Allergies have been steadily increasing due to worsening diets, lack of activity, and limited contact to nature. These dietary changes were especially noticeable after World War II, and then again from the mid-1980s onward. Two things can cause an allergic reaction. First, poor diet and lifestyle activities that worsen our health. The second thing is taking the steps necessary to improve our health. Both of these things cause similar symptoms.
The only way to determine the significance of our symptoms is by observing the overall diet and lifestyle practices we follow. From the macrobiotic point of view, symptoms are how we adjust, maintain, and recover our health. One of the biggest problems is that symptoms have become synonymous with sickness or disease, which is not true. When you start to improve your diet and lifestyle, you often have symptoms, but those are simply the way your body is communicating that it is trying to clean and repair itself. For example, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and other things usually mean that you’re actually improving your health.
How Different Foods Impact Allergies
The base cause of food allergies is a combination of dairy and fructose. This combination is directly harmful to the lymphatic system, liver, and pancreas. Fried foods, eggs, poultry, shellfish, farmed fish, simple sugars, and iced drinks further contribute to the problem. There are three things that tend to make the symptoms of allergies more severe, or last longer than expected. Number one is salt, including miso, pickles, and seaweed. Number two is a lack of variety in your diet, or eating too simply. Number three is overcooking your food and not including enough light and refreshing dishes.
Good digestion depends on both prebiotics and probiotics. Examples of prebiotics are grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruits. Probiotics are from natural fermentations, which include pickles, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, umeboshi plums, salt cured olives, unyeasted sourdough bread, and brown rice or apple cider vinegar. Resistant starch, anything starchy that has been cooked and then cooled down, also acts as a prebiotic. The common point here is that everything in this list includes real food, not GMOs, overly-chemicalized, and processed or “fake” foods.
Why Food Allergies Have Become More Common
In the mid-1980s, the U.S. made a big shift from sugar to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because of how much cheaper it was to manufacture. As it turns out, this was also the beginning of the obesity epidemic and ties into the ever-increasing challenge of gluten sensitivity. In addition, highly-processed seed oils, as well as fried foods, have increased. So, as the ingredients and dishes that makeup a modern diet have continued to change towards these unhealthy options, food allergies have increased as well.
All healthy foods have very few ingredients that can very easily be identified. This includes things like brown rice, or even miso (soybeans, barley or rice, salt, and water). Unfortunately, that is not what we find in the supermarkets today. In fact, 70% of the food we consume is GMO or ultra-processed food that has completely changed our microbiomes, damaging the lining of our intestines. When our microbiome changes, we lose our ability to properly digest and process healthy foods as they begin to seem foreign. This is known commonly as “leaky-gut syndrome,” which further contributes to allergy and auto-immune problems.
When our inability to properly digest these foods occurs, we see increases in gluten intolerance and other related issues. The gluten grains, according to oriental medicine, stimulate and nourish the liver and gallbladder. That also helps to relax the pancreas. The connection between dairy, fried foods, and fructose, is that only the liver can process fructose. But every cell in our body runs on glucose. That’s why when HFCS replaced sugar, we saw a huge increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Then, on top of that, agave nectar, which can be 70-85% fructose, became prevalent in “natural food.” In addition, artificial sweeteners and stevia disrupt our gut bacteria.
What does this mean? It means that people with poor diets and lack of activity are at risk of developing food allergies. Also, people improving their diet and lifestyles tend to produce symptoms temporarily while recovering their health.
Remember, a healthy person can eat the world’s healthy foods (including gluten grains) without any problems. That ability comes from having a healthy gut, so managing your microbiome is the key to managing food allergies. For people experiencing gluten allergies, or gluten sensitivity, slowly reintroducing gluten into the diet will help to alleviate this problem overtime. For example, mixing barley or farro with rice would allow the body to relearn how to process these foods.