High Blood Pressure from Food Allergies
Sometimes a person who shows no pre-disposition (not overweight, happy demeanor, not sad or depressed) to suffering from high blood pressure will become hypertensive.
This can be due to allergies to certain foods, intolerances, and sensitivity to chemicals.
Food allergies normally start inside the small intestine, this is the part of the digestive system is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. The immune system stops food substances it doesn’t like from entering into the body.
If a substance the body doesn’t like enters through the small intestine, the immune system will release antibodies that attach themselves to the substance and destroy it. The process of removing the foreign substance causes the release of chemicals like histamine, it is histamine that causes the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of food allergies include itching, rashes, hives, bloating, wind, sickness and elevated blood pressure levels.
Different individuals may react to different foods at different rates, some reactions are instant while others can take hours, even days before symptoms start to manifest themselves. A delayed reaction can make it very difficult to pinpoint the cause of the allergy.
Common Foods that Cause Allergic Reactions
Gluten – Gluten is a type of protein that is mainly found in grains and cereals like wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt. People can be sensitive to gluten because of coeliacs disease, many people with a gluten allergy are so used to experiencing mild symptoms that they rarely consider glutenous foods to be a problem.
Glutenous foods are also mildly addictive, causing even those who are allergic to crave them.
Legumes – Peanuts, Lentils, Chickpeas, Soy Beans and Peas are all legumes. Peanuts are well known for causing allergic reaction that can send blood pressure sky high, cause anaphylaxis and even death. This reaction is caused by specific protein found in legumes. Like gluten, legumes can cause milder reactions that are just accepted as normal by people who are sensitive to those foods.
Fish and Shellfish – These foods contain a protein similar to the one found in legumes, certain fish, especially crustaceans have been known to cause fatal reactions.
Food Intolerance and Chemical Sensitivity
As well as allergic reactions people also suffer food intolerances and chemical sensitivity.
Intolerances occur when the immune system does not react to a particular food but allergy related symptoms are still suffered. An intolerance to cow’s milk is very common. This occurs because the digestive system doesn’t have enough of a particular enzyme to digest the lactose in the milk, this excess of lactose in the body can cause allergy like symptoms.
Many people who suffer from food allergies and intolerances also suffer from chemical sensitivity. Many different types of chemicals are added to foods to add flavor, preserve, color and thicken.
Common chemical additives that cause allergy symptoms are:
Tartrazine – This used to add a yellow color to foods
Monosodium Glutamate – Often abbreviated to MSG, this additive is famous for its use in chinese food. It can cause an increase in heart rate and a rise in blood pressure.
Identifying Foods that may be Causing High Blood Pressure
If you are suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension and there appears to be no underlying cause, try restricting certain foods from your diet or see if there is any change in blood pressure levels.
Remove certain types of foods one at at time for a period of a week or so. If after this period of time there is no change in your blood pressure, discount the particular food and try removing something else.
The best place to start is to restrict gluten from your diet. This can be hard at first a gluten is present in so many of the foods commonly available in western societies.
Things like bread, pasta, rice and cereal all contain gluten. Luckily all of these products can be purchased from health food stores in gluten free from.
Wheat is another substance that can sometimes cause high blood pressure, wheat free bread and pasta are available from most large supermarkets.
Substitute cows milk for a lower lactose alternative like goats milk. Do not be tempted to drink soy milk as this contains allergens that a lot of people react to.
Get an Allergy Test
You may also want to consider an allergy test. This involves a sample of blood being taken and subjected to different tests in a laboratory. Hundreds of substances will be screened against the blood sample to see what induces an allergic reaction. A full report is then produced showing which foods you mildly to strongly allergic to.
If you have been struggling with the cause of your high blood pressure, it is worth investigating whether the food you eat is responsible.