What are Food Sensitivities?
Often people feel that something they are eating in the diet may be causing them an issue or a symptom but they just can’t put their finger on it. Other times, a person may be eating what they think is a healthy diet but experience various symptoms such as allergies, migraines, painful joints and skin issues. In some cases. Food sensitivities or food intolerances are to blame.
Unlike true food allergies, food sensitivities cause non specific symptoms which can accumulate over days leading to the expression of symptoms. In the case of food sensitivities, the body is thought to mount an IgG reaction to certain foods causing low grade inflammation throughout the system. In essence when the IgG antibody attaches itself to the antigen (offending food), an antigen-antibody complex is formed which is normally removed by macrophages otherwise called hr scavengers of the body. However if these complexes are produced in large amounts, the macrophages are not able to remove the complexes fast enough.
Allergies on the other hand are triggered by IgE reactions and the reaction is immediate. Typically people have allergies to eight foods: cow’s milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nuts shellfish, soy and what. If you are allergic to any of these foods and ingest them, your immune system sees the allergen an a threat and mounts a response via an inflammatory pathway called IgE. Food sensitivities are delayed and can take time to develop leaving the body prone to inflammation. Some controversy exists around the validity of the test as some argue that the issue is not truly an immune issue rather a digestive issue stemming from the deficiency of certains enzymes.
Possible symptoms of a food sensitivity
Common symptoms associated with food sensitivities include:
- Abdominal discomfort including gas and bloating
- Nasal congestion
- Skin reactions (dermatitis herpetiformis) that include blisters, welts, itching, and/or redness
Do Food Sensitivity Tests Work?
For many people experiencing non specific symptoms, food sensitivity testing can be helpful. Often when people have been told that not much can be offered in terms of help from the conventional medical standpoint, an elimination diet based on a food sensitivity testing can offer relief. These include people who have been told that their only option is an antacid for their persistent indigestion for example.
Benefits of Food Sensitivity testing include:
- Can test a large number of foods for adverse reactions from a single sample
- May help to identify specific foods causing symptoms
- Results can be obtained faster than those uncovered via a traditional elimination diet
When looking at studies based on IgG testing, one area of promise is in the treatment of migraines. In 2007 research found that 43 out of 65 patients found a significant reduction in the number of head ache days.
Food sensitivity testing also benefited individuals with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Evidence also exists for the support of Mood and attention deficit disorders to food sensitivity testing.
Rocky Mountain FST (Food Sensitivity Test)
When patients come to see me at my clinic, typically I like to provide some guidance on diet and nutrition. If I feel that many of the symptoms are of a chronic low grade inflammatory nature I discuss the benefits of food sensitivity testing. Many of the symptoms associated with with digestive disorders, migraines, seasonal allergies can often be helped using a test such as this. It provides a roadmap to understand what foods we should eliminate for reducing andn managing inflammation.
After the initial intake and decision on food sensitivity testing, I provide a requisition for the patient which they can take to any LifeLabs. The sample is then processed for antibody-antigen complexes against 200 different foods to understand which foods are at the root of the issue. The patient is then called back for a follow up and results are discussed. Patients are also given a guide book that discusses the process along with a timeline for reintroduction. On this course I like to see patients every 3 to 4 weeks to monitor progress and understand pain points. A food reintroduction timeline is also provided along with a symptom tracker that identifies reactions to foods reintroduced back into the diet. Along this journey, we also discuss nutrient therapy and other forms of treatments to augment digestive healing.
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Wantke F, Götz M, Jarisch R. Histamine-free diet: treatment of choice for histamine-induced food intolerance and supporting treatment for chronic headaches. Clin Exp Allergy. 1993 Dec;23(12):982-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1993.tb00287.x. PMID: 10779289.
Al-Rabia MW. Food-induced immunoglobulin E-mediated allergic rhinitis. J Microsc Ultrastruct. 2016 Apr-Jun;4(2):69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jmau.2015.11.004. Epub 2015 Dec 14. PMID: 30023212; PMCID: PMC6014210.