Food allergies affect about 7 percent of children and 1 percent of adults in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Food allergies develop with continued exposure to the food that your body thinks is harmful and are typically diagnosed in childhood. If you have not received a diagnosis or are not vigilant on eliminating the allergen from your diet, complications such as inflammation, weight gain, or weight loss may happen. A food intolerance, however, is much more common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, nearly everyone at some point has experienced a sensitivity to something they’ve eaten.
A Food Allergy
A food allergy is an immune system response that occurs when your body reacts adversely to a protein found in a specific food. Your body mistakes this protein as harmful and creates antibodies to fight it. The most common food allergens are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Common symptoms you may experience related to a food allergen can include, but are not limited to, unexplained rash on the body, stuffy or itchy nose, vomiting, stomach cramps, swelling, and throat tightness.
A Food Sensitivity or Intolerance
A food sensitivity or intolerance is a digestive response. The food may be irritating your digestive system or your body may not be able to properly digest the food. Corn products, cow’s milk and dairy, as well as wheat and other gluten-containing grains, are among the top reported food sensitivities. Lactose intolerance, or difficulty digesting the enzyme lactase, is the most common food intolerance, affecting about 10 percent of Americans. Symptoms of food sensitivity can be: nausea, stomach pain, cramps or bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, or general nervousness. Unfortunately, a food allergy may be confused with a food intolerance because the symptoms overlap, leading to unnecessary and potentially challenging dietary changes.
When it comes to addressing weight issues with patients, I have 3 main test that I go to. First, is a complete thyroid panel. Second, is saliva cortisol testing that is measured throughout the day. Third, is food sensitivity testing. I prefer running the top sensitivities over a panel of 100 plus foods with patients. A food allergen is an undigested protein, that your gut is reacting with, due to not having enough stomach acid to process it. This will lead to gut inflammation which may raise the bodies cortisol level. Increased cortisol levels will lead to glucose/insulin problems and ultimately weight gain. Losing weight generally is 90% diet and 10% exercise. I’ve had many patients lose weight just by eliminating their highest food sensitivities and nothing else. Down below, is an example of a patient that I would remove dairy out of their diet just based on their results. I’m not a fan of dairy in the diet for many reasons when it comes to weight problems, even if the patient doesn’t show high with it. But, I’ll save that for another blog. Some other testing I like will help rule out insulin resistance with other patients. (Glucose, A1C, lipid panel) Have you had your sensitivities check yet?