The terms “food allergies” and “food sensitivities” are often incorrectly used interchangeably. While they sound similar, they are actually quite different. There are two main different immune reactions that occur with a food allergy versus a food sensitivity. An allergy is caused by IgE immunoglobulins and are usually easy to pin point. Upon eating a certain food one would experience almost immediate reactions. Symptoms such as itching, redness, swelling, and difficulty breathing could all be a sign of a food allergy.
Sensitivities, caused by IgG immunoglobulins, on the other hand are not so obvious. Symptoms may take hours or days to develop after exposure because they are much more broad and discrete. Sensitivities can often go unnoticed and undiagnosed for years because many under the false assumption that “it’s normal”. Being in the mindset that “everyone feels this way”, “it’s part of aging”, or “there’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to deal with it” are all things I hear daily in my office. The truth is, food is supposed to nourish your body, not deteriorate it.
The symptoms that many of my patients have chalked up as “normal things they have to deal with” include: fatigue, brain fog, headaches, skin conditions (eczema, acne, psoriasis etc.) digestive issues (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn etc.), joint pain, frequent colds and infections, anxiety, and much more. Untreated, these sensitivities cause inflammation in the body that can lead to more troublesome, chronic health conditions such as autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, joint degeneration, etc.
This all may sound scary and daunting, but there is good news! Sensitivities CAN change. Since food sensitivities are typically caused by an imbalance in your immune system and disruptions in gut health, correcting these can decrease the inflammatory effect of these foods and allowing you to better tolerate them in your diet.