Updated: Nov 19
#foodsensitivity #allergies #skinhealth #guthealth #leakygut #glutenintolerance #lactoseintolerance #foodsensitivitytesting #functionalmedicine #functionalnutritionist #holistichealth #healthiswealth #feelingtired #lackofenergy #anxiety #eczema #youarewhatyouabsorb
There's a difference between being allergic to a food and being sensitive or intolerant to it!
The difference between a food allergy and sensitivity is the body’s response. When you have a food allergy, your immune system causes an immediate reaction, like that famous peanut allergy will have your throat swell up and make you suffocate if you don't immediately go to the hospital and seek help. It is known as a Type 1 hypersensitivity, or an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity. What happens behind the scenes is that your immune system reacts adversely to the proteins in a food via a specific antibody pathway. This immune system activation results in the classic “allergy” symptoms: from the minor runny eyes, stuffy nose, and hives, all the way to a full anaphylaxis response that can be life-threatening.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, can be triggered by multiple mechanisms: some originate in your immune system (“immune-mediated” response), some happen directly in the cell without direct involvement of the immune system (“cell-mediated” response). It doesn't matter how they are triggered, the result is the same: a release of histamines, cytokines, and prostaglandins – that cause inflammation. And this inflammation can seriously affect many different parts of the body. It is quite complex to identify food sensitivities, because of the various mechanisms causing the reaction. Also, an inflammatory response to a food can occur immediately, or it can happen up to three days later! And of course, there are degrees of inflammation: a food can be highly inflammatory or mildly inflammatory, and a combination of mildly inflammatory foods can cause a bigger response. This makes it extremely difficult to identify your reactive foods.
And then there's a food intolerance, which isn’t an inflammatory response to a particular food, but it actually relates to your ability to digest it. The most common example of this is lactose intolerance. Our bodies require the enzyme lactase to break down the primary milk sugar, lactose. As infants and through puberty we produce lactase naturally (breast milk contains lactose) but as we age, some people’s production of lactase drops off. This what's called “lactose intolerance” because you don’t have the ability to break down lactose properly. It’s not an allergy and it’s not a sensitivity, it’s an intolerance. Although, of course, dairy allergies do exist (they’re produced by a different mechanism) and there are definitely also people with sensitivities to dairy...
I had a hard time getting over this, as paying attention to the foods I was eating and trying to eliminate potential triggers just didn't work. That's why I was so happy to have found a reliable test via my training on microbiome and food sensitivities....
Most testing processes look at one or two specific mechanisms, which means they aren’t comprehensive. So doing a test with your dermatologist examination IgE antibodies will not help you at all with food sensitivities or intolerance but only point out true allergies.
Also, the question of whether you are sensitive to a particular food may not be a straight yes/no answer. You can be mildly sensitive to one food, and more severely sensitive to another food. These reactions occur on a spectrum, creating an accumulated response. Basic tools like food journals can be insightful, but won’t help identify exact patterns because there are so many possibilities.... You can have a mild reaction to several foods you have in the same meal, and therefore provoke a more severe reaction than if you had eaten these foods individually. Since we don’t typically eat just one food at a time, this is making things quite complicated.
So, some foods are quite easy to find out as they might give you a rash or digestive distress, so you intuitively stay away from them. But sometimes we get a reaction only a couple of days later that we might not even notice. I wasn't surprised for instance, to see sesame in red on the food chart of my sensitivity test, but I would've never guessed that I could not have artichoke for instance.
The good thing about food sensitivity is that you can actually heal from it!
I'm seeing more and more clients that are eating "healthy" foods that are causing them inflammation. The inflammation is causing the symptoms and what I've been doing is helping them heal so that they can reintroduce the "offending" foods again. I actually was my very first client, this is how I came to this profession!
What is most important when it comes to identifying and healing the body is not the food sensitivity test itself. It’s the global approach to healing your gut — and thereby addressing the root cause of what allowed those sensitivities to develop in the first place. This is where the magic happens: specific gut healing used together with food sensitivity testing and an elimination diet.
My training as a Functional Nutritionist helped me understand that I had leaky gut and was not absorbing the nutrients from the food I was consuming. This is why I was feeling tired, hungry all the time and was developing sensitivities to more and more foods I was consuming. So I started to heal my gut and things got a whole lot better. My tummy was much flatter and I realized that all my life I actually had not had that much belly fat, but inflamed and swollen intestines that were making my belly fat!
All good so far, but then I developed eczema in my face (of all places yay). So something was still off…. I contacted different doctors to find out about food intolerance testing with no luck. There was a wealth of tests available with private providers but I didn’t know which ones to trust and they were all really pricey as well. My doctor was convinced that it wasn’t necessary to do this test, if I would heal my gut, the symptoms would resolve automatically - but they didn't! And it doesn't make sense because your gut will never completely heal if you don't take out the offending foods at least for a while. Next to a detailed stool panel, testing for food sensitivities was the missing key that helped me get rid of my chronic eczema. And not only did the eczema go away, but also I could eat again foods that I had been reacting to before like fermented foods.
I actually held a Masterclass on skin health a couple of weeks ago, if you want to learn more about what is leaky gut and what I did in detail, you can listen in here.
Or contact me directly if you have any questions!