Food sensitivities vs. food allergies vs. food intolerances
Food sensitivities are delayed IgG immune reactions that develop in hours to days and can cause a wide variety of different symptoms due to local & systemic inflammation including fatigue, bloating, migraines, digestive upset, nasal congestion, asthma and weight gain. In comparison, food allergies are immediate IgE immune reactions that develop within minutes, causing hives and anaphylaxis type symptoms. The best example of this is a peanut allergy.
Food intolerances are not an immune reaction like sensitivities and allergies are. Instead they are a lack of digestive enzyme required to break down a particular food. The most common example of this is lactose intolerance in which individuals lack the lactase enzyme to break down lactose.
How would I know if I had a food sensitivity?
Because food sensitivities are delayed and can cause such a wide variety of systemic symptoms, it is hard to pinpoint which food may have caused the reaction without investigating with your Naturopathic Doctor. The gold standard assessment tool is the elimination diet, requiring 3 weeks of elimination of the most common food offenders followed by a systematic re-introduction protocol.
Food sensitivities & leaky gut
Leaky gut is another word for intestinal permeability. It occurs when there is a disruption in the integrity of the gut lining. This leads to bacteria, toxins and undigested food proteins to leak into the blood stream also causing wide variety of systemic symptoms affecting your mood, thyroid, joints, skin, sinus, colon and adrenals.
Are athletes more susceptible?
Athletes may in fact be more susceptible to developing food sensitivities & leaky gut. This is because training actually stresses the immune system, leaving the body less able to process inflammatory mediated foods such as those that produce IgG antibody-antigen complex reactions. Food sensitivities can impact athletic performance. Inflammation slows down recovery, causes bloating, impact breathing, prevents nutrients from being absorbed and induces fatigue causing the body to need more rest.
What does treatment look like?
REMOVAL of causal factors (identified food sensitivities)
REPLACEMENT of digestive requirements (hydrochloric acid + digestive enzymes OR bitters)
REPAIR the gut lining (ginger, l-glutamine, zinc, DGL)
RE-INOCULATION of gut flora (probiotics with high amounts of Bifidobacterium longum BB536)
RE-BALANCE nervous system (promotion of parasympathetic “rest and digestion” system)
Dr. Mallory Harris, ND
* The information presented in this article is intended solely for educational purposes and is not medical advice. You must always speak with your health care provider before beginning or modifying any approach to managing your health including diet, vitamins, minerals and botanicals. In no event shall Dr. Mallory Harris, ND, ESM clinics or Balance Fitness be liable in any manner for direct, indirect, incidental or punitive consequences that may arise from the access or use of this article.