Food Sensitivity Vs. Food Allergy Vs. Food Intolerance
There are a lot of terms in regards to food issues and it’s easy to get confused, especially since food allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances often present similar symptoms and there is a general lack of accurate information. The key difference is how your body reacts once a trigger food is encountered.
Food intolerance happens when you lack an enzyme needed to break down a certain food, triggering a digestive response. An example of this would be those with lactose intolerance, meaning they lack sufficient quantities of the enzyme lactase to break down the sugars in the milk, resulting in gastrointestinal trouble. Intolerances commonly run in families.
For both allergies and sensitivities, your body may produce certain classes of antibodies to triggering substances.
A food allergy prompts the production of IgE.
- IgE is an immediate response antibody associated with fatal anaphylactic food allergies, like a peanut or shellfish allergy (allergists specialize in testing for IgE food allergies).
A food sensitivity may result in the production of IgG.
- IgG antibodies are delayed response antibodies and result from exposure to a food sensitivity. IgG food sensitivities are non-fatal but reactions and symptoms can last up to three weeks after exposure. That means that you are unlikely to feel the reaction to the food at the time it is consumed. It is more likely to cause low-grade inflammation and symptoms over a few days and even long-term time if eaten consistently.
Testing for these two antibodies is the most definitive way to distinguish between an allergy and a sensitivity, and an IgG test offers more insights on what foods are making you chronically sick. A Revive specialist can order your test and submit to a specialty independent laboratory who will distinguish these reactions through reactions to your blood sample.
A few tell-tale signs to look for if you suspect your body is reacting poorly to a specific food:
- Abnormal Weight Gain
- Brain fog
- Dry and itchy skin
- Bloated stomach after eating
- Joint pain
- Depression and mood swings
- Runny nose
- Trouble sleeping
- Dark circles under eyes
The "Leaky Gut" Connection
The consistent presence of circulating IgG antibodies to foods may lead to increased likelihood of intestinal permeability, also referred to as "leaky gut syndrome." When the tight junctions forming the barrier in the gut don't work properly due to prolonged inflammation/food triggers, larger substances can "leak" through, causing an immune response. This immune response may result in the production of IgG antibodies to foods. There are multiple dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to increased intestinal permeability. These factors include alcohol, stress, chronic NSAID use, Western-type diet (high consumption of red meat, animal fat, high sugar, and low fiber food), and prolonged and strenuous exercise.