Food sensitivities, once extremely hard to diagnose, are now becoming better understood and treatable, thanks to highly advanced testing. The main difference between a food allergy and sensitivity is your body’s response. While allergic reactions to foods tend to be fairly obvious and trigger an immediate immune system response, food sensitivities can be more subtle--and lead to seemingly unrelated symptoms that appear days later. If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, the reaction starts in your digestive system or gut. Food sensitivities are less serious yet far more common than food allergies, but much harder to diagnose.
Reasons for Food Allergies
You may be sensitive or intolerant to a food for a number of reasons:
- your gut does not have the right enzymes to digest that food
- you may be reacting to food additives or artificial ingredients
- you could have a reaction to the pesticides used on that food
- you may have a sensitivity to caffeine or other chemicals found in the food
- you could be reacting to the toxins naturally found in certain legumes
The Increasing Risk of Food Allergies
Many people have mild food allergies, but they often find out through exposure to the offending antigen. An allergic reaction to a food involves an immune system response that starts with a protein molecule made by the body, called an antibody, which helps battle viruses, bacteria and foreign offenders. The symptoms of an allergic reaction result from the body’s immune system fight to remove the antigen.
Food allergens can come into the body by one route but cause symptoms elsewhere in the body because they travel in the bloodstream. Since this connection between food and symptoms isn’t always obvious, proving immune system involvement with a particular food usually requires a blood panel test. This test is very important, because food allergies can be very dangerous and even fatal.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
Typical symptoms of a food allergic reaction include:
- Sinus congestion and runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
- Abdominal pain
Food Sensitivities: Get to the Root of the Problem
More and more patients are coming to me with unexplained or hard-to-diagnose symptoms, and they are often surprised to find out that a food sensitivity is the culprit. Once you identify and remove reactionary foods from your diet, your body is able to resume normal function and operate at peak performance. There is also a prevalent condition called "leaky gut", which means you have intestinal permeability. A patient with leaky gut will generally have sensitivities to a wide range of foods, until they are able to heal their intestinal wall. Food sensitivity testing can tell you which specific foods you are reacting to so you can adjust your diet accordingly, as well as help diagnose leaky gut.
Aside from inflammation here are some additional symptoms you may experience if you have an underlying food sensitivity:
- Migraine headaches
- Irritable bowels
- Weight gain
- Brain Fog or Impaired Cognitive Function
- Feelings of fatigue and/or sluggishness
How to Test for IgE Food Allergies and IgG Food Sensitivities
IgE Food and Inhalant Allergy Testing
IgE antibodies are found in large concentrations in the body’s mucous membranes, skin and lungs. When they are activated, they can cause severe reactions that take place almost instantly when a food-based antigen is encountered. When testing reveals an IgE reaction, the food causing the reaction should be completely removed from the diet and only slowly re-introduced later under a doctor's supervision and upon further testing. IgE testing can also reveal allergies to airborne irritants and inhalants such as dust, pollen, mold or pet dander.
IgG Food Sensitivity Testing
IgG antibodies attach themselves to the food antigen, creating a complex the body must quickly flush out using specialized macrophage cells. If moderate or large amounts of the antigen are consumed, possible inflammation will occur causing chemicals to release as the antibody-antigen complex infiltrates the body’s tissues. Testing for IgG sensitivities helps determine what foods should be eliminated from your diet for optimal gut health and total body wellness.
Because the reaction associated with IgG is delayed, a blood panel test is the most effective way to learn which foods, if any, you may be sensitive to. Based on the test results, your diet can then be optimized. This test takes 8-10 days, and can be repeated every six months if desired. With food sensitivities, you can usually slowly reintroduce the foods back into your diet once your gut has healed and the proper digestive enzymes have been restored.
At the biostation, we offer several highly specialized yet easy and convenient allergy tests which we can customize for you based on your symptoms, medical history and needs – as well as other services to help you achieve optimal gut health and total-body wellness. All of our testing is overseen by our experienced medical team which includes food testing and nutrition experts. To learn more about these advanced and informative tests and which ones may be right for you, contact us today for a personal consultation.