Shades Of An Epidemic

A life-threatening reaction to shellfish lands one person in the hospital, while another one suffers from severe migraines unable to fathom what could possibly be the cause. We have an epidemic of food allergies, sensitivity and intolerance in the world today. Most of us get confused between these three un-able to tell the difference. With food related conditions on the rise today, it is very important to understand what makes them unique and the different dietary treatments required.

A food allergy can be life threatening and occurs when a person’s body reacts to a harmless substance with an overactive immune response. First exposure to the food causes the body’s immune system to produce antibodies called immunoglobin E (IgE) specific to the allergen. Repeated exposure causes the allergen to bind to the IgE antibodies initiating a more aggressive response. The reaction is immediate and severe. Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk and sugar are the most common types of allergens. Symptoms range between sneezing, itchy swollen lips, runny nose, diarrhea to a more severe reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can cause problems with your breathing and heart. These allergies can develop at any point in your life, which is why it is very important to identify your allergens and make sure you do not consume them in any form.

Food sensitivity on the other hand produces delayed symptoms which is why it often gets difficult to pinpoint which foods are actually causing the reactions. It produces antibodies like IgG and IgA. Symptoms can be delayed up to 72 hours and can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. However, sensitivity issues can be resolved over time if you remove the problematic food and give your gut a chance to heal. Due to its delayed reaction, pinpointing which food is the culprit is often difficult. There are various factors responsible for the development of food sensitivity, leaky gut or intestinal hyper permeability being the main one. In this condition the tight junctions of the gut lining   become large and permeable causing undigested particles of food and toxins to pass through into the bloodstream. This causes the immune system to over react and produce anti bodies. It could also be the result of imbalances in the gut microbiome, chronic stress, pollution, pesticides, chemicals and preservatives in our food. Repeated exposure, which results in chronic inflammation, can damage brain tissues, joints and different organs. Digestive problems like IBS are common with food sensitivity.  Physical manifestations of food sensitivity include dark circles, water retention, sinus, constipation, rashes, and joint pain. Neurological symptoms include migraines, memory problems, mood swings, depression, and cravings. It can lead to conditions like obesity, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and autoimmune diseases to name a few,  


Food intolerance and sensitivity can produce similar symptoms but in the case of intolerance the body does not produce enough of the enzymes required to digest the food. Again, symptoms include migraines, coughing, gut issues including bloating and gas. 

Dairy and gluten are the most common example of food intolerance. People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase to be able to digest milk. To get over a food intolerance you would need to cut it out from your diet and take the necessary steps required to improve your enzyme levels.

To heal from food sensitivities in particular you can:

  • Increase stomach acid using supplements. Stomach acid is essential for digestion. Contrary to popular belief most people have too little stomach acid. 
  • Get tested and treated for intestinal pathogens.
  • Eat sauerkraut and other fermented foods or take a probiotic to reestablish your gut flora.
  • Eat fermentable fiber, as prebiotics, which can be even more effective than probiotics.
  • Drink a cup of bone broth every day.  The gelatin, glycine, and glutamine are all healing for the gut. 



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