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Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance vs. Food Sensitivity

I always have a lot of confusion from patients about the difference between a food allergy, a food intolerance and a food sensitivity, so I want to clear that up.

food allergy occurs when a food being consumed produces an IgE antibody. This IgE antibody then causes a special type of cell, called a Mast cell, to release histamine. When histamine is produced, this can cause typically allergy symptoms that you are probably familiar with such as hives, itchy skin, tingling in the mouth or in bad cases, issues with breathing and airway closure.

food intolerance is a broad term for when a food consumed causes some sort of symptoms in the body. It could be a diverse number of symptoms because there are many ways that someone could be intolerant to food. Some possible symptoms might include gas, bloating, diarrhea, nasal congestion and/or headaches.

food sensitivity is a specific type of food intolerance where again, an antibody is being produced in response to a food being consumed. However in this case an IgG antibody is being produced and this causes a much slower delayed immune reaction (compared to a food allergy) creating inflammation in your digestive tract and body, at times for several days after the food has been consumed.

Why does this matter???

First it’s important to recognize that there are many different ways that food can cause a reaction in the body. If we don’t understand how and why your body is reacting to a food, then it is difficult to know what we can do about it.

Second, it’s important to be an informed patient. That way when you are speaking with your healthcare practitioners you can use the right terminology. I find this usually helps patients get access to better care and be less likely to be “brushed off” by their doctor.

Inspiring women to take back their digestion and life,

~Dr. Rosie, Naturopathic Doctor and founder of the Digestive Freedom Method

Is Food Sensitivity Testing Helpful for IBS?

Some of my patients who are struggling with digestive issues and maybe they have a diagnosis of IBS already, come in asking about food sensitivity testing.

Now, you might be surprised to find out that I don’t actually run food sensitivity testing very often for my patients with IBS or other digestive concerns.

In case you don’t know what food sensitivity testing actually is…

It is a blood test that measures antibodies (proteins) in the blood that the body creates in response to different foods that are being consumed.

However, one of my concerns with food sensitivity testing is that it is not casting a wide enough net.

What I mean by that is, it’s only testing for one mechanism of action or one way that someone might be reacting to a food.

In reality, there’s a number of different ways and reasons why someone reacts to various foods, so food sensitivity testing is going to miss some foods.

The second reason and probably the most important reason is that a lot of times, food reactions or intolerances are happening because of the environment in the gut.

It’s SOOOOO important to recognize that it’s not just about blaming all the symptoms on food when in reality food reactions are a result of the environment in the gut.

I actually prefer to use a well tailored elimination diet for my patient that’s specific to their needs because it allows us to cast a wider net, but it also acts as a really great gut reset for the environment in the digestive tract.

This is going to have better long term results to eliminate digestive symptoms because it is actually fixing the reason why the food reactions are happening.

If you are ready to make 2023 the year you conquer your digestive symptoms so you can feel comfortable and confident all day long, I would love to help.

Click here to schedule your virtual or in-office Initial Discovery and Strategy Appointment.

During this appointment we will do a deep dive into your digestive and overall health and map out your complete strategy to move from a bloated belly, gas, tummy pain and bad poop to feeling comfortable and confident in your body all day long.

Inspiring women to take back their digestion and life,

~Dr. Rosie, Naturopathic Doctor and founder of the Digestive Freedom Method

Myth or fact? A low FODMAP diet is a long-term treatment for IBS?

Myth or fact?

A low FODMAP diet is a long-term treatment for IBS?

This is actually a myth!

Now, in case you don’t know what a low FODMAP diet is, it is a diet that is low in fermentable carbohydrates.

This way, you reduce the amount of food source for bacteria in the digestive tract that can lead to gas and bloating and essentially the IBS symptoms that you experience.

Now, a low FODMAP diet is only meant to be followed for a short period of time, meaning anywhere from two to six weeks.

And if you are following a low FODMAP diet and haven’t seen improvements at that point, most likely that diet is not going to help you.

For anyone who has seen improvements being on a low FODMAP diet in that two to six week mark, then they need to do reintroduction so that they can actually figure out what foods within the high FODMAP categories are a problem for them.

That way, they don’t end up following restrictive eating patterns or develop an eating disorder long term.

And if you are someone who can’t successfully transition off of a low FODMAP diet, where you are able to incorporate most of those foods back in, then guess what?

Something else is going on…

And you need to dig deeper, because relying on a low FODMAP diet long term can actually be more damaging to the gut bacteria because you no longer are giving them a fuel source.

So, just to summarize a low FODMAP diet is only meant to be used short term.

And if you can’t transition off of a diet, then something else is going on that needs to be treated.

If you need help with that or need support following a low FODMAP diet, reach out.

I would love to help.

Inspiring women to take back their digestion and life,

~Dr. Rosie, Naturopathic Doctor and founder of the Digestive Freedom Method