Which is it? Food Allergy, Sensitivity, or Intolerance…

Food can make us crazy, literally. Each individual can react to foods very differently. While we may do great with some foods, others can cause a food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance. So, how do we know?

Most traditional providers and allergists only check for allergies. Allergy to food causes the immune system to release an immunoglobulin called IgE. When you think of peanut allergy, for example, most of us understand that on airplanes and in schools, an allergy to something like exposure to peanuts can be deadly. An IgE reaction is a true allergy. Symptoms of food allergy include hives, swelling, itching, anaphylaxis, and dizziness.

However, many people suffer from food sensitivity. Food sensitivity can be very damaging to our bodies, although it can be difficult for someone to make the connection with specific food to unwanted symptoms. This is because it can take up to 3 days for the effects of a food sensitivity to occur. Food sensitivity triggers an immune reaction to the specific food. Food sensitivity reactions are often mediated by an immunoglobulin called IgG or another non-IgE immune reaction. Symptoms of food sensitivity vary widely and may or may not be gut-related. Examples may include:

  • Migraines
  • Joint Pain
  • Acne
  • Bloating
  • Congestion
  • Swelling
  • Diarrhea
Food sensitivities can show up with different signs and symptoms.

Food sensitivities result in inflammation and can contribute to the development of disease and autoimmune disease. They are often associated with IBD, ADD, ADHD, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other conditions.

Food intolerances, however, are different than either allergy or sensitivity. Intolerances are that the body is actually not able to digest or process a certain food because of lacking certain enzymes. Lactose intolerance is a common example. Most people know when they have food intolerances, as the effect is pretty close to after eating the food that they are intolerant to. The immune system actually is not activated by food intolerance. Food intolerances result in gut symptoms such as:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Nausea

So, while this is a basic description of the differences between types of food reactions, hopefully, this makes you more aware of how often people and even health care providers may confuse true allergy with all 3 terms and how allergy testing is done by your traditional provider is often limited in that it only identifies true allergies.

While people can choose various self-testing for food sensitivities, it is important to know that many are not very accurate and that there are a variety of blood tests out there. As an FDN-P, I have access to specialized patented testing, called the MRT test. This blood test looks at how your white blood cells respond to 170 foods/substances and is one of the best tests out there for food sensitivities.

It is important to not only test for food sensitivity but to understand why food sensitivity may be occurring. So, when I test for food sensitivity, I also look at how the gut is working and if there are issues with leaky gut or gut pathogens (aka gut bugs). I also look at how the body is responding to stress, as stress in itself can cause a leaky gut and ultimately result in the development of food sensitivities. You can learn more about the tests included in my coaching packages here.

Based on lab results, I recommend a 90-day protocol that removes the foods your body negatively reacts to as well as eliminates gluten, sugar, and dairy for that period. After the gut is healed, with an elimination diet from these foods, some of the foods may be able to be added back into the diet through a specific protocol.

The important points to remember include:

  • Food can cause different types of reactions. Two are immune reactions and one is a digestive related issue.
  • Food sensitivities can cause a variety of symptoms, and often symptoms may not be related to the gut.
  • Just testing for food sensitivity alone is not enough.
  • Food sensitivities can be reversed through protocols to heal the gut provided by an experienced practitioner.

With specialized testing, I was able to identify my food sensitivities and opportunities to more specifically heal my gut and address my autoimmune issues related to gluten sensitivity. If you would like to find out more about food sensitivities and testing available to you, please fill out the form by clicking the button below for a free discovery call.

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