According to the orthodox medical sciences, allergies are divided into several groups according to severity as follows.
· An acute allergic reaction is a definite and immediate reaction of the body to some substance which has been ingested, inhaled, or to which the skin or blood has been exposed. Typical allergic reactions are vomiting, diarrhoea, shock, breathing difficulty, site-specific swelling, streaming eyes and nose. Such reactions are often due to a genetic flaw which has caused abnormal body chemistry, most commonly an incomplete complement of digestive enzymes in the GIT. Asthma and eczema fall into this category.
· Chronic or low level allergies result in symptoms such as blocked or runny nostrils (hayfever and sinusitis being the two most common), skin rashes, digestive imbalances such as indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation. Asthma and eczema also fall into this category.
· The lowest level of allergy is classified as intolerance or hypersensitivity, where the body exhibits non-specific symptoms of general malaise. The symptoms are sometimes so mild that it is difficult to accurately pinpoint the cause(s). Many intolerances of this level are caused by a build up of the offending substance in the person's body. Common substances believed to cause intolerance reactions are wheat products, dairy products, yeast, dust, peanuts, certain food additives and preservatives, refined sugars, animal hair, wool, chocolate, and eggs.
Use of the term "allergy" has become very common these days, to the point of misuse in fact. Whilst there is no doubt a small proportion of people suffer genuine allergies, and that this number is rapidly growing, many people who believe they have allergies of one sort of another are most likely suffering from a far more common situation - unhealthy living. Allergy testing and exclusionary diets have become trendy cure-alls for many people attempting to address problems of fluctuating life force, low level illness and, more and more commonly, behavioural problems in children. So many people I have I go round and round with different cutting-out-this-and-that diets, missing
the basic point - it's the whole of their life that needs examination!
Since children have such delicate digestive systems, it is no wonder that so many have difficulty dealing with processed foods at an early age. Chemically grown crops; denatured ingredients; all the additives and preservatives used in processing; wholly synthetic concoctions (I include formula milk here); all serve to imbalance the way in which a young child's body chemistry comes into being.
The keys to avoiding allergies and intolerances in children are:
· Breastfeed exclusively and for as long as possible
· Introduce solid foods slowly and thoughtfully
· Cook all your baby's food freshly - every day
· Reduce chemical usage in your household (including strong soaps and detergents)
· Don't overeat or force your baby to overeat
· Feed them a well-varied and balanced diet based on wholefoods and fresh produce. Personally, I recommend vegetarian, but if you feel you must introduce meat to your child, I strongly recommend organic and in very small quantities, and never before 12 months of age.
· Buy organic foods if you can find and afford them, or else grow as much of your own organically as you can. If you are unable to find organic, then endeavour to find local, and fresh and in season as you can.
· Avoid drinking town water. Use rainwater or spring water.
· Don't give children under 12 months of age any kind of processed foods. This includes packeted or tinned baby foods.
· Keep treats to an absolute minimum. Young children's stomachs don't need treats. They need the basics.
· Avoid all cold foods and excess dairy products (See "The Great Milk Myth", Chapter 8, page 549)
If a family follows all these guidelines for some months and a child still exhibits allergic or intolerant reactions, only then should the possibility of a more serious, underlying constitutional weakness be investigated.