Food Sensitivities: Should you test?
Are you concerned you may be developing sensitivities to various foods? It could be that you have digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, or loose stool, after eating. Or perhaps you’ve noticed headaches, skin problems or fatigue after consuming certain foods.
A food sensitivity or intolerance is different than a food allergy. A true allergy is mediated by the immune system, the IgE antibody which is responsible for protecting us against threats in our body. An allergic reaction happens immediately after the food is consumed and includes reactions like vomiting, swelling, hives and anaphylaxis.
With food sensitivities the reactions are often delayed and are most often gastrointestinal in nature. A lactose intolerance is an example. The person lacks sufficient lactase to break down the lactose in milk. Dairy and gluten top the list of foods that are often not tolerated.
There are a variety of tests available that reveal food sensitivities. The food sensitivity blood tests measure the amount of IgG (Immunoglobulin G antibody) present in response to undigested food particles that have crossed the GI tract and entered the blood stream. The results often include a long list of food sensitivities.
The problem with these tests is that they have not been proven to be very reliable. If you were to have the same test done within a couple of months, your results might be completely different. That can be because you consumed different foods before each test. I had a GI who offered food sensitivity testing and he even told me as much when I was probing him for more information.
For people who have the food sensitivity testing done and are given a list of 20 foods to avoid, it can be completely overwhelming to put together a diet…and stick with it!
Avoiding that many foods can lead to boredom as well as nutrient deficiencies over time.
So what is the answer? There is a reason you are developing food sensitivities. Keeping a food diary or doing an elimination diet can help you discover which foods you are reacting to. The key is to discover what is causing the food sensitivity. A holistic nutritionist can help discover potential triggers, and work with you to heal your gut.