eczema, ingestion of certain foods will provoke a reaction of some kind, be it eczematous or urticaria. We are often asked by skeptical [sic] colleagues, "Do you really believe all this 'food business'?" It remains one of the sadder aspects of mainstream medicine that we should see such an important problem as a question of "belief" or "non-belief." What is actually needed is an open, inquiring attitude, and careful, critical investigation. By failing to study the relationship between foods and atopic eczema, we might deny ourselves the opportunity of understanding and thus eventually overcoming this common and distressing disease.

Medical experts who recognise food intolerance believe in this therapy as an effective option for many skin condition sufferers.

"There is growing evidence that what goes into the mouth can produce a reaction in the skin, and that food is an important factor." says Dr. Brostoff.

Dr. Stephen Schimpf, the preventive medicine and immunotherapy doctor who treated Austria's Olympic skiers, said that by eliminating intolerant foods, in accordance with test results, one patient with severe psoriasis was cured of all his allergic-like symptoms including severe itching and skin so hot at night that he couldn't sleep.

"Now he's able to get a good night's sleep. We've seen many patients' allergic-like symptoms go away when they eliminate their allergenic foods."

No discussion of fat or overweight would be complete without some reference to cellulite. So poorly understood, and yet so hated, cellulite is the result of modem lifestyles to a great extent. According to Dr. Elizabeth Dancey in her book The Cellulite Solution, 95% of women have or believe they have cellulite.

It is hard to believe that there is as yet no known cure for a condition that affects such a large segment of the population. Since no established medical treatment protocol exists, most physicians avoid treating cellulite.

Cellulite is found only in fatty tissue. But one does not have to be overweight to have cellulite. Cellulite in women most frequently appears on the hips, buttocks, and thighs. Men will tend to develop cellulite on the upper body.

Fat storage in the body is controlled by special receptors in each fat cell. These receptors are called alpha2 receptors. Various hormones may stimulate alpha2 receptors and open the doors into the fat cell to allow the deposit of more fat into the cell. The most prominent of these hormones is insulin. Insulin in the blood encourages more fat to be deposited into storage.

On the other hand beta-receptors open the figurative back door of the fat cells to allow fat out into the bloodstream. Hormones that stimulate the beta-receptors are thyroxin and adrenaline.

As Dr. Dancey poignantly points out in her book, "not all fat is created equal".

In women the fat cells around the hips, thighs, and buttocks have six times as many alpha2 receptors as beta-receptors. This implies that fat can be stored six times as fast as it can be released from these areas. Many women will attest to this truth. Elsewhere in the body there are six times as many beta-receptors as alpha2 receptors. This means fat will be lost six times as fast from these areas. Therefore, physiologically, if fat is to be gained, it will most likely show in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. And when fat is lost, it will come from the upper body in most women. This is truly the worst of both worlds and explains a lot. No matter the reason for the weight gain, the overweight will appear on the hips, thighs, and buttocks of most women and on the upper body on men.

Most important to the issues discussed is the high incidence of cellulite in individuals with food intolerance. It seems that food intolerance and its resultant fluid retention, caused by immune-mediated damage to blood vessels, may be a significant contributor to the appearance of cellulite. Those who successfully identify and treat food intolerance may notice an improvement in cellulite. Likewise, quite often those with cellulite may suspect food intolerance. Cellulite may be prevented by the prompt elimination of food intolerance, improvement of lymphatic drainage, and the regeneration of blood supply to these areas of compromised blood supply.

Cellulite actually describes fatty tissue in various stages of development. The word cellulite refers to the dimpling appearance of the skin associated with the more advanced stages of change in the subcutaneous fat. Although areas of advanced and long-standing fatty deterioration may be irreparable, much cellulite is actually tissue in a dynamic state of evolution. The latter is amenable to revitalization.

Treatment of cellulite begins with the reversal of adverse physiological changes that predispose to the deterioration of subcutaneous fat. Once the evolution of cellulite is halted, attention may turn to the reversal of body physiology that sustains existing cellulitic tissue.

Remember that fatty tissue by its nature and purpose is in a continual state of active change. Successful control of the appearance of cellulite will require ongoing attention to avoiding the negative lifestyle factors that predispose cellulite.

A thorough cellulite treatment program will include identification and elimination of food intolerance. Until intolerant foods are eliminated, any improvement in cellulite appearance will be temporary, as cellulite will continue to develop due to deterioration of the circulation in these fatty areas. Once the food sensitivities are eliminated, special efforts to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage in these areas may proceed. The most effective maintenance of healthy tissue appearance is achieved through healthy eating habits.

Cellulite may be viewed as a continuation of the effects of food intolerance. As we have established, food intolerance can make you fat. Now we understand that food intolerance, if not eliminated, will make existing fat deposits even more unsightly. Find out and eliminate your reactive foods.

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