What Is Food Sensitivity?
Recent studies have found that approximately 15-20% of adults experience food sensitivities or allergies. Of these only a small percentage are in fact severe allergies (anaphylactic reactions) mediated by Immunoglobulin type E (IgE). Most common are food intolerances mediated by the Immunoglobulin type G (IgG) characterized by the delayed response food reactions.
As a Functional Nutritional Therapist, I focus on good nutrition as a baseline of health; therefore I consider identifying food sensitivities as a key step in helping clients to get better. My personal and clinical experience, as well as, feedback from other practitioners confirm that incidence of food sensitivity is on the rise due to a number of factors.
These include microbiome imbalances, having a leaky gut syndrome, impaired digestion (low stomach acid and digestive enzymes), food contamination with chemicals and pesticides (especially glyphosate which causes leaky gut), and many more.
Food allergies VS food sensitivities
Both food sensitivities and food allergies cause an overactive immune response and are often confused with each other, however, they have important differences.
Food allergies are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions and cause an immediate and severe immune reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. They trigger the IgE portion of the immune system. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies are produced immediately in response to food allergies. These antibodies are found on the surface of mast cells. When activated, IgE antibodies trigger the mast cells to release various chemical messengers causing the symptoms associated with a severe food allergy. Symptoms occur in the areas that have a lot of mast cells and cause swelling, rashes, hives, itchiness, throat closing, and anaphylactic shock.
The latest statistics show food allergies affect around 15 million Americans, including one of every thirteen children. You can develop a food allergy as a child or as an adult. Food allergies can be to one food or several foods. If you have a food allergy, it is critical to avoid the allergenic food in all forms. The top eight listed food allergens are: eggs, milk, soybeans, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Most people are aware of their food allergies because of the immediate reaction. There are blood tests available that can check if you have food allergies, if you do not already know if you have any.
Food sensitivities on the other hand are typically delayed reactions up to 72 hours after consuming the food and can manifest in many different bodily systems. Digestive issues, fatigue, migraines, joint pain, skin issues, and many more health problems are linked to food sensitivities. They are hard to pinpoint because the reactions are not immediate.
The largest circulating antibody is immunoglobulin G (IgG). It is found in all body fluids and protects against bacterial and viral infections. There are four subclasses of IgG. IgG1 responds to new food antigens. IgG2 and IgG3 react to cell surface oligosaccharides of viruses, protozoa, and foods. IgG4 is related to delayed food sensitivity symptoms.
When you have food sensitivities, your body reacts to certain foods as a threat with an overactive immune response. Repeated exposure to the problematic foods can result in chronic inflammation and other health problems. It is estimated that 45-75% of individuals have some type of food sensitivities. This is where food sensitivity testing is critical. By using food sensitivity testing, you can determine which foods should be removed from your diet, however, you can always use the old fashioned way of elimination. That is you eliminate one food at a time for a number of days, and then add that item back in – paying attention to any symptoms that arrive.
What causes food sensitivities?
It is important to understand and address the underlying causes of food sensitivities. While there are various influences that can cause an abnormal immune reaction to food; leaky gut syndrome is one of the main causes of food sensitivities. Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal hyper permeability, is a condition in which the tight junctions in the gut lining become too large and abnormally permeable. Undigested food particles and toxins can pass through these holes in the gut lining and into the bloodstream. This causes the immune system to overreact and produce antibodies.
There are other potential causes of food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are linked to imbalances of intestinal microbiota (good and bad bacteria in the gut) and to chronic stress. Exposure to pollution, pesticides, chemicals, additives and preservatives in our foods can also cause food sensitivities by straining the immune system. A strained immune system is less able to respond appropriately to antigens in food.
Why do IgG food intolerances testing?
The efficacy of a diet based on the measurement of IgG antibodies to specific foods has been demonstrated in a number of conditions, both in independent studies and clinical practice.
We know that certain common foods such as wheat, dairy or eggs are more likely to show a positive result. It’s because these foods are consumed on a regular basis in the diet, often eaten daily in multiple meals, and along with digestive issues this can increase the likelihood of the body reacting to them.
The benefit of doing a food sensitivity test is that it will be able to quickly identify which of the foods that are eaten on a regular basis are a problem. In addition, the test is able to highlight more foods such as so called ‘superfoods’ or just ‘healthy’ foods, which a person may not have considered removing from their diet. For example, lately I find avocado is marked as problematic for some people, likely because they eat avocados on a daily basis and thus can become intolerant.
Overall, IgG food sensitivities have been linked to various symptoms and disorders, yet diagnosis can be quite challenging. As mentioned, symptoms are often delayed in presentation and are intermittent (not occurring after every exposure to the allergen).
Importantly, IgG food sensitivity testing is a valuable tool for practitioners helping to create personalized dietary recommendations and reducing guesswork in developing an effective treatment protocol, most likely involving healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and resetting the immune system.
Testing also helps clients to be more motivated and confident they are actively helping the body to remove obstacles to healing or getting better.
Ready to find out more?
While we highly recommend working one on one with a practitioner for your overall health approach, we recognize everyone is at a different phase of their health journey. Many are not ready to invest in overall program, rather would like to start with narrowing down their diet. Well, if this is you – we have you covered.
Sign up for our Reboot: Diet Makeover.
We have created a simple and easy at home approach for you to discover your personal food sensitivities. We utilize an IgG Food Sensitivity Test w/ Candida as a dried blood spot collection for clients who can’t perform a blood draw. The specimen can be collected from the convenience of home and shipped to the laboratory for analysis. The dried blood spot test is the same price as the serum analysis. (view sample report)
How the program works: Simply place your order. The test kit is mailed directly to the address you provide (name of testing client needs to be on the order form). Take the test and mail back to the lab for processing. (processing times may take up to 3 weeks). Results include a your personalized results and suggestions that we will provide along with your final report.
This program includes: Full test kit & return shipping label, current symptom tracker (day 1), and your personalized results and insights/suggestion from our Nutritionist. Good for ages 2 years old and up.
Please note: Once order is place, we cannot offer a refund at any time. This package is an on-line program only. It does not include private coaching sessions. You can purchase coaching session at anytime. This test and the information provided is for educational purposes only. All forms and results are provided on a private server and you will be required to activate your account in order to receive your results and fill out corresponding worksheets. This test is for IgG only.
Food Sensitivities are becoming more common in both adults and children