What is the difference between food allergies and food intolerances?
An allergy is considered to be an inappropriate immune response to what would normally be a harmless food or environmental substance.
Allergy responses can be mild eg watery eyes in response to pollen or extreme which is what happens in anaphylaxis reactions. With anaphylaxis the response can be so extreme that urgent medical attention is required and epi pens need to be used, as it can be life threatening.
Allergy symptoms can be many and varied and can affect any organ in the body.
In many instances symptoms are caused by the release of histamine from immune cells in response to a perceived allergen. This is why many people take anti histamines to counter the side effects of some allergies.
There are two main antibody responses with allergies
- IgE responses are quick responses and usually symptoms occur immediately or within an hour or two. Responses can include sneezing, pain ,indigestion, reflux ,body aches and headaches
- IgG immune responses are slower and can take up to 72 hours to show symptoms. This is why IgG allergy responses can be hard to pin point and often the symptoms are not recognised as allergy. Symptoms can be the same as for IgE reactions but occur so much later. Headaches can be common as can fatigue.
Food Intolerance and Food Sensitivity
These can occur because the digestive system isn’t processing food properly. It maybe because of an enzyme deficiency or an imbalance in flora. It can be caused by toxins in the system and stress in the body.
So the issue is more about the health and efficiency of the digestive tract rather than the foods themselves.
Food intolerances can escalate and often can lead to Microbiome hypersensitivity where the body reacts to more and more foods.
Intolerances can also be caused by bacteria and yeast imbalance in the large bowel and also in the small intestine.
In Small Bacterial Overgrowth ( SIBO) bacteria can feed off certain foods causing symptoms such as pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. Cutting out certain foods can temporarily resolve some of the symptoms but eventually the bacteria adjust and gut symptoms can return.
Testing for Food Allergies
There are Functional tests available that can test for IgE and IgG reactions to foods and environmental chemicals.
The benefit of these types of tests is that you can find the often illusive slow reacting IgG reactions as well as the fast acting reactive foods
Often IgG reactions respond well to eliminating the food out of the diet for a few months and then reintroducing it in small amounts .Often these allergies occur because of eating too much of a certain food group and yet the body is often fine after a break and with less of that food in the diet.
The main disadvantage with IgG and IgE testing is you have to have been consuming the food to be able to get an immune response. So if you have been purposely avoiding a food then it won’t show on this kind of test.
There is another form of allergy testing that looks at the white cell reaction to foods and doesn’t rely on you having to have eaten the suspected foods. Its not considered an allergy test and it doesn’t test for slow reacting allergens such as IgG .It is more focused around IgE reactions to substances .
This can be an option for those of you who don’t want to eat certain suspect foods before doing an allergy test
Gene Testing for Foods
AMY 1 gene profile tests your body’s ability to process starch from carbohydrate. Knowing your AMY 1 gene variation can allow you to make better decisions around the amounts of carbohydrate and starch your body can process and the health implications associated with the different gene variants.
Food Choice genetic profile tests 5 crucial foods that impact on your health in so many ways.
Do you think you are susceptible to Coeliacs disease?
Do you suspect you are lactose intolerant?
The Food choice Genetic profile tests
- Coeliacs disease risk
- Lactose Intolerance
- Alcohol Intolerance
- Caffeine Sensitivity
- Salt sensitivity
The test shows levels of susceptibility and gives personalised information on how to manage your genetic predisposition to the likelihood of the genes expressing.
Health and Wellbeing Profile tests many genes associated with chronic disease risk but it also includes genes associated with diet and your tolerance to fats and protein.
Your genes tell you how much protein and fat is right for you for optimal weight and wellness.
While testing the microbiome isn’t a food allergy test we now know the state of the gut is responsible for how your body responds to food and also environmental substances and so much more. Knowing levels of digestive enzymes, markers of inflammation and species of bacteria good and bad, yeasts etc helps you understand your response to food and also how your immune system is responding to the gut environment
Most of the immune system of the body resides in the gut so having a healthy Gi Tract influences our health and longevity in many ways.
The microbiota can influence whether an immune system is strong, weak or over reactive.
We are all uniquely different and so fortunate to live in an age where gene technology and functional medicine testing is available for us to improve our health and longevity.