Ahhh food sensitivities, kind of a hot topic now-a-days and will most likely remain a topic of interest for years to come. Food sensitivities are not as straight forward as we would all like them to be. First off, we need to distinguish the difference between food sensitivities and food allergies.
To start, food allergies is the technical term for when we think of the classical peanut allergy response for example. If someone is exposed to peanuts and are allergic, they may have to pop antihistamines and steroids like its candy or use an EpiPen. I like to equate food allergies to the small dog on the block. The antibodies involved with the allergic response, the IgE’s and white blood cells called eosinophils are very small in size, and small in number. When those small dogs attack… their small dog complex’s kick in and they strike fast and furious! They are out to prove that small dogs can still cause damage! Symptoms are instant and can be dangerous: trouble breathing, swelling of the face, throat, chest or other areas of the body, and hives and other rashes. Of course, there is more to the allergic response, but that’s the gist of it for now.
Now, food sensitivities are caused by the other main types of antibodies, IgA, IgM, and IgG. These antibodies are bigger in numbers, far bigger! They know they are the big dogs on the block and the response is USUALLY not so prominent. Food sensitivity responses can take hours, up to 6-72 hours to show symptoms. Symptoms can be attention and focus problems, hyperactivity, learning issues, dizziness, headaches, and other bodily aches and pains. What we find at HML is that when kids have sensitivities they manifest more as neurological based problems such as contributing or causing attention issues. In adults we find that they will contribute or cause bodily aches and pains and problems along those lines.
On the note of sensitivity testing is gluten sensitivity (more to come in a later post) but it is worth touching on here. Gluten is a protein found in most grains. The gluten in America has been hybridized, not Genetically Modified (GMO), but hybridized. Both of these are not necessarily good; however, it has been hybridized to be stickier, and water soluble. This allows the “glu” in gluten to be used in all forms of food processing – supplement and drug capsules, basis for medications, fillers and additives to make our food look and taste better, the list goes on… The problem is that this modification is not what our genome has handled for as long as humans have been on the planet eating grains and we are not meant to eat it, or at the least make it the staple of our diets. The downlow of all of this is there are approximately 24 different gluten-based proteins. When you go to your doctor to test for gluten sensitivity, they will only test for 1-2 different gluten-based proteins which is incredibly incomplete.
At HML, we utilize the gold standard absolute best form of sensitivity testing. That is www.cyrexlabs.com. Not only do they test all gluten based proteins, but they look at all foods that cross react with gluten (more to come on that as well). They also look at all dairy proteins and all other everyday foods. Lastly, what is important is that they look at all antibody types of sensitivities (IgA, IgM, and IgG), and they look at cooked, and uncooked versions of the foods. Now with that last statement, you can guess that most other food sensitivity testing is incomplete, which it is. Most other labs offer only IgG, not IgA or IgM.
In a nutshell there is a difference between food allergies and sensitives. There are 3 different antibodies that cause food sensitivities. Treatment requires avoidance (temporary or lifelong) amongst other diet, lifestyle and supplement treatments. And lastly, gluten sensitivity requires a post all in of itself!