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Understanding Food Sensitivities

Posted by Tracii H.

Food sensitivities are a commonly misunderstood topic. What are food sensitivities? Are they the same as food allergies? Can a person develop a sensitivity after eating something for years with no trouble? What happens when you eat something to which you’re sensitive?Food sensitivities are much like true food allergies in many ways: both involve an immune system reaction to a harmless protein, both develop after repeated exposure to a food, and neither can be controlled using typical antihistamines or other allergy medications. But there are also many key differences between the two. A true food allergy can be a life-threatening, instant event that takes place immediately and causes anaphylaxis, throat swelling, and other serious problems that require immediate medical attention, whereas food sensitivities are delayed reactions that can show up as long as 4 days after ingesting the offending food. Sensitivities are known to cause less serious problems, like constipation, skin rash, congestion, fatigue, and headache. The differences are due to different immune system component involvement: food allergies are IgE moderated, whereas sensitivities are IgG driven and are more difficult to detect due to the delayed symptoms.As for the development of food sensitivities, they can only occur after repeated exposure to a substance, not upon initial contact. This is because the immune system must “recognize” the substance from past exposure in order to even recognize it as good or bad. Food sensitivities are yet another reason why a highly varied diet is so important: eat the same thing daily and you’ll most likely develop a sensitivity to it. Food sensitivities can be elusive: the many symptoms caused by them can be confusing,especially because of the amount of time it takes for them to occur after eating something. Symptoms of food sensitivity can include but are not limited to:***acne, especially around the mouth and chin***headache***digestive symptoms: diarrhea, constipation, cramping, bloating, and gas***anxiety and depression***food cravings, addiction, and obesity***joint swelling, as in rheumatoid arthritis***eczema, skin rashes, and hives***fatigue, foggy thinking, and memory problems***sensitivity to light, red eyes, and dizziness
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