Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food Sensitivities

By: Sara Kidd, Naturopathic Doctor & Crystal Ceh, Naturopathic Doctor
Is it an allergy, an intolerance, a sensitivity and what does it all mean?
Food Allergy
A new definition of terms means that only an IgE reaction is considered a true food allergy. This is what most people associate with a food allergy – an anaphylactic reaction to a substance that we either eat or have contact with that results within minutes in hives, or swelling of tissues affecting our skin, our lungs or our digestive tract. The most prominent which comes to mind is a peanut allergy, which can be almost instantaneous and life threatening if not promptly treated.
Food Sensitivity
Food sensitivities tends to be IgG mediated, which means a delayed reaction to an offending substance. This can be difficult to pinpoint as symptoms often develop over hours to days after a substance is ingested, and can present many varied symptoms including general inflammation within the digestive tract that can result in a condition known as leaky gut. In leaky gut our defensive barrier in our digestive tract becomes permeable allowing substances which shouldn’t have access to our bloodstream to enter and accumulate, thereby causing reactions systemically. Through careful testing and tracking these substances can be identified and avoided for an improvement in overall health. An example of this is gluten sensitivity in which elevated levels of IgG and IgA are found in the bloodstream in reaction to gliadin – a protein found in wheat.
Food Intolerance
Food intolerance most commonly refers to a non-immune reaction to a substance. This is often a lack of a certain enzyme which allows one to digest certain foods, such as a lack of lactase resulting in lactose intolerance.
Why is this relevant to me?
Many of our foods come into contact with chemicals and pesticides which themselves can cause immune reactions, which is why it is so important to understand the origin of what you use. By choosing certified organic foods and products you are eliminating a potential source for allergy and sensitivity, which in the long run, can boost your family’s health. There are many options available to lessen the impact of sensitivities which can allow you to love food and enjoy your life.

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