Foods And Adverse Health Effects

This article written by Dr. Johnson was originally published in Katy Trail Weekly.

“Peoples Pharmacy” had a recent article in The Dallas Morning News reporting that dietary intake may increase acne. This stimulated me to add additional information on foods and the potential adverse health effects.

The CDC has numerous articles and guidelines on Food Allergy and Digestive Allergy from foods. The most dramatic and life threatening are the anaphylactic shock reactions such as acute asthma, laryngeal edema, body swelling and hives.

Ninety percent of these reactions are produced by eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. The main treatment is avoidance and to be prepared to treat with Epinephrine injection and antihistamine with immediate transportation to the hospital for stabilization.

Food allergies link to other conditions. Individuals with this type of food allergy are two to four times more likely to have other allergic conditions like asthma, eczema and seasonal allergies. In this situation often tolerance can be developed over time to the seasonal allergies by using allergy shots called allergy immunotherapy. This is done thru skin testing by physicians to determine the item you are sensitive to and then preparing a specific formula for your treatment protocol. Tolerance to allergic items is achieved over time.

Digestive Allergy involves foods that trigger abdominal pain, swelling, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. Secondary effects of adverse food reactions may also include fatigue, less mental clarity (“brain fog,”) joint pain, rash and itching. The eight foods listed above may be the trigger or other commonly eaten foods such as corn, rice, garlic, onion, pepper and peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and all the grains that contain gluten. Elimination is again the treatment.

Figuring out which foods are causing you issues. Defining which foods are the trigger is often difficult. The quick onset reacts can generally be determined by skin tests or IgE blood tests. Delayed reactions are harder to be isolated.

One method is the “4 Day Rotation Diet” involving eating two to three foods per meal and not repeating any of the foods in the four-day time period. While doing this it is important to keep a diary of the foods eaten and how you feel recording the reactions. Reactions can be delayed by hours or extend into the next day. (There is help with this diet on the internet).

Celiac Disease is the absolute intolerance to gluten which is in all grains except corn and rice. Individuals with this Disease must strictly avoid all gluten containing foods to avoid the severe symptoms experienced by an exposure, severe abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea that may go on for days.

Other individuals may have gluten intolerance and experience milder symptoms of bloating, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, poor mental clarity, generalized aching, headache, rashes and swelling. Often these individuals have additional foods intolerances or allergies that make the job of getting relief difficult due to the many food variables.

Skin and blood testing for foods can help to define the specific foods. However, this testing often misses many reactive foods and it is necessary to use the “4 Day Rotation Diet” as a challenge method to define which foods for you are causing your symptoms. Then avoid those triggering foods for optimal health. For those individuals with many food allergies/intolerances staying on a rotation with avoidance is the best treatment.

Additional help for digestive allergies.

Help for individuals with Digestive Allergy is available through genetic testing, especially for gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. Enterolabs at offers a buccal swab test that will define your specific genetic makeup defining how you handle gluten. You acquire one set of genes from your mother and one set from your father. The combination of these two gene sets determines how your body will potentially handle ingested gluten, true celiac verses intolerance. With a physician’s guidance this can be a big help in how you regulate your diet for optimal health.

Dr. Alfred Johnson, D.O. is a physician practicing in Richardson, specializing in internal medicine, environmental medicine and chronic disease. For more information, visit