What Is A Food Sensitivity?
It’s a common mistake to confuse a food allergy with a food sensitivity or autoimmune food response. In this post I’ll attempt to break down the three diet-induced inflammatory interactions and provide you with the top 5 food sensitivities based on my experience looking at hundreds of blood tests.
A food sensitivity primarily includes Type III and Type IV immune mediated reactions to foods and affects roughly 30-40% of the population. Contrast this to Food Allergies which affect only about 4-6% of the population and finally autoimmunity towards food which affects 3-5% of the population.
Food allergies involve an anaphylactic response with near immediate symptoms including nausea, vomiting, hives and swelling. Food sensitivities, which as mentioned affect far more people, can take up to 72 hours to elicit symptoms and can manifest in nearly any area or system of the body ranging from digestive irritation (diarrhea, constipation etc.) to neurological inflammatory responses (depression, anxiety, migraines etc.).
The final category of food reaction involves a response to attack the body tissues with immune cells of which includes the condition of Celiac Disease.
While a blood test like the Mediator Release Test that is included in 2 of my Health Coaching programs is the best way to identify food sensitivities, there are some common food sensitivities that you can try to simply eliminate for a period of 60 days while monitoring your main health complaints to see if there is any improvement.
Conditions Related To Food Sensitivities
Subclinical Symptoms of Food Sensitivities
Below are the top 5 foods that I've seen clients reacting to in my practice and the ones that can easily be eliminated without having to spend a dime on any testing:
#1 : Wheat
As with many of these most common food sensitivities wheat is commonly reactive at least in part to its prevalence within the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) It is the protein portions of all of these foods that triggers the immune mediated response resulting in inflammation in the body’s tissues. The most well-known of these proteins is Gluten but there are other proteins present to which one could be reacting. Additionally because wheat is such a large part of most diets (think cereals, breads, pastries, thickeners, soy sauce etc.) one can also develop cross-reactivity with other foods as the immune system broadens its response. This leads us to the second most common food sensitivity of dairy.
#2 : Dairy
Dairy is a very common food sensitivity and again it is the protein portion of the dairy that our immune systems may be responding. Specifically whey and casein are the main proteins and can be found to varying degrees in different types of dairy with butter for instance having virtually no whey but containing casein. A food sensitivity to dairy shouldn’t be confused with an intolerance to dairy which involves inadequate enzyme activity in digesting the sugar component of dairy known as lactose. Some people may have an intolerance to lactose but have no issues with their immune system responding to the casein or whey and simply by switching to raw dairy and using some added enzymes can consume dairy completely symptom free.
#3 : Soy
Once again the S.A.D. Diet rears its ugly head with this extremely damaging mono-crop that along with corn, wheat and mass farming practices has also managed to destroy our soil. The more that you consume a food the increased likelihood that you will develop a sensitivity to that food. This is known as a loss of oral tolerance and is amplified by other factors which either irritate or suppress immune function. Soy is a food that is found in nearly every single processed food you can find at a grocery or convenience store. It’s hidden in such ingredients as soy lecithin (a thickener), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrolyzed plant protein, textured vegetable protein, soy sauce and so on. Soy is one that I see on probably 70% of blood test results in clients who have active health complaints and especially those with autoimmune conditions.
#4 : Corn
Corn is another hidden ingredient found in countless forms in processed foods. Here is a list of some of the common sources of corn: corn syrup, HFCS, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrin, corn flour, corn starch, hydrolyzed corn, vegetable oil, corn meal and even in some medications. As is the case with all of these commonly reactive foods the reactions are not limited to one system of your body and can affect neurological tissue, intestinal tissues, and connective tissues just to name a few. In practice I have seen fewer blood test results showing a response to corn than I have to soy and dairy but without doing a blood test I would recommend trying to just them all out for a period and then add them back in one at a time.
#5 : Eggs
The final food that I recommend eliminating to see if it is contributing to your health complaints are eggs. Eggs are also found in processed foods but not to the degree of corn and soy. Eggs are used in breads and baked goods, cookies, some protein bars and powders to name a few. Eggs is probably the easier of these to keep out but still requires paying close attention to what you are putting in your body.
How To Eliminate
If you suspect you may have a food sensitivity then you can get started right away on trying an elimination diet by removing these top 5 reactive foods. Begin by making a list of your main health complaints and ranking them in terms of their severity from 1-10. Keep that list accessible so you can monitor and track changes in those symptoms as you keep the foods out. Now for 60 days keep each of these foods out completely without fail. Most likely you will not be able to eat out at restaurants during this period of time unless you know for certain the ingredients that are used. Given the power of the internet search (use www.duckduckgo.com and not G@@Gle) you can easily find recipes that are free of each of these ingredients.
After the end of the 60 days, rate your health complaints again and then choose one of the foods you would like to test first by adding it back in and keeping out the others. Wait for 72 hours to monitor for any reactions before adding in the next of the 5 foods. If you still have a reaction to one or more of the foods then keep it out for another 30 days. Food sensitivities are not a lifetime thing but do require some healing of the gut and immune system to overcome.
Come back to this blog after 60 days and let me know what you discovered!
Danny Maresca considers himself a philosopher, scientist and teacher but most of all a humble explorer of this reality. This blog covers topics he finds fascinating as they relate to his own interpretation of his own experience of life. He hopes that you will find value in what you read but openly invites deeper and different perspectives to his own.