Everyone has something that will trigger an unfriendly tummy or reaction! When people think of food allergy and sensitivity, they immediately relate it to the deadly peanut allergy! 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!
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.
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 were 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. Both vaginal birth and breastfeeding help pass on good bacteria to your growing child, and when 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:
There are also many other foods that people can be allergic to. Your naturopathic doctor can perform a lab test on you that will determine your allergies for hundreds of kind of foods!
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.
Eating these foods regularly can cause low-grade inflammation, which causes many of the symptoms listed.
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.
Food sensitivity testing is the other way that offending foods are identified. This is a simple blood test that looks at least 96 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.