When people think of a food allergy and sensitivity, they immediately relate it to the deadly peanut allergy. Everyone has something that will trigger an unfriendly tummy or reaction! Most schools are now peanut-free because this allergy can be so severe that even being in the same room with a peanut-based food can trigger someone’s symptoms. In the case of peanuts, the reaction can be deadly, but not all allergies are like this. Food allergies and sensitivities exist on a ranging spectrum, and you may not even know you have them, but finding out if you do can be the best treatment and prevention you can get! Fortunately, we have access to special lab tests commonly known as Food Allergy Testing that allows us to identify hidden food allergies.
To be clear food allergies and food sensitivities are not the same thing! Below we discuss the differences between the two and what kind of healthy results you can expect from identifying and removing these foods from your diet.
What are Food Allergies?
Food allergies are diagnosed when someone has severe reactions to particular foods, even in very tiny amounts. The allergies often trigger a person’s airway where swelling up and breathing becomes difficult. This is a medical emergency and calling 911 can save their life!
These kinds of allergies are mediated by an antibody known as IgE, which is a protein found inside white blood cells in your body. When small amounts of an allergenic substance are encountered, IgE causes a release of histamine. An allergy is like an overreaction by your immune system, which is trying to protect you but not completely knowing what to do. Other symptoms of an IgE-mediated allergy include itchy eyes, runny nose, hives, itchy or scratchy throat, rashes, asthma, and eczema.
Most food allergies develop in childhood. Kids that were born vaginally have fewer allergies, and so do kids who breastfeed for longer. Both vaginal birth and breastfeeding help pass on good bacteria to your growing child, and then both the mother and the child have a healthy population of good bacteria, allergy risk goes down.
The most common allergies are to the following foods:
- Tree nuts
There are also many other foods that people can be allergic to. Your naturopathic doctor can perform food allergy testing with you that will determine your allergies for hundreds of kind of foods!
New research is showing that IgE medicated food allergies do not always show up as an anaphylactic response. The immune system has been found to respond with an IgE response and only produce mild symptoms that are not life threatening. This is why we use food allergy testing that includes testing for IgE mediated food allergies.
What are Food Sensitivities?
Food sensitivities are not as apparent as true allergies. People know when they’re deathly allergic to something, but not everyone knows the foods they are sensitive to. A different antibody mediates food sensitivities from your immune system, called IgG.
The reactions that are produced in the body as a result of IgG-mediated responses are less obvious too.
- Headaches or foggy-headedness
- Inability to lose weight
- Depression and anxiety
- Muscle pain or joint pain
- Immune system dysfunction
- Gas and bloating or other digestive disturbances
- Skin conditions
Regularly eating these foods regularly can cause low-grade inflammation, which causes many of the symptoms listed. The foods that cause a delayed IgG food sensitivity is what food allergy testing helps us to identify.
How Do I Find Out if I have Food Sensitivities?
There are two ways to identify what foods you are sensitive to. The gold standard is an elimination diet: most of the foods that people are sensitive to are the same ones people are allergic to, listed above. With an elimination diet, you remove all of these foods from your diet, in addition to food dyes, preservatives, and refined sugar, over a period of 2-4 weeks. Then, the foods are reintroduced one at a time and symptoms are monitored, just to play things safe.
Elimination diets can produce incredible benefits like weight loss and resolution of physical symptoms. They are challenging, and it takes a high level of dedication to do them well, and the rewards are well worth it.
How Food Allergy Testing Can Help
Food allergy testing is the other way that offending foods are identified. This is a simple blood test that looks at least 95 common foods to see which ones your body is reacting to. Patients love the simplicity of the test, and you get to see a printout graph of which foods you should be avoiding. Then, a diet protocol can be designed to help heal your gut and resolve your symptoms.
Food is an essential part of life and no one wants to miss out on the ones they love! Book an appointment today and learn more!