Food Allergies and Sensitivites

Food allergies and sensitivities are responsible for many chronic health conditions.  Many people think that food sensitivities can only cause some kind of problem in the gut.  Well that is wrong. Food sensitivities are immune reactions that have wide ranging effects all over the body. Think of your white blood cells.  Your white blood cells react against the offending food by creating inflammatory chemical messengers to trigger an attack against the food.  The white blood cells also create antibodies against the food. These antibodies and chemical messengers can then travel throughout the body and effects many tissues and organs systems. Another thing that can occur is cellular mimicry. This where the immune system thinks that parts of the body are the offending food, because the receptor sites on the cell are similar to those on the food. And so the immune system attacks your own body.  We call an Autoimmune Reaction, which can lead to an Autoimmune condition.  Common autoimmune conditions include Hashimotos hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis and Psoriasis.

Food allergies and sensitivities can many symptoms including: rashes, fatigue, gas, bloating, joint and muscle pain, brain fog and can lead to auto immune reactions to many tissues as described above.

There is much confusion and debate about food sensitivies and allergies.  The body makes several different types of antibodies.  The antibodies associated with Food allergies and sensitivities are IgE, IgG and IgA.

True food allergies by definition involve only IgE antibodies. This is the kind of reaction like the kid who eats peanuts and his throat swells up and he can’t breathe. These are typically a fast reacting type reaction with also immediate noticeable reactions. But IgE food allergies can also cause slower more insidious or hidden problems.

Food sensitives on the other hand involve IgA and IgG antibodies. These immune reactions are usually much slower. It can take up to 3 days to have a reaction and the reactions are usually less intense. These are the most confusing, because you can eat something and not have a reaction for a day or more and the reaction can as subtle as feeling a little tired.  These symptoms can also be confused with blood sugar fluctuations or dysbiosis such as SIBO. But food sensitivities can lead to chronic long term problems such as autoimmune reactions. Overall food allergies and sensitivities can lead to chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of many health conditions.

How do you know if you have a food allergy or sensitivity? Well believe it or not the best way to is if you have noticed that you have a reaction to a food. This better than any lab test. And so you should take the reaction seriously.  However, most of time it is hard to tell if you are having a reaction or not.  The gold standard has been the elimination challenge diet. But I have found that this is very difficult for patients to do and usually they are unsure, if they have a reaction or not.  I will still do elimination/challenge testing on occasion. And scratch test only test for IgE reactions and aren’t always reliable for foods. So this why I use blood testing. The best lab is Cyrex laboratory.  They test IgG and IgA for raw as well as cooked foods.  They are more expensive, but I think that it is worth it, if you really want to know.  They also provide the most comprehensive gluten testing available. I also use a lower cost alternative lab US Biotech labs. Working with food allergies and sensitivities is really an art and it takes some time a patience.

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