Food sensitivity testing can help you to determine if certain symptoms are associated with food intolerance. When considering if you may be suffering from food sensitivity, it is important to be aware of some of the differences between food allergy and food sensitivity, also known as food intolerance. Food allergies are allergic reactions which involve an immune system response involving immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies which are released in response to the offending food substance, or specialized cells known as mast cells. Food allergies have the potential to create fast and severe symptoms. In some cases, they may be life threatening and require you to seek immediate attention from a medical healthcare professional. Some of the most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts), shellfish, eggs and milk. Symptoms can vary, and may include itchy mouth, gastrointestinal symptoms, nausea, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin reactions such as hives, rash, itchy skin and respiratory reactions such as wheezing or constriction to the lungs. A serious reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur within a few hours of ingestion, and can be life threatening.
Most people experience food sensitivity reactions rather than allergy. Here, the symptoms may occur more gradually and they do not include an immune system response. Although they may not be life threatening, they do have the potential to cause the sufferer distress. Many symptoms may also be similar to those of food allergy including gastrointestinal problems, asthma, digestive disorders and skin problems. There are also some surprising symptoms which the person may not have associated with food sensitivity, such as fatigue, headaches, migraines, heart and joint problems, hyperactivity, ADD, eczema and even obesity.
Some common causes of food sensitivity include sensitivity to food additives (flavorings, colorings), certain substances which occur naturally in foods, food poisoning and irritable bowel syndrome. Some people may lack certain digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down particular food substances such as in those who are lactose intolerant and lack the lactase enzyme. Celia disease does include an immune response in response to gluten. However, it is also considered to be a food intolerance as the symptoms are not considered as life threatening as food allergy and symptoms.
If you have any reaction to a food substance, it is important to speak to your doctor, particularly to rule out any serious allergies. In most cases, your doctor may suggest that you avoid that food type. However, this may be difficult if you are not able to determine which food may be causing the symptoms. Fortunately, there are food sensitivity tests that can help to pinpoint the particular food type. One of the most common types of food sensitivity testing is the ALCAT, a very sensitive test which can help to determine which food or chemicals you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to. This test takes a blood sample and measures your sensitivity to over 200 food panel items, functional foods or herbs, food additives and colorings, environmental chemicals, molds and antibiotics or anti-inflammatory agents. Food sensitivity testing is available from many clinics which offer nutrition and wellness. After receiving the test results, these healthcare professionals can then best advise you on important steps to take to adapt your diet to effectively reduce your symptoms.