Having a hard time putting your finger on what the cause of your digestion issues are? Is your bloating worse at the end of the day, when you go out to eat, or after meals? WHAT you eat may be contributing to how you feel - and it might not just be effecting your digestion.
How can the food we eat cause us symptoms?
The immune system's job is to defend the body against potentially harmful organisms. One of the ways it does this is by producing cells called immunoglobulins. Below we will discuss the immunoglobulins IgE and IgG, that can cause food allergy or sensitivity reactions. Let's first tease out the difference between these and food intolerance.
Food Allergy: an immediate reaction triggered by IgE. This is your typical allergic reaction which usually occurs within minutes of exposure. Common symptoms include: itchy/watery eyes, rash and more severely, breathing difficulties. Eg/ Peanut allergy causing anaphylaxis
Food Sensitivity: delayed immune reactions, often, but not always, triggered by IgG. It may take hours or days to develop this reaction, which can make it difficult to decipher what food is responsible for those symptoms. The symptoms may also be nonspecific (listed below) which can be a challenge when seeking for the root cause and WHY you are having those symptoms in the first place. Eg/ Wheat sensitivity causing bloating
Food Intolerance: non-immune reaction. This characterizes disturbances caused by enzyme deficiencies. Eg/ Lactose intolerant - deficient in the enzyme lactase used to digest milk
Here we will focus on food sensitivities and that IgG reaction, where these antibodies attach themselves to the food antigen perceived as "foreign". This signals our immune system to remove them. If this can't be done efficiently, inflammation may occur which may contribute to many different symptoms.
Symptoms that may be associated with food sensitivities:
- Diarrhea or Constipation
- Indigestion or Heartburn
- Skin conditions (eg/ Eczema)
- Joint pain
Where to start?
Again that goes back to my philosophy of treat every person as an individual. What are the specific symptoms you are struggling with? It is important to rule out other, potentially more serious causes initially. Once that is done, we will look at the next most likely reason that could be contributing to your symptoms.
How to determine if you have food sensitivities?
1. Elimination Diet:
This is the gold standard for determining food sensitivities. Why? Because it gives us real-life feedback: if you eliminate a certain food that was the cause of your symptoms, your symptoms will resolve. Voila! However it's not always so easy...
How will I know what to eat?
We will consider what the most common food sensitivities are that may be contributing to your issue, and from there, create a program just for you. We work with you to emphasize not what you can't have, but what you CAN have. Included in this is a well-balanced meal plan, including grocery lists, and recipes.
Will my diet become too restrictive?
We work with you to find the right fit for you at this point in time. We also work to ensure you are still getting proper nutrients if you are undergoing diet changes and restricting food groups for a specific period of time. We also monitor your condition and the timeline. It is important we don't restrict certain food groups from our diet for too long without a good reason for doing so.
What if I don't have time?
There is an alternative to doing an elimination of potential food allergens, and that involves a lab test. This is a great option if doing food removal is just not feasible for you or your family, or you have already done this and you still cannot put your finger on what is causing the symptoms.
2. IgG Lab Test:
What do you get with testing?
An individualized report of your reaction to +120 different foods. We then provide a comprehensive review of your results and create a diet plan appropriate for you and continuously monitor symptoms. We set appropriate timelines and monitor progress to help determine our long term treatment plan.
Which option is better?
While there has been controversy regarding this test, it is important to remember that an Elimination Diet is still the gold standard for determining food sensitivities. However for some, this restrictive diet is not feasible or appropriate. In these cases, lab testing can be beneficial in determining the root cause of their symptoms, and guiding diet choices and treatment without doing a complete elimination diet.
Will I have to eliminate everything I love?
Again, this is so individual, and it depends if what you love, loves you back! For those who fear that eliminating food groups may be too restrictive, it is important to work with your Naturopathic Doctor to ensure proper dietary needs are still met, and what alternative choices there are. Any food elimination should be done in a timely manner and appropriate for that person's individual needs depending on their age and health status.
If you have more questions or are wondering if this is right of you, book a complimentary 15 minute meet and greet to further discuss your options.
"Is it a food allergy or a food sensitivity?" Food Reactions & Immunology. Rocky Mountain Analytical. 2018.
"IgG Food Sensitivity". Food Reactions & Immunology. Rocky Mountain Analytical. 2018.