Food Sensitivity Test & Treatment in Chapel Hill, NC
Over 20 percent of people have had an adverse reaction after consuming a particular food. The term allergy is often used to describe all negative food reactions—whether the reaction is severe or subtle, immediate or delayed. However, when the reaction is delayed and the symptoms not as severe as most full-blown allergic reactions, a food intolerance or food sensitivity, rather than an allergy, is typically suspected.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Chapel Hill that specializes in food sensitivity treatment, call (919) 301-0841 or contact Dr. Bhavna Vaidya-Tank online.
Food Sensitivity vs. Food Allergy
There are considerable differences between food allergies and sensitivities. For instance, a true shellfish allergy can cause wheezing, swelling of the face and throat, cramps, diarrhea or even anaphylactic shock and death within hours or even minutes of consumption. A dairy intolerance, however uncomfortable, can also have a quick onset of symptoms—like diarrhea, cramping or gas—but it is not immediately life-threatening and can sometimes be treated with nothing more than digestive enzymes. Furthermore, some food sensitivities have no immediate symptoms and can go undetected for years. In fact, individuals with food sensitivities can sometimes go decades before recognizing a growing sensitivity to a certain food or substance like gluten, whereas a true wheat allergy can cause severe, immediate and life-threatening symptoms from the start.
The biggest difference, however, is that an allergy involves an immune reaction in which the body overproduces immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE), whereas a food sensitivity or intolerance triggers the production of a different antibody called Immunoglobulin G (IgG).
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. This is why it is so important to undergo a food intolerance test to uncover the root of digestive troubles.
Food allergies are caused by one factor: the food in question. Food sensitivities, however, may have contributing factors that influence sensitivity. For instance, your sensitivity to gluten may cause a more serious reaction due to various factors, including:
- How much you ate of the offending food (or if you overate in general, which can also impact your response)
- How stressed you are
- Whether the food contained additives, artificial preservatives, mold or environmental pollutants which may have exacerbated your immune system’s reaction
- Whether you are already sick (especially if your immune system has been compromised)
Food Sensitivity Symptoms
Food sensitivity symptoms and food intolerance reactions can include the following:
- Brain fog
- Skin breakouts or rashes (including eczema and psoriasis)
- Joint pain
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Mental irregularities like moodiness, restlessness, depression or lethargy
- Food cravings
- Acne or rosacea
- Chronic infections
- Sleep disturbances
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Digestive complaints like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation
Certain foods can function as natural opiates. There are morphine-like substances metabolized from foods containing wheat or dairy, and sometimes you may not have symptoms when you ingest the foods, but rather, when you stop. You can actually develop withdrawal symptoms from these types of foods, including craving the very foods for which you have an intolerance. Cravings can also come when you first consume problem foods and they do not digest properly, especially if you have what is called "leaky gut syndrome ." These undigested bits of food permeate your small intestine and enter your bloodstream. Immune system antibodies form an immune response, where enough antibodies are produced to not only address the presence of the irritating food, but also to anticipate future irritations. The excess of antibodies can create cravings for the very foods to which your body is experiencing a negative reaction.
Food sensitivities which continue to go unrecognized oftentimes feed into many common chronic health conditions—such as IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, chronic infections and leaky gut syndrome, among others—which often mask the root issue of food sensitivity or intolerance.
Food Intolerance Test
First, a reminder about the difference between a true food allergy vs. food intolerance or sensitivity: a true allergy is an IgE mediated immune response to certain proteins in certain foods, whereas a food sensitivity involves the IgG antibodies. People usually have no question about foods they are allergic to because their response is immediate or within the first few hours, and the reaction is usually severe, whereas food sensitivities may not be readily discernable and usually take 72 hours or more to manifest.
For food allergies, a skin prick test or blood test is normally used. In a skin prick test, the offending food is introduced and, if there is a reaction, the allergy is confirmed. For a reliable food intolerance test, an elimination diet is often employed to detect food sensitivities. Foods are eliminated, one at a time, with a period of lapse time between each elimination, to determine if symptoms are reduced as certain foods are eliminated. There are newer blood tests to detect food sensitivities, which you should discuss with your healthcare provider.
What to Expect in Your Food Sensitivity Treatment Options
After food intolerance testing, and a sensitivity is detected, your treatment options could include:
- Abstaining completely from the trigger food
- Gradual desensitization to the food in question
- Medication or supplementation (with probiotics or digestive enzymes)
- Healing an associated disorder (like leaky gut, imbalanced gut flora, enzyme-deficiency, etc.) and making attempts to reintroduce the food once underlying conditions have been addressed
If you believe you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance, schedule an appointment with an allergy and food intolerance specialist in Chapel Hill that can provide you food sensitivity treatment today. Call (919) 301-0841 or contact Dr. Bhavna Vaidya-Tank online.
Family Wellness Clinic & Regenesis MD
Address8020 Creedmoor Rd
Raleigh, NC 27613