A food intolerance, or sensitivity, has an effect on everyone at some point in their lives. Many times, an individual will have a reaction to something they ate and may wonder if they have a food allergy.
In fact, 1 out of three people claim they have a food allergy and will even modify the family diet because they suspect that a particular family member has an allergy.
However, the truth is that only about 5 percent of children have an allergic reaction to foods that have been clinically proven. In addition, when it comes to adults and teens, only about 4 percent of the population are affected with a food allergy.
The reason that people often confuse food sensitivity with food allergy is that they often have the very same signs and symptoms.
However, true food allergies cause your body to experience an immune response that has an effect on several organs in your body.
In fact, a true food allergy can be fatal. On the other hand, a food sensitivity is typically limited to digestive issues and is usually much less serious.
If you have a food sensitivity, chances are that you will be able to consume very small amounts of the food without experiencing any problems.
You may even be able to effectively prevent a reaction from occurring. For example, if you experience intolerance to lactose, you may be able to consume milk that is lactose free or even take lactase enzyme pills to help your body digest the lactose.
Causes of Food Sensitivity
Some of the causes of food intolerance/sensitivity include the following:
– Your body doesn’t have sufficient amounts of a particular enzyme required to fully digest a particular food.
– Irritable bowel syndrome: this is a chronic condition that is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and cramping.
– Food poisoning: toxins in food, such as bacteria in food that has spoiled, can result in severe symptoms affecting your digestive system.
– Sensitivity to particular additives: often, sulfites in wine, preserved fruits, and canned goods can result in asthma attacks and other symptoms in those who are sensitive to it.
– Psychological factors: this can be due to recurring stress or other psychological problems- the thought of food may make you nauseous, but the reasons behind this are not completely clear.
– Celiac disease: the condition of celiac has a few of the features of a true food allergy because the immune system is involved.
On the other hand, the symptoms of celiac disease are primarily gastrointestinal. Individuals with a food allergy are at risk for anaphylaxis.
The main trigger for a celiac disease flare up is gluten, which is a protein that is found in wheat and grains.
If you do experience a reaction after consuming a certain food, it’s a good idea to speak with your physician to find out if you have a true food allergy or if there is something else going on.
Keep in mind that if you do have a true food allergy, you could possibly be at risk of a fatal allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, even if your reactions in the past have been fairly mild.
You must learn the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and understand how to respond if one does occur. You may be required to carry an emergency epinephrine shot just in case.
On the other hand, if you have a food sensitivity, your physician will be likely to recommend certain steps to aid your body in digestion or even treat what is causing you to have the reaction.
Fibromyalgia and Food Sensitivity
There are many signs and symptoms that characterize the condition of fibromyalgia, but food sensitivity is not really one of them.
However, there are often conditions that co-occur with the condition of fibromyalgia including celiac disease and others that are characterized by food sensitivity.
If you have the condition of fibromyalgia and you do experience food sensitivities, speak with your physician about what you can do to help yourself.
Treating Food Sensitivity
Keep in mind that if you have a food allergy, the best thing you can do is to remove that particular item from your diet. You may still need to carry an epinephrine pen in case of accidental exposure.
On the other hand, there are some things you can do to treat food sensitivity- which can also work for food allergy.
– Find your triggers. For a period of two weeks, you should track everything you’re eating and drinking. Track what you eat, how much, how it was prepared, and any signs and symptoms you feel.
– Eliminate foods from your diet. If you notice a pattern, you can start to eliminate some of the common foods from your diet. You will eliminate one at a time for a period of 2 to 6 weeks. Track which ones you have eliminated and whether or not the symptoms improved.
– If the intolerance or allergy is severe, you should take steps to avoid them completely. On the other hand, if they are mild to moderate, you can reintroduce the foods to your diet and confirm the triggers.
You will do this by adding each of the trigger foods into your diet one at a time. If you experience another reaction, you should eliminate it.
Before reintroducing a new food, you should be sure that you have been free of symptoms for at least 2 days.
– Boost low stomach acid. Often, low production of hydrochloric acid could present as an allergic reaction to particular foods. This is because when you do not have enough acid to break your food down, the “foreign” molecules get into your bloodstream and trigger a reaction.
You can boost production of stomach acid by taking a supplement, which you can find at your local health food store. You may want to speak with your physician before you start taking these.
– Once you have identified your triggers and eliminated them, you may want to rotate your plate. This means that you rotate those foods that you are able to eat so that you don’t consume one particular item too much.
You should be sure to include condiments, oils, and beverages in this rotation. By rotating foods, you prevent overexposure to them which decreases your sensitivity to them and reduces your risk for developing symptoms of food allergy or sensitivity.