Many of us think we suffer from symptoms of food allergies – but in some cases, we do not actually have an allergy but a sensitivity or intolerance. We often hear these words thrown around, such as lactose-intolerance or gluten sensitivity, but let's explore the difference between these three responses to food: allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance.
Once we understand the difference between these three types of problematic reactions to food, then we can look at how to test for food allergies. How may the ALCAT test, for example, help identify common food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances?
What's an allergy?
An allergy is the propensity in the body of an otherwise healthy person to have an adverse reaction – releasing histamine and other chemicals – via IgE-primed mast cells, when a substance (allergen) is sensed that is not typically dangerous to the body.
Symptoms of food allergies can include such responses as anaphylaxis, rash or hives, shortness of breath, or nausea. According to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the eight most common food allergies "account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat."
What's an intolerance?
Intolerance is the inability of the body to digest a certain food because the person's body does not possess the enzymes required to process the food. In the case of milk, for instance, often people are not technically allergic to dairy but are lactose-intolerant, meaning they can not break down that component of milk. Usually lactose is consumed by bacteria in the large intestine, but this is not proper digestion and results in pain, bloating, gas, and other symptoms.
What's a sensitivity?
A food sensitivity is the least medically understood of the three types of reactions. A sensitivity is a more unpredictable physical reaction to a certain food. The IFT states that sensitivity reactions are often sporadic and inconsistent – confusing medical scientists. Above all, sensitivities can not, by definition, involve IgE-primed mast cells; indicators of allergies.
How to test for food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities
A medical test such as an ALCAT test can help determine what types of food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities an individual might have. Cell Science Systems is the corporation behind the ALCAT test, which according to the Alcat company website has been available for over 25 years and tests for 350+ herbs, chemicals, and foods.
Reducing pain associated with foods
Many people experiencing chronic pain are unaware that their pain is in whole or part diet-induced. Here is an overview of our pain management diet recommendations regarding pain produced through food choices, as well as a number of supplements that can help. If you are in pain, we can provide guidance on nutrition, along with integrative therapy solutions to manage your pain and help you enjoy a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.