Food allergy, food sensitivity or food intolerance?
Food allergies are a severe hyper-reaction of the immune system caused by a massive release of histamine and other chemical mediators from certain types of white blood cells called mast cells and basophiles. Food allergies only affect 1-2% of the population. People suffering from a food allergy can usually identify what foods they are allergic to without testing because the reaction will occur every time and shortly after eating the allergic food.
Food sensitivities are delayed food allergies that manifest themselves in many different ways and can affect any organ system of the body. They can take anywhere from, say 45 minutes to 72 hours for symptoms to become apparent. This delayed onset of symptoms makes it virtually impossible to correctly identify the culprits without the proper lab tests and thus often go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.
Food sensitivities cause the immune system to react to foods and cause the release of chemicals called mediators. Examples of these are cytokines, histamine (think runny nose and watery eyes), and prostaglandins (Dr. Barry Sears of “The Zone Diet” fame talks about this at length) from white blood cells. It is these mediators that end up causing inflammation, pain, and a whole host of symptoms that come with food sensitivities. Now, the thing that makes food sensitivities complicated is that there are numerous ways our immune system can respond. Because there are different ways it responds, there are different ways researchers have tried to identify reactive foods, food additives, and chemicals.
The most reliable ones seem to be the Signet MRT test and the ELISA test. I can go on about these two but for now I would suggest that you Google both of them, do some research on each, and then resubmit with questions.
Food intolerances can be similar to food sensitivities except they do not involve the immune system. Instead, the questionable food is not properly digested and then begins to ferment inside the gut. The most common example of food intolerance is lactose intolerance.
Eating the same foods day in and day out *can* lead to food sensitivities. I personally did this with red meat and as such I am now going without for a few months to hopefully restore some balance within my body and then I will try it again and re-assess. If you have developed food sensitivities from eating too much of the same foods then it would be advisable to go without them for at least 30 days and then reintroduce them slowly and observe the results. For additional information on what to look for when observing these results please refer to “The Pulse Test” document of the Elitefts.com Metabolic Typing diet documents package.
In my practice I find that many people are sensitive to eggs; and I am one of them. Therefore, I only have them on occasion.
I know there is a lot of information that might be relatively new to you in this “article” so please take your time in reading it, do some additional independent research with the thoughts that spur from my reply, and then email me with your questions.
By Eric Talmant for CriticalBench.com