Updated: Apr 20
WHAT ARE FOOD SENSITIVITIES?
Food sensitivities. So common, and yet so misunderstood….
Could they be the cause of your anxiety and moodiness? Absolutely! Food sensitivities if left unchecked, can really put a damper on your overall health.
Since there's a lot of buzz about food sensitivities in the holistic health world, I will try to cut through the noise and give you some basic guidance on how to tackle this beast.
Food Sensitivities vs Food Allergies
Let’s start by understanding the difference between food sensitivities and food allergies.
A food sensitivity is a reaction from your immune system to a food you ate that is causing inflammation. Our immune system has different “branches”- I like to think of them just as we think of our military forces— the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and so forth. Meaning, we have different responders to different threats.
Food allergies are potentially life-threatening reactions to food that elicit an immune response in your body. Without getting too technical, a “true allergy” the one that causes you to have an anaphylactic shock, is mediated by Immunoglobulin E (IgE). It is a sudden and strong reaction immediately following the ingested substance.
Food Sensitivities, on the other hand, are related to the health of your gut. Or the "leakiness" of your gut lining that might be allowing undigested food particles to permeate your bloodstream (where is does not belong) causing a reaction. They are mediated mainly by immunoglobulins A and G. What gets tricky with them is that the reaction can be delayed, even a few days, making it hard for us to identify the culprits. I always think of that song “Killing Me Softly;” the damage is being done even though is not sending you to the hospital right now!
That being said, it is important to understand that food sensitivities are a symptom, not the problem. An adverse reaction to a food isn't normal, it's a piece of feedback from your body that something is off and its way of letting us know that we should dig deeper into digestive health and function.
Common symptoms of food sensitivities:
Fatigue after meals
Bloating & Gas
Weight loss resistance
Headaches & Migraines
Joint aches & pains
flushing or itchy skin
constipation or diarrhea
WHAT CAUSES FOOD SENSITIVITIES?
There are a number of different possible reasons for food sensitivities so let's dig into the Big 3:
1 Poor Digestion
When we don't make enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes, we don't break down our food properly (not chewing our food contribute to the problem as well— digestion starts in the mouth!) This leads to large food particles getting into the system and alerts our immune system of an intruder. The immune system will then respond with a reaction to that intruder. That’s why we could have sensitivity to healthy foods you would never imagine are the problem which makes it harder to figure out. Things like parsley, or an avocado…
Any food can lead to a poor reaction in the gut if our body isn’t breaking it down efficiently. A food sensitivity test can be performed to help you see if there are any foods that your body doesn’t break down efficiently.
What leads to poor digestion?
Stress/being in a stressed state too often. (when we are stressed, we are in “fight or flight” mode, which does not coexist with rest, digest & heal mode).
Overgrowth of pathogens, parasites, yeast and/or dysbiotic bacteria
Just to name a few!
2 Slow Metabolism
When I say metabolism, I'm talking about your body functioning on a cellular level. Is it able to use the energy from the food you're eating to generate heat, or are you frequently cold? That’s a clue! Is your digestion sluggish? Do you feel full or bloated after eating? Do you tend to have PMS and period problems? Do you struggle with acne? All of these can be signs of a slow metabolism, which will absolutely impact how you break down your food, but also how quickly it moves through your digestive tract. When your metabolism is slow, everything else slows down, too.
3 Overgrowth, Parasites, Pathogens
When we have less stomach acid and poor digestion, we tend to allow parasites and pathogens to get through and inhabit our GI tract. This changes the gut's environment and can lead to low beneficial bacteria (since it's harder for them to survive,) an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and eventually yeast. When we have more “bad bacteria” versus “good bacteria” in the gut our immune system gets compromised, the lining of the gut gets permeable and that is when large food particles and other toxic substances leach into our bloodstream and trouble occurs. This can lead to more dysfunction and likely, more reactions to food. If not addressed, you are in for a rabbit role of trouble.
IDENTIFYING FOOD SENSITIVITIES
The tricky thing about food sensitivities is identifying that you're dealing with them.
Symptoms of a food sensitivity are very non-specific. Meaning they can show up as non-gut related symptoms, such as headaches or skin stuff, and can occur
anywhere from immediately after consuming the offending food to days later, making it difficult to identify the culprits.
The first step to identifying foods you are sensitive to is by paying attention to how you feel and keeping tabs by logging into a journal. (or notes on our phone)
In this journal, you'll write down everything you eat each day, how you feel and any symptoms you may have after each meal.
Yes, boring and not sexy at all, nonetheless it's the quickest and most cost-effective way to identify any big sensitivities.
Food journaling works well for obvious sensitivities like gluten or dairy, but it won't be too effective if you're sensitive to some obscure food like coriander.
And that's where food sensitivity testing comes in.
I'm a huge fan of Vibrant Wellness Zoomer tests. Where we can be very specific and get detailed information that can really speed up the healing process.
The results will show if you're highly sensitive, moderately sensitive or non-reactive to some foods.
Therefore, pay attention to what you are eating and how your body reacts to it. It could be a clue to underlying issues you may want to investigate!
You can download my Food Symptoms Log Journal to help you identify some of the foods that can be stressing your body out.
If you feel that you need some individual attention feel free to apply for a complimentary Discovery Call to see how can I help you!
Apply for a 30 minute complimentary Discovery Call Here.
Isabela Fortes is a
Board Certified Holistic Health Expert, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher Level II
Certified Yoga Therapist
She teaches and work with clients in Southern California and Virtually anywhere in the world.
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