Food Allergies & Sensitivity

Hallandale Beach, FL Functional Medicine

 

Patients often ask to be screened for “food allergies”. This question comes about when discussing abdominal discomfort with symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. People often believe that their digestive symptoms are related to specific foods and they are not wrong for believing that. 

Offensive foods may be causing particular symptoms that are affecting one’s health. Patients often want to be tested, identify the offensive foods, and eliminate them to resolve their symptoms. However, this topic is more complex and the solution may not be as simple the removal of certain foods. In this article, we will discuss the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity and how this can be related to digestive symptoms.  

Food Allergies

If you have a food allergy, your immune system responds immediately and often drastically to the presence of food in your system. In a true food allergy 1, a person’s immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in response to the consumption of a particular food. These antibodies initiate a cascade of events that can cause reactions such as rashes, swelling, hives, vomiting, and wheezing. Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a food allergy. Food allergies can also be life-threatening if not treated immediately in the case of anaphylaxis. If you have a food allergy, it is important to seek immediate medical attention and closely follow your doctor’s recommendations. Common food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat, and eggs. 

Food allergy example: Eating eggs causes an immediate allergic reaction resulting in hives.

 

Food Sensitivities

If you have food sensitivities, your reactions may not be as dramatic or immediate. In a true food sensitivity, a person’s immune system produces immunoglobulin G (IgG) 2 antibodies in response to the consumption of a particular food. If you are sensitive to a particular food, you may be able to eat a little of it and only experience symptoms if you have too much. The reason for this is because an IgG response is a delayed reaction that can show up hours or even a few days after eating the food. The symptoms can result in brain fog, chronic inflammation, and migraines. Food sensitivities may be driving many of your symptoms including, bloating, digestive distress, migraines, difficulty losing weight, acne, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and many other symptoms that can be signs of food sensitivities.

Food sensitivity example: Eating wheat toast for breakfast and experiencing a migraine headache days later. 

 

How do food sensitivities develop?

One major way people develop food sensitivities is through a condition called leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition in which inflammation in the lining of the intestines results in the breakdown of the gut barrier that allows partially digested food particles to escape the intestine between the cell walls of the gut. This results in inflammation between the cells. The immune system mounts an antibody attack in response to this event. If you are consistently eating foods that you are sensitive to then you are consistently triggering your immune system to cause damage within your body. You may find that despite your best efforts to feel better, you just can’t achieve optimize your health if you keep aggravating your system with foods that your body does not respond well to. 

Your body knows better than any other test does. 

A mentor of mine always approached food sensitivities differently. Patients were educated on the potential for false positives when testing for food sensitivities if there’s another issue at the root of the patient’s symptoms. This is why at Miami Spine + Performance we take a foundational approach to food sensitivities. We evaluate the patient’s diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures to understand the potential causes of the patient’s symptoms. Before we can test the patient for food sensitivities we must be sure to rule out other conditions that could be causing the patient’s food sensitivity. These conditions include nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalance, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth, fungal infections, parasitic infections, etc. We also take a “food first” approach to food sensitivities. We start with the removal of the 12 most inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, eggs, etc and gradually introduce foods back into the diet while monitoring the patient’s responses.

How can we test for food sensitivities?

At Miami Spine + Performance, we love objective data and use science to guide our treatment. We use IgG and IgA testing from Cyrex Labs to evaluate the patient for food sensitivities. Our ultimate goal is to find the cause of your symptoms and get you feeling better than ever!

If you are interested in Food Sensitivity Testing and would like to review your results with our functional medicine physician, give us a call or book online below!

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