Quite often, food sensitivities (intolerances) go undiagnosed for many years, or even an entire lifetime. When a person ingests a food they are sensitive to, the body recognizes the food as a "toxin" and initiates an immune response leading to inflammation within the gut and potentially the whole body. Chronic inflammation puts the body into distress, which may cause symptoms, but may not. This distress makes the body work overtime and can potentially lead to chronic disease. So how do you know if you have a food sensitivity?
Sign's and symptoms of food sensitivities
- Skin: eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, hives, redness, acne, dark circles under eyes, itching
- Gastrointestinal: upset stomach, gas/bloating, constipation/diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, GERD, burping
- Respiratory: wheezing, nasal congestion, asthma
- Other: joint pain, swelling or heat sensations of the oral mucosa, headaches, migraines, brain fog, fatigue, irritability, mental and physical heaviness, ear infections or pain, eye discharge or itchiness
- Any new or chronic symptoms with no known cause (ex. nocturia, inability to focus)
Food sensitivities do not occur over night, but sometimes it can feel this way. One theory discusses food sensitivities as an additive effect. For instance, if you are sleeping poorly, not exercising, under a lot of stress, and other factors, you may develop a new sensitivity. Therefore, just because you have been eating a certain food since you were a kid, doesn't mean it's not the culprit!
Top food sensitivities
- Tree & pine nuts
- Nightshade vegetables (peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes)
- Others- refined sugars, food additives, coffee, alcohol, chocolate (oh no!), citrus
*Not-so-fun fact: The foods you really enjoy (also known as your comfort foods), tend to be the ones you are most sensitive too!
- Blood testing tests for IgE antibodies of potential food allergens. Blood tests are less sensitive than skin scratching (less accurate) and are often unreliable. They can be altered by a persons current diet, the time of day when the blood is drawn, and other inflammatory conditions coexisting at the time of the draw. Blood testing is most useful when a person has potential for a severe food allergy and anaphylaxis is a concern.
- Skin scratch testing is highly sensitive, but not very specific. This means it will most likely determine if you have a sensitivity to a specific food, but it will also give false positive results. Therefore it is difficult to determine which results are accurate.
- The Elimination Diet is the gold standard (meaning the best method) currently for diagnosing food allergies and sensitivities. It requires avoidance of potential food allergen for 2-3 weeks followed by a food reintroduction phase where symptoms are documented.
- Try the elimination diet to find which foods may be causing your persistent symptoms.
- Not ready to commit to the elimination diet? Stick to a whole foods diet with plenty of water for 2-3 weeks- see how you feel after this.
- And of course- avoid the foods you are sensitive to!
Set up an appointment to talk to your doctor about your potential food sensitivities and what you can do to feel better TODAY! Find a Naturopathic Doctor here.
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. "