Did you know 30% of the population is affected by food allergies and sensitivities? That is why everyone is jumping on the gluten free bandwagon. Read below to understand food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerances as they are all different and affect people in different ways. We will also discuss what symptoms are big clues that you have a food allergy or food sensitivity.
Symptoms that suggest reactive to food
Suspect that you may have a food sensitivity/ allergy especially when symptoms are CHRONIC and FREQUENT, evidence of an active inflammatory process is present, and there is excess mucus production.
Symptoms and conditions that suggest a food allergy or sensitivity:
Chronic sinus headache
Chronic ear aches
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Autism spectrum disorders
A food allergy is an immune mediated response to eating a certain food that produces symptoms pretty quickly after ingesting. Occurring usually within a minute to about an hour, this type of reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock. This response is caused by our IgE immune complex.
A food sensitivity is also immune mediated response. However, the difference between sensitivity and an allergy is that the reaction may not occur for up to 96 hours after having ingested the food. This is why food sensitivities are very hard to detect. The other difference is that food sensitivities are not caused by IgE. They are caused by IgG and other immune system mediators like cytokines, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, interleukins, histamine, etc.
A food intolerance is completely different from sensitivities and allergies in that they are non-immune mediated. Meaning, they are caused by something else altogether. Intolerances include lactose intolerance, Celiac’s disease (gluten intolerance), and bile salt deficiencies.
Identifying food allergies and sensitivities
Because food allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance are so different, they require different testing for each one. A food allergy test should test specifically for IgE. A food sensitivity test will test for IgG and other immune system mediators. An intolerance test will be specific for each suspected food intolerance.
Another way to identify the above without testing is to complete an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a way of eating in order to eliminate all common allergens for several weeks. This will eliminate any food related symptoms, give the body a chance to heal, and gives a baseline of how you are feeling. After your symptoms improve, foods will be slowly added back into the diet in order to determine which foods are causing what symptoms.
Please make an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor if you think you may be reacting to your food.