One of the most common problems I see in my office is digestive concerns. Whether that be gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or heartburn, one of the first areas to address are the foods we eat.
- tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc)
What is most difficult about this list is the frequency that we eat these foods. Dairy, wheat and eggs are a staple in our North American diets. How do we find out if one of these foods is an allergy or sensitivity or if it’s another food entirely?
There has been some controversy around testing food allergies versus food sensitivities…let’s explore that a bit further.
A true allergy is an anaphylactic allergy that is an IgE reaction in the body. The immune system reacts immediately to the offending food causing mucous membranes (inside of mouth and lips) to swell. We often think of this with peanuts and the growing amount of children who are allergic to them.
But many of us have food reactions of are own, that are are not anaphylactic, but take away from our day, causing pain, discomfort and annoyance. Many of these reactions are due to food sensitivities or intolerances and this is done via a different set of immune reactions, the IgG antibodies. What is tricky about identifying these, is that we don’t often see symptoms developing immediately. We can react up to 72 hours after foods are eaten, making it very difficult to know what food is the culprit.
You have many options when trying to address food sensitivities. You can do an elimination diet, which is my favourite way to uncover foods. I love this approach, as you give your body a chance to chill out during a 2-3 week elimination and then systematically bring each food back in to determine what food is causing what reaction. This is time and effort intensive, as it usually takes 6-8 weeks to fully complete, but the results are worthwhile. This approach is not for everyone though, so testing is also available. TouchStone Health offers a wide selection of food panels to be tested to help uncover if your body is indeed sensitive to specific foods.
There are many options to get you feeling better. Whether it’s digestive health, weight loss, mental clarity, congestion, skin health or energy that you want to improve, addressing underlying food sensitivities may be helpful in getting you there.