Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Have you ever noticed that some foods just don’t sit right with you? Or perhaps you experience physical symptoms that despite your best effort can’t be explained. You could be suffering from a particular food allergy, food sensitivity, or even food intolerance.
Food allergy and sensitivity testing can help you get to the root cause of your health concerns. Testing for food sensitivity with a Functional Medicine doctor can help you feel your best again, eliminating reoccurring symptoms and preventing long-term health issues. The specialists at Chicago Natural Health Care use comprehensive food sensitivity and food allergy testing to identify what foods are helping you and what foods may be hurting you and holding you back from optimal health.
What Is A Food Sensitivity?
Food sensitivity is a common issue that many people don’t even realize they have. While many signs and symptoms of a food sensitivity and food allergy overlap, some symptoms of food sensitivity take longer to emerge.
A food sensitivity occurs when your body has difficulty digesting a certain type of food. Similar to food allergies, the body will begin to produce antibodies against this food. The antibodies produced during food sensitivities are less severe than a food allergy, but can still have unhealthy and undesirable side effects. This immune response also causes inflammation of the digestive tract and may result in unwanted particles of this food entering the bloodstream. As a result, several negative symptoms of food sensitivity may occur.
When you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction to a certain food, your body is more likely to react immediately. However, with a food sensitivity, many symptoms take hours to impact you and may then go undetected. Some symptoms may take up to 48 hours and can persist for several hours or even days, causing great confusion as to why you are feeling ill.
What Is A Food Intolerance?
If you have a food intolerance, you may be able to eat small amounts of the offending food without trouble. You may also be able to prevent a reaction. For example, if you have lactose intolerance, you may be able to drink lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme pills (Lactaid) to aid digestion.
Causes of food intolerance include:
- The absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food. Lactose Intolerance is a common example.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation and diarrhea.
- Sensitivity to food additives. For example, sulfites used to preserve dried fruit, canned goods and wine can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
- Recurring stress or psychological factors. Sometimes the mere thought of a food may make you sick. The reason is not fully understood.
- Celiac disease. Celiac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it involves the immune system. However, symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal, and people with celiac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.
Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity vs. Food Intolerance
Food sensitivities can leave you feeling unwell and may result in a decline in health and wellness. However, a true food allergy can cause an immediate life-threatening reaction. With a food sensitivity, you can usually eat tiny amounts of this food without noticing a reaction. If you have a food allergy, even a trace amount of this food can cause a severe response.
Our functional medicine doctors at Chicago Natural Health Care can help you distinguish the difference and, as necessary, work in conjunction with your food allergist to ensure that your body is safely addressing your health needs. See the chart below to get a better understanding of the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity.
Food Sensitivity Symptoms
A food sensitivity or intolerance to particular foods first impacts digestive health in the gut where there is an estimated 70-80% of the immune system. As a result, an individual may experience a wide range of symptoms throughout the body, including:
- Migraines and Headaches
- Runny nose
- Stomach ache
- Irritable Bowel
What Causes Food Intolerance
Instead of masking painful symptoms, our Functional Medicine doctors at Chicago Natural Health Care seek to find the cause and then uses this information to alleviate the symptoms while creating a healthier foundation for your body. Our approach ensures that your body can begin to heal itself with optimal results because getting to the root cause of your symptoms is our primary goal.
- For some individuals, there is an absence of an enzyme needed for proper digestion. An enzyme deficiency can be a common cause of food intolerance.
- For others, certain chemicals in foods and drinks may lead to food sensitivities. Caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolates, and amines in certain cheeses can make some people more susceptible than others.
- Some foods have naturally occurring chemicals that act like toxins on humans. When not properly cooked, for instance, beans can cause digestive distress.
- The natural occurrence of histamine in some foods can lead to physical reactions, as well. Foods, when not stored properly, can accumulate more histamine and those trigger strong allergic reactions.
- Salicylate intolerance may be the cause of food sensitives that occur after eating large amounts of plant-sourced foods like fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, tea and flavor additives. Salicylites occur when plants make salicylic acid in defense to bacteria, fungi, insects, and disease. Individuals who are salicylate intolerant may need to avoid foods with high levels – particularly processed that may contain flavor additives.
- As a growing source of food sensitivity, food additive intolerance may cause adverse reaction due to additives like Nitrates, MSG, Sulfites, and certain food coloring.
Food Intolerance Treatment From Chicago Natural Health Care
While every individual is unique, we offer a range of treatment opportunities to help uncover and treat food sensitivities.
- Diagnostic Testing. We provide testing for hundreds of potential allergy catalysts, including both food and ingredients such as wheat, gluten, dairy, lactose and nuts. We will also look at environmental triggers such as pollen and dust. Our doctors will create a comprehensive report that identifies your catalysts and work from there to help heal and improve your immune response. Inflammation from food sensitivities, food allergies, and food intolerances must be addressed in order to optimize health and well being.
- Elimination Diet. Our doctors may also prescribe an elimination diet with your unique health goals in mind. An elimination diet can provide first-hand information about food sensitivities, while also relieving you of your symptoms. During your elimination diet, our practitioners will closely work with you to monitor possible reactions and identify your food sensitivities.
- Food sensitivity testing may also be accompanied by comprehensive blood tests to assess other patterns of imbalance in the body. Rather than looking for a singular specific disease, these tests help evaluate organ and system functions throughout the body. Functional Medicine lab testing is often successful in addressing underlying imbalances before they become a disease.
Why You Should Get Tested For Food Allergies and Sensitivities
While food intolerances cause initial discomfort, the consequence of unaddressed food intolerance may lead to more severe conditions or even misdiagnosed illness. At Chicago Natural Health Care, we can help you alleviate symptoms of food sensitivity and provide a blueprint for your ongoing healthy lifestyle. Call us today at 773-418-6877 or schedule below!