What are food allergies, intolerances and food sensitivities?
A lot of people use the terms food allergy, food intolerance and food sensitivity interchangeably. But, a true food allergy causes itching, hives, and swelling that come on shortly after eating a food. If you’ve had food allergy testing at a conventional allergist, this is probably what was tested for. They look at a prick test or measure IgE immunoglobulins to see if your immune system responded to a specific food.
Much more common are food intolerances and food sensitivities. An intolerance is an inability to break down specific foods. For instance, a lot of people have lactose (milk sugar) intolerance and this can be corrected by taking an enzyme (lactase). It is really unpleasant but doesn’t activate the immune system.
Food sensitivities are delayed reactions (2-7 days) that have an immune system effect (IgG antibodies). Food sensitivities are common and contribute to a wide range of immune and inflammatory conditions (see below).
Why does it matter?
A lot of auto-immune and auto-inflammatory conditions are related, in part, to food sensitivities. The most common sensitivities are to the proteins in: dairy (Casien), Wheat (Gluten), Corn (Zein), egg and Soy. But, it is possible to be sensitive to any food even though it may be considered healthy for other people.
Like many alternative medicine practitioners, I believe food allergies happen when undigested protein passes through the stomach and leaks through the small intestine into the blood.
The liver organ has many functions one being an important part of the immune system. When the liver is busy with food proteins, the overall immune burden is increased and this can lead to auto-inflammation or auto-immunity
Symptoms of IgG Food Allergy may include:
Aches and Pains
Chronic Infections Constipation
Irritable Bowel IBS
Loss of Appetite
Recurrent Ear Infection
Recurrent Sinus Infections Rhinitis
Weight Gain or Loss Wheezing
FOOD ALLERGIES DON’T CAUSE EVERYTHING! BUT FOOD ALLERGIES CAN CAUSE ANYTHING!
What can we do about it?
Avoiding foods that are causing problems is not a fun solution but it is important to start here. Often, some of the foods can be incorporated into the diet with treatment. There are a number of food sensitivity tests on the market and this can be helpful but the very best (and least expensive) ways to figure out what you’re sensitive to is to take the likely foods out of your diet for 2 weeks and add them back in 1/ week. Ask us for our 14 Inflammatory Food Diet.
We can treat food sensitivities with acupuncture and herbs!
Use herbs and acupuncture to down regulate the severity of symptoms. Consider herbs such as albizia, Baical Skullcap, and Black Cumin
Improve the health of stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes. We want the proteins in our food to be digested as much as possible before they enter the small intestine.
Work on improving intestinal permeability so undigested proteins don’t enter the blood stream.
Improve liver health. Bupleurum is an important herb for the liver. Ideally we want 1.2 gm of Buplurum flacatum root per day. We can also consider liver detoxification or treatment using acupuncture.
If you’re suffering from the effects of food allergies, or have other chronic issues, give us a call today at 616.855.7718.