I Can’t Breathe – Looking into the Alpha-Gal connection between red meat and Lyme Disease

I know when I was in my youth, I struggled heavily with lactose intolerance. I would still push the limits here and there (peppermint ice cream was a MUST at Christmas!) but I could just take an enzyme pill and move about my day.

You can only imagine my shock when I was at In-n-Out one evening (the West Coast’s equivalent to the best burger…ever) and suddenly couldn’t breathe. Not like the coughing over inhaled water type, but the instant panic, throat closing, turning blue type.

I tried to calm down and my friends wrote it off as an anxiety attack until it got worse and I had to take medication.

It wasn’t until the next day that I saw on the news – “Mysterious allergy to red meat linked to tick bites.” I was shocked. But what had happened to me was actually not that uncommon at all. And here’s why.

According to the ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) it is attributed to “A bite from the Lone Star tick… (can) cause people to develop an allergy to red meat, including beef and pork. This specific allergy is related to a carbohydrate called alpha-gal and is best diagnosed with a blood test. Although reactions to foods typically occur immediately, in the instance of allergic reactions to alpha-gal, symptoms often take several hours to develop.” (www.acaai.org)

I do want to call attention to something crucial – a building anaphylactic shock in response to the alpha-gal carb being present in the blood can take hours to fully effect you.

This can be managed with doctor oversight, an epi-pen for those who need it, and antihistamines if you catch it in time. But, this allergy is a major sign of Lyme Disease being present in the body. Other symptoms to be made aware of are nausea, vomiting, rash, hives, fevers, and anaphylactic shock.  

It is not just red meat that can cause this type of response in people with Lyme Disease, histamine overload, or mast cell activation issues. Any and all foods have potential to cause major issues in people with inflammation/mast cell disorders and it is important to be cautious with any diet changes. Lyme has been linked to causing general inflammation disorders including mast cell in its wake.

If you experience any of these issues when eating red meat, run, do not walk, to get tested. You may still have time to catch the infection before you become chronic.


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