What are Food Sensitivities?
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 armed forces— the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and so forth. Meaning, we have different responders to different threats.
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. Sensitivities, on the other hand, 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.
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.
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!
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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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