"Woman with allergies sneezing"By Dr. Julie Chen

When we talk about allergies, most of us think about environmental or seasonal allergies. But, food allergies can wreak as much havoc, if not more so, on our body and thus require some attention as well.

For those of you who are already aware that you have seasonal allergies, it may be worthwhile to also ask your allergist for food allergy testing. When you are sensitive or allergic to certain foods, your body similarly reacts with inflammation as it would with environmental allergens…and over long term, this is not beneficial to your health.

Acute inflammation is necessary for our survival. When we are injured, we need to inflame and heal; just like when our cuts get red and heal over. However, chronic inflammation causes more trouble than good for our overall health. Even for heart disease, the more inflamed and unstable artery plaques are the ones that are more concerning for breaking off and causing a heart attack. So, whatever we can do to decrease chronic inflammation in our body, the better.

Therefore, if you are constantly consuming a certain food that you are in actuality allergic or sensitive to, this would be an ongoing trigger in your body for inflammation…and that would not be good for your overall health in the long run.

I’ll share an example of a patient I work with in regards to food allergens and its potential impact on health. I have a patient who I had been seeing for a few months and we had been working on changing her diet around to a healthier, more anti-inflammatory diet. She was feeling slightly better and was losing a few pounds every month since she was eating healthier. But she was still feeling fatigued and her autoimmune disease was still mildly flaring with pain in her joints. We decided to do food allergy testing and found that she had a moderate level of sensitivity to nuts.

She had been snacking on nuts since she thought it was a good anti-inflammatory alternative for snacking when she was hungry. For most people, it would be a good snacking option in controlled portions, however for her food sensitivity, it actually worked against her. After about two to three weeks off of nuts, she felt less fatigued and her joint pains were significantly improved.

This is a good example of how even healthy foods can unbeknownst to us be causing harm if we are not diligent in checking for factors that inflame us on a daily basis. So, for this upcoming spring season, the allergens you should be paying attention to aren’t just in your environment…but might be on your plate as well.


Dr. Julie T. Chen, M.D. an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, CA, is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of websites as well as non-profit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, TV, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates many types of healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more about Dr. Julie, you can check out her website at www.makinghealthyez.com.