Understanding the term and the thing.
Have you been told you shouldn’t eat a food but don’t know why?
If you’ve heard the term food sensitivity but don’t understand what that is, except that you know it’s not an anaphylactic allergy, this article is for you!
What is a food sensitivity? There are many different ways our body can respond to things in our environment, including the things we put into our digestive tract, which is really just an extension of our external body.
Whoa, the digestive tract is an extension of your external body. Yes! It is the first line of defense, just like your skin, against things from the environment.
In fact, the majority of our immune system resides in our gut. So, it makes sense that there is a possibility of foods we eat causing a response by our immune system. Specifically, we know of two main ways our body responds if we are going to react.
Actually there are at least 3 ways you can react but let’s talk about the main immune responses today.
We may have an anaphylactic, or IgE/histamine related reaction. Or we may have a sensitivity, IgG, reaction.
So, what is a sensitivity?
The best way to describe it is a low-grade response from your body, that is regulated by immunoglobulin G (IgG), that starts hours or even days after you eat a food, and can last for a number of weeks. The reactions can be anything from low grade fatigue, headaches, skin irritation, digestive upset, or even immune system disfunctions and wider problems such as hashimoto’s disease. It is however an immune system response to a food, with a reaction that is not an anaphylactic response. The other thing to know about a sensitivity is that you can have this type of reaction that affects different systems in your body, and yet have no digestive symptoms at all. This is how it gets super confusing.
Well then how do you know if you have one?
In this case I definitely recommend guidance from a trained practitioner. A naturopathic doctor or a holistic nutritionist are going to have the best understanding of how this type of response occurs and how to identify the specific foods involved. Once you have identified the foods, it does take a minimum of 6 weeks of completely eliminating the foods for the symptoms to start to resolve, as this is how long it takes for the immune response to be cleared by the body. For example, if you ever thought you were having some sort of reaction to dairy, and you had eliminated it for 2 weeks but it “did nothing”, this is because it either wasn’t the right food, or it wasn’t eliminated long enough for the reaction to calm down. Again, this is where I definitely recommend guidance as diets can get overly restrictive if you don’t have a targeted plan for why you’re removing a certain food.
Did you hear that the blood test is useless?
Unfortunately, the reporting that was used to make this statement was very poorly done and presented information that was completely inaccurate. There are blood tests that can be done, and that are effective and diagnosing in many cases, but just like any other test or diagnostic, we have to remember that they are just a tool, and don’t account for all of the possible ways that your body can respond to something you are consuming. I see this type of blood test used effectively in many clinical cases in offices of many practitioners, and see it resolve previously unexplained symptoms regularly when a plan that takes those results into account are used. It is more common to see success than not when going this route. I know this whole topic can be extremely confusing, and it is one that again, I really highly recommend getting a trained opinion and guidance on. It will save you weeks, months, or even years of frustration.