Why do I have Food Sensitivities?
ByKatarina Meister, ND •July 19, 2023
Recently I had a patient ask a great question… “Why do I have food sensitivities?” To help answer this question, we must first go back to the basics of what food sensitivities are, learn about the risk factors, and then discuss how we can heal from them.
Food sensitivities are delayed onset food reactions that usually do not show up on an Allergy (IgE) skin prick test. Food sensitivity reactions are not associated with anaphylaxis- they are much milder and delayed. These reactions are immune-mediated and can appear anywhere from hours up to 3 days and last as long as 3 weeks after ingestion of the food. It is estimated that over 60% of the population has some degree of an IgG food sensitivity.
Here are some risk factors to consider for food sensitivities:
- Dysbiosis (bacteria, parasite, or yeast overgrowth in the gut) and leaky gut. Read more about healing a leaky gut here – also check out how to Heal and Seal a Leaky Gut
- Formula-fed as an infant: breast fed babies not only have immune factors delivered via breast milk, but breast feeding also introduces friendly bacteria to create a baby’s microbiome.
- Lack of food rotation: The gut LOVES diversity. Eating the same thing every day does not allow for different microbes to properly thrive.
- Food additives & GMO Foods: Our food is FAR beyond recognition and very processed. You may often react to restaurant prepared food but not to homemade versions of similar food due to food additives and processed seed oils. Food additive examples include MSG, dyes, coloring, emulsifiers (gums, and lecithin), and preservatives (nitrites). Here is a full list from the FDA of all food additives that may be in your food.
- Medications: Specifically, antibiotics. After a course of antibiotics, the bacterial composition of the gut never returns to its initial composition, and it can take a few years to replenish a normal gut microbiome afterwards.
- Stress: Our state of mind, whether relaxed or stressed, directly impacts our gut.Stress also depletes L-Glutamine, an important amino acid for maintaining your gut barrier which can predispose you to a leaky gut.
Below is a list of some food sensitivity reactions:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms or discomfort (pain, diarrhea, gas, nausea)
- Skin itchiness rash or redness
- Muscle, joint, or back pain
- Fatigue or brain fog
- Difficulty in concentrating and organizing thoughts
- Moodiness or behavior extremes
- Nasal congestion or throat clearing
Who should be evaluated for food sensitivities? If you have any of the following below, consider talking to your doctor about a food sensitivity test.
- Migraines and/or headaches
- Gastrointestinal disorders (IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Oral Allergy Syndrome)
- Respiratory Disorders (asthma, rhinitis)
- Recurrent ear infections
- Difficult weight loss
- Skin disorders (rashes, eczema, psoriasis)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Autoimmune disorders (lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Depression and anxiety
- How to detect food sensitivities?
While the gold standard of finding a food sensitivity is an elimination diet, it can be very laborious and can take months when done properly. While this is a great avenue for some, it can be difficult to implement and is not the only option. We can also test for food sensitivities with a blood test. Most people are not able to recall foods that they ingested 3 days prior, and some are unable to find a cause-effect relationship between specific foods that are causing symptoms. Food sensitivity testing can provide further insight to a person’s intestinal barrier and help to identify leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability.
How do we heal from food sensitivities?
If food sensitivities are identified the next step is to remove them from your diet so that the intestinal lining has a chance to rebuild and heal. We can support this natural healing process with herbs, nutrients, stress reduction, and most importantly nutritional changes. This process can take time, but the benefits of living a healthier life, with less symptoms are a win!
Here are some key tips to rebuilding your gut, that you can start today!
Eat with the seasons! Summer is a great time to enjoy your local CSA or shop farmers markets. If you are interested in joining a CSA, check out Farm Happy Jackson, we are a pick-up location for them. They have great information on their website about how to get the best out of your produce you buy weekly.
Eat plenty of Fiber! Learn about the wonders of Fiber, and Why Fiber is your friend here.
Eat Fermented Foods – Read about the best fermented foods to eat daily here.
The Golden Spice – Turmeric: a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that helps to improve intestinal barrier function. It is a great addition to roasted veggies, as a tea, or try a golden milk latte!
Drink Bone broth regularly: rich in L-glutamine, an amino acid, which is essential for reducing intestinal inflammation and helps aid recovery from food sensitivities.[i] Something to note is that L-glutamine is used in large amounts by your body especially under stress or exercise. Another way to get in additional L-glutamine outside of food, is through supplementation. I love bone broth as my base for rice/quinoa instead of water. For an afternoon snack I love Bonafide Provisions Turmeric Premade To-go Bone Broths!
Supplement with Aloe Vera Gel: This is so soothing to an irritated gut due to its demulcent or mucilage like qualities. It helps to increase mucus production in your gut, which in turn further supports the gut’s barrier and your gut’s immune system. It is a great addition to smoothies!
Ready for the next step?
Check out my Gut Reset Workshop Recording here.
If you are looking for an individualized approach to healing your gut contact us today!
[i] Chang WK, Yang KD, Shaio MF. Effect of glutamine on Th1 and Th2 cytokine responses of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Clin Immunol. 1999 Dec;93(3):294-301. doi: 10.1006/clim.1999.4788. PMID: 10600341.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.