Is it a food allergy or sensitivity?
The word “allergy” is confusing because many people use it as a fully encompassing generic term for true allergic reactions and nonallergic adverse reactions, also called sensitivities or intolerances.
Immune reactions can result from the different types of food allergies or food sensitivities you may possess. The most common foods causing allergic reactions are peanuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs and tree nuts. Once identified, we recommend eliminating those problematic foods from your diet.
Food allergies are divided into two major categories: immediate and delayed.
When immediate food reaction occurs, sufferers experience symptoms within hours of having ingested the food. Symptom onset is rapid and may include tingling of extremities, wheezing, coughing, tightening of the throat, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Sometimes in cases where nuts, shellfish, fish, and peanuts have been eaten anaphylaxis can occur.
Immediate food reaction is a fixed food allergy. The food to which you are allergic will almost always provoke an immune reaction when ingested. In immediate reactions the body over produces what is called Immunoglobulin E antibodies, (IgE). IgE binds to allergens and and triggers an allergic response to any substance it sees foreign. Often, the reaction isn’t severe the first time, rather it is the second time of exposure that the acute reaction can occur.
A food sensitivity, as opposed to a food allergy, happens gradually and isn’t life threatening. Symptoms of a delayed food allergy can take up to 72 hours to appear. This type of immune response is mediated by the IgG antibody, which is the largest circulating antibody in our immune system and can cross the placenta from mother to child. IgG antibodies are the most common form of immunologic mediated food responses. It can be difficult to identify the offending food since we eat so many foods that go through different processes and have many ingredients. It is estimated that 20% of the population have an adverse reaction to a certain food.
Food sensitivities may be caused by many factors such as stress, infections, overeating, artificial preservatives, additives, molds, pesticides, antibiotics, and environmental pollutants. Unidentified food sensitivities can then contribute to many chronic health conditions: including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, autism, ADD/ADHD, eczema, chronic ear infections, gut malabsorption, insomnia and many others.