You undoubtedly have heard the old adage, “you are what you eat.” Perhaps a better way of thinking about it might be, “what you eat makes you feel how you do.”
If you are allergic or sensitive to what you are eating, even if it is a perfectly healthy food, it might be causing a breakdown of the gut lining, systemic inflammation, poor nutrient absorption and immune system dysfunction.
Food allergies can be frustrating for both the patient and their medical providers. Patients often have sought relief from multiple providers and had extensive work ups but just cannot find the source of their suffering with such issues as chronic abdominal pain and bloating, poor digestion and persistent gastrointestinal distress.
Often, the problem is not even gastrointestinal. Food allergies also can manifest in chronic headaches and infections.
A patient might not respond to treatments for anxiety and/or depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or unexplained joint pains and muscle aches. Still, others report a persistent brain fog or struggle to get restful sleep.
There are two main types of antibodies that are usually tested in a panel of 75 to 100 common foods using a standard blood draw.
The first antibody, IgE, could cause a more classic allergic reaction and result in sudden and often noticeable symptoms like trouble swallowing or breathing but often cause only more mild issues like nausea, vomiting, hives, upset stomach, bloating or diarrhea.
The second type of antibody, IgG, considered to be more of a food sensitivity, often is subtle and might present in hours to even days. IgG reactions can manifest as headaches, digestive issues, skin issues, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains and stiffness, brain fog, depression, anxiety or immune system compromise.
Food sensitivity and allergy testing have improved tremendously in the past several years. Scientists are learning more about how the body reacts to different antigens. We don’t yet fully understand why some people react to certain foods and others don’t. We are learning how to interpret new types of testing to discover what foods an individual person could react to and how that reaction can manifest in many different and unusual ways.
Food allergies and sensitivities can lead to a multitude of symptoms that you might not automatically connect with the foods you are eating.
If you are suffering and have had trouble rooting out the cause, consider meeting with a provider who is comfortable with testing for, interpreting and treating complex food allergies and sensitivities. It is possible that “healthy food” you are eating could be negatively impacting your health.
Lawrence Hutchison, M.D., is a board-certified family physician. His experience ranges a broad spectrum including holistic healthcare, health optimization, nutrition, age management, sports medicine, pediatric/ adolescent and family care.