Are You Suffering From Food Sensitivities?

 In General Health, Guelph Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic Food Sensitivity

Allergies, Food Sensitivities and Intolerances….What’s the Difference?

Food sensitivities are becoming an increasingly common issue among adults and children.  Although many people use the term “ food allergies” to describe all food reactions, sensitivities differ from food allergies.  Food Allergies are what people traditionally think of when they think of ‘allergies’.  These are immediate, fast and obvious reactions which are mediated by the immune system cells called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).  Ig E is a potent initiator of histamine release which causes symptoms of hives, wheezing and anaphylactic reactions.   IgE allergies are commonly diagnosed by skin scratch tests or blood tests which examines the bodies reactivity to certain allergens.  So if you have anaphylactic allergies or seasonal allergies, this is an IgE reaction leading to a histamine mediated response.

Food Sensitivities however, are mediated by another member of the immune system called Immunoglobulin G (IgG).  Unlike IgE reactions which are quick and immediate, IgG reactions are a delayed type reaction where symptoms may not show up for 2-3 days.  Think about it this way, if you had a big bowl of ice cream on Saturday night, you may not experience symptoms related to this indulgence until Monday.    Therefore, it can be tricky to identify cause and effect of certain foods as their symptoms may take a few days to manifest.  Have you ever thought there was something in your diet that was bothering you?  Maybe you even took the foods out for a few days but didn’t notice a difference?  Usually the issue is that the food wasn’t taken out for a long enough period of time because the symptoms can take days to show up!    Testing for IgG foods can be conducted by trial and error or can be conducted by blood tests that look at the 120-200 foods that may be causing the issues.

You may have also heard about Food Intolerances.  These issues also differ from IgE and IgG immune mediated responses.  Food intolerances vary and are differentiated based on their cause. For example,  auto-immune intolerances are commonly seen in celiac disease.  This intolerance initiates a potent inflammatory response in the gut to gluten which causes extreme bowel inflammation and digestive issues as the body starts attacking itself.  Another example is lactose intolerance.  This occurs in individuals with inadequate lactase enzymatic function.   Lactase is the key enzyme that breaks down lactose, the main sugar in milk.   If you are lactose intolerant, your body is unable to breakdown the lactose sugar resulting in loose stool and diarrhea.

Now that you know the difference between a food allergy, a food sensitivity and an intolerance, you can start to identify your key concerns.  You may be asking yourself, well how do I know?

How do You Know?

As outlined above, Delayed Type Hypersensitiveness or IgG reactions can be tricky to identify because it takes 2-3 days for symptoms manifest and symptoms are different from person to person.  However, the most common symptoms of food sensitivities are:

  • Digestive upset such as gas, bloating and cramping
  • Gastric Reflux or Heartburn
  • Food Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Eczema and Rashes
  • Constipation, Diarrhea,
  • Congestion and Chronic Sinus Infections
  • Constantly Being Sick
  • Headaches and Dizziness
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • ADHD and Autism
  • Mood Swings
  • Brain Fog
  • Joint Pain
  • Poor Sleep
  • Seasonal Allergies

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? Many people go through life assuming that these symptoms are just “normal”.  However constant exposure and consumption of food sensitivities in the diet will progressively worsen your digestive health and cause more and more symptoms to occur.  So let’s start working on making your belly happy and healthy.  Get my Beat The Bloat Checklist to start on your road to digestive freedom!  Stay tuned for my next post on What is Leaky Gut?

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