Lesson 1: Making Sense of Food Reactions

Making sense of food reactions

There are three main types of food reactions you will likely encounter: true food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerances. True food allergies involve the release of histamine. Food allergies range from mild to life-threatening.

food sensitivity

  • Food sensitivities involve the immune system too but are not true food allergies.
  • They are delayed, so reactions occur hours or even days after the offending food has been ingested, making identification tricky.
  • Food sensitivities are accumulative so you may be OK with consuming a small amount of the food but have problems when too much of it is consumed. 

food intolerance

Food intolerances, while often confused with food allergies and sensitivities, are unique. They do not involve the immune system and are usually due to the lack of certain digestive enzymes.

what causes us to react to foods?

There are numerous factors involved, such as genetics, gut microbiome, and the immune system. If you have severe or an unusually high number of food reactions, there may be an underlying root cause, and your doctor is not likely to explore it. If you have food sensitivities, this may go entirely overlooked because, so few doctors are trained to identify food sensitivities.

signs of food sensitivities or intolerance

  • Stomach problems such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation, gas, and heartburn
  • Unintentional fluctuation in weight
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, acne, skin dryness, rosacea, and so on.
  • Difficulty in digesting certain foods
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Autoimmune conditions

should you avoid foods you are reactive to?

If you have a true ‘allergy’ or true ‘gluten intolerance’ such as celiac, then yes.
Otherwise, repairing the gut is the best strategy as…

  • Strict food avoidance can make your immune system more sensitive
  • Strict food avoidance puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies
  • Strict food avoidance can disrupt the gut microbiome
  • Strict food avoidance is not sustainable