Many recognize that they have negative responses to foods but have difficulty understanding why they have the reactions or identifying the specific foods that cause the reactions. In an attempt to find answers, people will seek out various tests to confirm or disconfirm their suspicions so that they can create a plan to start feeling better. Before spending a lot of time and money on testing, however, it might be helpful to understand the different types of adverse food reactions.
- Intolerance to foods occur when the body lacks a particular enzyme to digest nutrients and the nutrient/food cannot be properly digested. For example, people can be intolerant to gluten and dairy. Intolerances do not involve the immune system. They are not dangerous, nor do they cause damage; but they can be uncomfortable in that they cause GI symptoms. People generally tend to avoid foods they are intolerant to. Some intolerances are tested through breath tests.
- Food sensitivities are an immune response to food. They are usually delayed and chronic in nature and can manifest through hundreds of different symptoms that eventually lead to a serious reduction in quality of life. They are not an allergy. It is exceptionally difficult to identify foods people are sensitive to because there are many variables such as delayed reactions, quantity and frequency of foods, and preparation methods. These are discovered through MRT testing and corrected through the LEAP protocol. People can have sensitivities to gluten and dairy. But with the right process, most people can eventually correct sensitivities, alleviate symptoms, and improve quality of life.
- Allergies are a very specific immune response involving the IgE or T-cells of the immune system in response to exposure to a particular protein, also known as an antigen. People can have an allergy to gluten or dairy proteins such as casein or whey. An allergic reaction is usually immediate and can be dangerous or even deadly. Some people outgrow childhood allergies, but for most, allergies are for life and require strict avoidance of the allergens. Allergy testing is done specifically with an allergist.
- Autoimmune food reactions occur when there is a disorder in the immune system in which the body attacks itself. Autoimmunity occurs when a person has a genetic predisposition to the disease, a trigger that facilitates onset, and environmental exposure to something that perpetuates the autoimmune response such as with celiac disease and gluten. Various blood, genetic, and other tests can be done to help discover autoimmune diseases.
People with known adverse food reactions can best put their time and resources into appropriate testing as they understand more about the various types. The right testing can lead to better solutions in a quicker time frame. For more information, contact Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT at A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC.