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Navigating Food Intolerances

The incidence of food allergies has increased dramatically over the years, and it is estimated that up to 20% of the population have adverse reactions to foods.

Our immune systems are designed to protect us from pathogens and other foreign particles that may do us harm. Upon sensing an intrusion, the body sends specialized cells that can fight and kill the offending particle by inducing the inflammation response. Normally, the immune response is appropriate to the threat.

The allergic response, however, is an overreaction by the immune system, normally in response to something that is not particularly harmful, such as dust or pollen. People can also develop allergies to particular foods, which can cause a severe allergic reaction upon ingestion. This is a true IgE mediated food allergy and these foods have usually been identified and are being avoided by the individual.

There is an increase in food intolerance or food sensitivities. These are IgG mediated reactions, which means that they are a delayed reaction to the ingestion of a food that can occur from 24-72 after the food has been consumed. Most people are not aware of these food reactions because we are consuming dozens of foods each day, so it can be confusing to pinpoint the trigger by diet recall alone.

Food intolerance or food sensitivities are associated with a wide range of medical conditions affecting virtually every part of the body. Even mood and behavior, including hyperactivity disorders in children, are profoundly influenced by food reactions.

Symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Rashes, including eczema and hives
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Ear infections
  • Sinusitis
  • Bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain

Delayed food sensitivity or intolerance can lead to fatigue, fibromyalgia, brain fog, unexplained aches and pains among other symptoms.

Suggested Approach

If you think you have food intolerances I recommend a food sensitivity and intolerance test using a specialized blood lab testing for up to 300 foods, vegetables, spices, dyes, inhalants, and pollutants. Classical skin testing for allergies such as skin-scratch testing, only measures IgE-mediated reactions and provides no information concerning delayed IgG hypersensitivity reactions. Assessment of relative IgG antibody levels to a multitude of foods using sensitive Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) technology identifies those foods against which the patient is producing antibodies. Measuring both relative IgE and IgG antibody levels provides an invaluable starting point for dietary intervention.

The results of the test come with a detailed explanation and a suggested avoidance, elimination and subsequent slow reintroduction of foods.

From there you can consider menu and food planning. 

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