Food Intolerance & Food Sensitivity Testing
The terms ‘food intolerance’ and ‘food allergy’ are often confused – although the two are completely different.
A true food allergy is rare: only about 2% of adults are affected by a food allergy. With a food allergy the body’s immune system mistakes a food for a ‘foreign invader’ which results in a rapid allergic reaction often within minutes (and generally within a maximum of two hours).
Food intolerances are much more common than food allergies. Researchers estimate that at least 60% of the U.S. population suffers from unsuspected food reactions that can cause or complicate health problems. When foods and drinks are digested the proteins within them are broken down into smaller fragments for easy absorption. Sometimes the body reacts to the fragments by attacking them using antibodies called immunoglobulins. The symptoms can greatly impact a person’s quality of life, but symptoms are not life threatening. Symptoms of food intolerance can take up to 72 hours to appear after eating the trigger food. On average people who suffer from food intolerances usually have between 4 and 8 trigger foods. Many people suffer for years, having formed a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms but being unable to enjoy a normal work and home life. Many people don’t realize that there are easy steps to take that could resolve their condition. Studies show that those who eliminate trigger foods based on food-specific immunoglobulin tests have: reductions in weight, body mass index, waist and hip circumference and improvements in all indicators of quality of life that were measured. The quality of life indicators included physical and emotional wellbeing, mental health, social life, pain levels and vitality.
Food Intolerance verses Food Allergy
|Food Intolerance||Food Allergy|
|Reactions up to 72 hours after eating||Immediate reactions (2 hours or less)|
|Multiple foods can be involved||Rarely more than 1-2 foods|
|Any organ system can be affected||Primary skin, airways and digestive system|
|Very common||Trace amounts of foods can cause reactions|
|Difficult to self-diagnose||Caused by raised IgE antibody|
|Symptoms can clear after avoidance (3-6 months)||Lifelong|
Symptoms of food intolerance:
- Abdominal Cramps/Pain
- Muscle and Joint Aches
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Fluid Retention
- Weight loss/Weight Gain
In considering food sensitivities, the role of ‘leaky gut’ must be discussed. Leaky gut, or ‘intestinal permeability’, is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to ‘leak’ through the intestines and flood the bloodstream. The foreign substances entering the bloodstream cause inflammation throughout the body, stirring up trouble everywhere. A vicious cycle of worsening inflammation and worsening leaky gut occurs, which leads to a variety of health issues. This cycle of inflammation triggers an antibody immune response and a whole cascade of inflammatory signals travel to anywhere and everywhere in the body.
Inflammation and leaky gut are tied to a variety of conditions, from autoimmunity – like Hashimoto’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis – to depression, anxiety, migraines, irritable bowel, eczema, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, PMS, PCOS, infertility, cervical dysplasia and more. In many cases, leaky gut is caused by your diet. Leaky gut can also be caused by medications including antibiotics, steroids or over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen, which can irritate the intestinal lining and damage protective mucus layers.