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What’s the difference between Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

A typical day begins with you pressing the snooze button three times because you just can’t get out of bed; your body feels so lethargic that you liken yourself to a sack of potatoes. When you do finally roll out of bed and somehow make it to work you have a difficult time concentrating because its as though a heavy fog has settled itself over your brain. After lunch you waddle yourself back to your desk because you are bloated as a balloon about to burst. After work you consider going to the gym, but on top of the fatigue, fog and bloating, your joints are also aching, so you tell yourself maybe some other time. Just when you thought that you couldn’t feel any worse, a headache sets in making you retire to bed early so that you can rest up enough to deal with your symptoms again tomorrow.

If this sounds like you, you might be experiencing food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are different from true food allergies however in both kinds of reactions the immune system releases cells called antibodies; allergies releases IgE antibodies (immunoglobulin E) and sensitivities release IgG antibodies (immunoglobulin G).

IgE allergies happen almost immediately upon exposure to the allergen/antigen (i.e. foods that cause antibodies to be released), and require a medical response as they can cause a range of life threatening symptoms. Common examples include peanuts, bee stings and reactions to certain antibiotics.

Food sensitivities on the other hand are a delayed response anywhere from hours to days after the exposure to the allergen. This can make uncovering the allergen culprit more difficult to pinpoint. The symptoms from food sensitivities will be different for everyone, and can include the following:

  • Digestive: gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, heart burn

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Hormonal: fertility issues, PMS, menstrual cramps

  • Mood: anxiety, depression, mood swings, poor concentration

  • Muscle and joint pain

How do you determine if your symptoms are related to what you are eating?

Our body runs off of the fuel that we supply it, in other words, the foods we eat. We can be eating all the “good” foods but even those “good” foods could have ill-effects if we are one of the “lucky ones” to have a sensitivity to it. So here my checklist to determine if my patients are experiencing food sensitivities and how to help them:

  • Finding the Food Culprits: I have my patients track everything they are eating for a period of time as well as any symptoms that occur. This gives us a baseline of their diet habits relative to how they are feeling. From there I can spot patterns and make recommendations towards dietary changes. Note – if you see me as a patient expect your diet to be tweaked! In addition, I can also perform a Food Sensitivity Panel that tests for those IgG Food reactions. This is a great way to get quick answers and ultimately faster results, as we know exactly what foods to stay away from.

  • Take a Break: Here we eliminate the culprit foods so that your body can take a break and begin the recovery process.

  • Heal: While taking a break from food offenders there are also some supplements that I recommend that work to heal the gut. Food sensitivities create a lot of inflammation and damage to the lining of the intestinal wall so we want to work to diminish this and give our body a fighting chance.

  • Reintroduce: Yum! You get to start eating those foods again that you have been craving. Introducing foods one-by-one gives us a pretty good understanding of how your body reacts to specific foods and whether or not it wants you to be eating them!

  • Support: With a tailored diet and supplement protocol, stress management and lifestyle counselling, it is quite possible that you may not react to the same foods again. This entire process is so that you can feel better and live the life you want. You will feel empowered to make the right food choices to properly fuel your body!

If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity that could be contributing to your ill health, feel free to contact me. I offer complimentary 15-minute consultations.


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