Are your health complaints driven by a food intolerance?
Allergy related conditions are on the rise, particularly in the UK which has one of the highest allergy prevalence rates in the world. The most common food related offenders are milk, eggs, nuts, soy, shellfish and the biggest one, peanuts. Allergies have become so widespread that some schools have implemented a nut free policy to ensure the health safety of those experiencing a true allergy to nuts. However, the term ‘allergy’ is often used incorrectly when in most instances it should be referred to as an ‘intolerance' or ‘sensitivity'. What’s the difference?
A food ‘allergy’ is when an individual’s immune system responds to something that might be harmless to someone else. Somewhat like a ‘false alarm’. If you experience a ‘true’ food allergy (IgE antibody mediated) you most likely know about it because you will have an immediate reaction to the offending food and probably experienced this since childhood.
Because this type of antibody is located in the lungs and on the skin and mucous membranes the symptoms are usually swelling, difficulty breathing, asthma, eczema or in more serious cases cause an anaphylactic shock. Because the allergic reaction is immediate, it's easy to identify which foods you are allergic to. For example, you eat a nut and you immediately experience difficulty breathing or have an asthma attack.
However more commonly people are experiencing food intolerances and sensitivities (IgG antibody mediated) with the most common reactions arising from milk, eggs, beans, nuts and grains. It is believed that food sensitivities affect a much larger percentage of the population and these start to develop later on in life. Common conditions associated with IgG related food sensitivities and intolerances include:
- Bloating and fluid retention
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Skin conditions
- Behavioural problems in children
- Autoimmune conditions
- Sleep disturbances
The gold standard for any food related reaction is an elimination diet whereby you eliminate the most common offenders for 3 weeks and then one by one slowly reintroduce them back into your diet to identify the foods you are sensitive to. Whilst this is effective, it is incredibly difficult. Particularly as it relates to food intolerances as reactions can be triggered by a number of foods and they can be delayed. The reactions might not show up until 3 days later making it hard to know what triggered it.
Food Intolerance scan we run in our clinic to help some clients identify if they have a food intolerance and which foods they are intolerant to. The great news about food sensitivities is many of them can be reversed. I believe the biggest trigger is related to impaired gut health and intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.
By knowing which foods you are reacting to and removing them from your diet you reduce inflammation, reduce your symptoms and most importantly can start the gut healing and repair process. Once you have repaired the gut, more often than not clients are able to reintroduce those foods without any problems.
But, Symptoms Can Be Very Complicated
Quite often, it is difficult to determine whether the patient has a food intolerance or an allergy because the signs and symptoms often overlap. Also, onset can occur quickly or only several hours after ingesting the offending food or compound and can persist for days. Symptoms are broadly classified as follows:
Some Foods to Avoid!
Food sensitivities can cause a wide range of painful or uncomfortable reactions that may be felt immediately, or even days later. Potential symptoms include abdominal pain, anxiety, bloating, brain fog, diarrhoea, fatigue, headaches, heartburn, joint pain, nausea, and rashes, which closely mirror many autoimmune disease symptoms.
Common food sensitivities:*
- Gluten (wheat, barely, rye) a.k.a. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) or Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS)
- Casein (dairy products)
- Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, goji berries)
- Legumes (peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, beans)
- Nuts (walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds)
- Food additives (sulfites, artificial colors, preservatives)
Unlike allergies, intolerances, and senstivities, celiac disease is a lifelong, genetic autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks itself.
When a person with celiac disease ingests gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) the immune system reacts by mounting an attack against the body’s own healthy cells, damaging the villi lining the small intestine. If this continues overtime, many celiacs experience the effects of malabsorption as the villi are unable to send nutrients into the bloodstream.
There are over 200 symptoms of celiac disease. The most widely experienced include fatigue, cognitive problems like brain fog, neurological problems like severe headaches, and digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, abdominal pain, and nausea and vomiting, Many people with celiac disease experience kaleidoscope of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, joint pain, numbness and tingling, that result in misdiagnoses and a challenging path to relief.
Celiac disease can be life-threatening if left untreated, and include intestinal, neurological, and cognitive damage and the development of additional autoimmune conditions. Currently, around 1.4% of the global population lives with celiac disease
If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, this might be due to a food intolerance and a food intolerance Scan might be a helpful tool in restoring and rebalancing your health. Glory Edward Food intolerance Scan – Vivo Nutrients