Are Food Allergies Causing Your Depression? Beware of the “healthy” foods that can bite you back
While most of us know that processed foods, bad fats and sugar are a recipe for poor health, we don’t consider that “healthy” foods like whole grains, legumes, dairy, eggs and even fruits and veggies can cause problems.
But they do. And their effects go beyond the digestive system… and into the brain.
Do You Have a Food Allergy… or a “Brain Allergy”?
In fact, “brain allergies” have been found to cause a wide range of mood disorders including insomnia and sleep disorders, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, aggression, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity (ADHD), schizophrenia, psychotic episodes, and bipolar disorder1,3.
Dr. Abram Hoffer, M.D., believes that depression and allergy are inextricably linked:
“When one is relieved, so is the other. Treatment of the allergy will, in most cases, ‘cure’ the depression. I have seen this in several hundred patients over the past six years and can no longer doubt this conclusion”.
And research proves it too:
- Bipolar Disorder: A recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins published in Bipolar Disorders evaluated the effects of cow’s milk protein (casein) on patients with bipolar disorder. The researchers found that all patients with bipolar disorder had significantly elevated antibodies to casein (anti-casein IgG) compared to the control group2
- Depression: A study published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry evaluated 30 patients suffering from anxiety, depression, confusion or difficulty in concentration. The results found that allergies alone were able to produce the following symptoms: severe depression, nervousness, feeling of anger without a particular object, loss of motivation and severe mental blankness. The foods and chemicals that produced most severe mental reactions were wheat, milk, cane sugar, tobacco smoke and eggs3.
- Schizophrenia: Dr William Philpott found that 92% of schizophrenia patients reacted to foods as follows: 64% reacted to wheat, 50% to cow’s milk, 75% to tobacco and 30% to petrochemical hydrocarbons. The symptoms ranged from dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, depression, tension, hyperactivity and speech difficulties to psychotic symptoms4
But how can foods that seem so wholesome cause such serious and harmful effects?Inflammation.
Mend Your Mood By Sealing Your “Leaky Gut”
Brain allergies develop when the delicate, epithelial lining of the intestinal tract becomes damaged.
And in our modern world, it is all too easy to do.
The Standard American Diet, antibiotic use, over the counter and prescription drugs, chemical exposure, Candida overgrowth, GMOs, hormones and other substances, nutrient deficiencies, stress can all make micro-tears in the intestines. (Learn how to heal your leaky gut here)
And when they do, food particles come into direct contact with the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue) that lies under the one-cell layer thick intestinal epithelium.
Because the GALT comprises 70% of your immune system, these particles are seen as invaders. And the immune system becomes activated.
At the same time, gut bacteria and food particles squeeze through the gaps in the damaged intestinal lining and travel through the bloodstream.
Seeing these substances as foreign invaders, the body releases inflammatory factors called cytokines. Then the brain’s immune cells (called microglia) launch into action, firing onslaught of more of the same.
These cytokines trigger a cascade of hormones and factors that change neurotransmitter levels and, in turn, cause the symptoms of depression5-10. In fact, many anti-depressant drugs “work” by inhibiting cytokines13.
But there’s another way that food particles trigger depression. Addiction.
The Allergy-Addiction Cycle: Why Pizza Is a Lot Like Heroine
It’s no coincidence that foods like bread, pizza, casseroles and cookies are considered “comfort foods”. In fact, these foods have a lot more in common with mind-numbing drugs like heroine than you might think.
When broken down, wheat and milk are fragmented into odd little proteins called gluteomorphins and caseomorphins, respectively.
As name implies, these compounds are chemically similar to opium – the substance from which morphine and heroine are derived. And just like their illegal counterparts, wheat and milk affect the morphine receptors in the brain, changing function and behavior while creating intense cravings that rival drug addiction.
And the only option for relief is to break the cycle.
Avoiding the Common Brain Allergens
While wheat and milk are the most prevalent and damaging brain allergens, many common foods and substances can trigger brain allergies including:
* Wheat /gluten/gliadin
* Dairy /casein
* Colorings, flavorings, MSG, additives (and other excitotoxins)
The good news is that many people have been able to eliminate depression simply by removing these common dietary “brain” allergens.
And Healing Gourmet makes it easy for you! We have 800+ gluten free recipes and 600+ gluten free dairy free recipes – including delicious allergen-free desserts and comfort foods like pot pies, pizza and more. PLUS you can create a personalized Delicious Solutions meal plan that suits all of your health needs including allergies, weight goals, taste preferences and more!
So how do you know which allergens are affecting you? A simple way to find out is to remove all common allergens for two weeks, and take note of how you feel every day. Is your energy increasing? Are you sleeping better? Does life seem a little brighter? Then “challenge” each food individually.
An easier and better way is to get a full, comprehensive food allergy and intolerance panel (like those offered by ALCAT or ALATESS) from your holistic doctor.
Remember, there is no one size-fits-all diet. And there is typically no single cause for any disease. Blood sugar imbalances, adrenal gland dysfunction, thyroid and sex hormone imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies (especially omega-3 and vitamin D) also contribute to depression.
You don’t have go through life feeling depressed. Get on the road to recovery today!
- 1. Hunter, JO. 1991 Food allergy – or enterometabolic disorder? Lancet 338(8765):495-96
- 2. Severance EG, Dupont D, Dickerson FB, Stallings CR, Origoni AE, Krivogorsky B, Yang S, Haasnoot W, Yolken RH. Immune activation by casein dietary antigens in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disord. 2010 Dec;12(8):834-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2010.00879.x.
- 3. King DS. Can allergic exposure provoke psychological symptoms? A double-blind test. Biol Psychiatry 1981;16:3–19.
- 4. W. Philpott and D. Kalita, Brain Allergies, Keats Publishing (1980)
- 5. Brown M, Gibney M, Husband PR, Radcliffe M. Food allergy in polysymptomatic patients. Practitioner 1981;225:1651–4.
- 6. Bellanti JA, Sabra A, Castro HJ, Chavez JR, Malka-Rais J, de Inocencio JM. Are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome allergy related? what is fibromyalgia? Allergy Asthma Proc. 2005 Jan-Feb;26(1):19-28.
- 7. Faith Dickerson, Cassie Stallings, Andrea Origoni, et al. Markers of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders Volume 13, Issue 1, pages 52–58, February 2011
- 8. O’Brien SM, Scott LV, Dinan TG. Cytokines: abnormalities in major depression and implications for pharmacological treatment. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Aug;19(6):397-403.
- 9. Castanon N, Leonard BE, Neveu PJ, Yirmiya R. Effects of antidepressants on cytokine production and actions. Brain Behav Immun. 2002 Oct;16(5):569-74.
- 10. Anisman, H, Z. Merali. 2003. Cytokines, stress and depressive illness: Brain immune interactions. Ann Med. 35:2-11
- 11. Banks, WA. SA Farr, JE Morely. 2002-2003. Entry of blood-borne cytokines into the central nervous system: Effects on cognitive processes. Neuroimmunomodulation 10:319-27
- 12. Carlson, SL et al. 1987. Alterations of monoamines in specific cental autonomic nuclei following immunization in mice
- 13. Sadayuki Hashioka, Patrick L. McGeer, Akira Monji, and Shigenobu Kanba. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Antidepressants: Possibilities for Preventives Against Alzheimer’s Disease. Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, 2009, 9, 12-19