By: Charlene Wang, MS, RDN, CHTP
Have food sensitivities doesn’t mean your body is broken. In fact, it means your body is highly intelligent.
Food can be both a healing medicine and the primary reason for your sickness. Society has become conditioned to the notion that foods cannot be a source of certain ailments. In fact, the masses may be nothing short of a misguided majority. The human body depends on a wide range of nutrients obtained from consuming wholesome food sources. But what happens when you’re already eating a clean diet and you’re still suffering from unpleasant symptoms? You may be dealing with an underlying food sensitivity, also known as non-allergic food hypersensitivity or non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity. These problems can make it so that even some of the healthiest foods can lead to a host of symptoms.
The most frequent food sensitivity symptoms include: prolonged bloating/gas, fatigue, sinusitis, eczema, hives/rash, acne, excess weight, headaches, stomach ache, heartburn, brain fog, but is specific to everyone’s body.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FOOD ALLERGY AND A FOOD SENSITIVITY
Food allergies trigger the immune system soon after consuming a certain food, while a food sensitivity tends to have a delayed reaction. Food sensitivities are much more common than food allergies, but because symptoms are milder and often delayed, people are uncertain to which foods are causing the symptoms.
It’s estimated that 3 in 4 people have some form of food sensitivity and these sensitivities are uniquely individual. Thus, food sensitivity testing is becoming more frequent.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND FOOD SENSITIVITIES
In 1906, the term “allergy” was coined by an Austrian pediatrician named Clemens von Pirquet. The term meant “altered biological reactivity”. Decades later, European allergists altered the term to describe rapid response reactions, such as an immediate onset of hives upon the ingestion of certain foods. When such a rapid response occurs, identifying the culprit food becomes easy. Hence, delayed responses are much more difficult to diagnose, which is why they are referred to as “hidden”. It is these types of reactions that food sensitivity testing addresses.
Delayed reactions tend to be immune system cells reacting to a chemical that occurs naturally in a food or is added at a certain stage. There are two ways adulterated and processed foods lead to food sensitivities: It doesn’t contribute the sufficient levels of nutrients essential for optimal liver detoxification and it adds more unnatural foreign substances into the body.
The body’s immune system consists of specialized cells. These cells are armed with chemicals such as histamine and other inactive preformed mediators awaiting the signal for their release. Yet the immune system can be a double-edged sword. It can be protective when functioning accordingly yet harmful to the body when exceedingly active. An overactive immune system can wreak havoc to organs, cell membranes, tissue, and even DNA. When food is incompatible with our unique biochemical makeup, the consequences can vary from deeper rooted causes, such as a lack of enzymes, food toxins reactivity, naturally occurring histamines in certain foods, a weak intestinal lining, and many more individualized origins.
MY PERSONAL FOOD SENSITIVITY STORY
The day I realized I was intolerant to one of my favorite staples, wheat, it felt like life was playing a joke on me. I had taken a food sensitivity test via Applied Kinesiology (AK) which revealed not only food allergies, but also food sensitivities. I can remember shaking my head when I looked at my test results. For as long as I can remember, I ate wheat on a regular basis since childhood.
As a rustic bread and pasta fanatic, I decided to make a commitment of eliminating wheat and was determined to see it through. Most remarkably, within a week, my runny nose ceased, there was no trace of rosacea, the chronic bloating was gone, and my mental alertness was sharper than ever. I felt alive now that those debilitating symptoms were no longer part of my daily existence. I had learned a valuable lesson that I needed to pass onto my patients, thus began my venture to learn AK for food sensitivity testing.
HOW TO IDENTIFY FOOD SENSITIVITIES
There are several methods to determine food intolerances. The most common approach is to eliminate foods over a span of months and reintroduce one food at a time, up to a week. This elimination will allow your body to process and clear the innocent mistakes made by your immune system as it continues trying to protect your body from perceived foreign invaders.
You will want to add back one food at a time with at least one week in-between each addition to try to determine what foods could have been causing symptoms typical of a food sensitivity. This is important because it can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for your body to present symptoms of a food intolerance or food sensitivity. Be mindful of your body’s cues for potential symptoms, such as prolonged bloating/gas, fatigue, sinusitis, eczema, hives/rash, acne, excess weight, headaches, stomach ache, heartburn, brain fog, and joint pain.
Another method is the Alcat Test. Ordered through a healthcare practitioner, the Alcat Test, shown to be consistently 80 percent accurate, uses a laboratory method for the identification of non-IgE mediated reactions. The Alcat Test measures a patient’s response to each test substance and then classifies each response as reactive, borderline or non-reactive.
The third approach I recommend is testing foods using Applied Kinesiology with a certified Applied Kinesiology practitioner. Food sensitivity testing with Applied Kinesiology identifies delayed and hidden food allergies and intolerances without any invasive prick tests to the skin. Based on the results, a customized elimination/rotation diet may be designed to effectively eliminate specific triggers of chronic immune system activation.
No two people with food intolerances are the same. Only an individualized diet, with intolerant foods eliminated, can provide certainty that toxins and allergens that meddle with optimal health do not overwhelm your system. Make the commitment to eliminate the foods that causes you troublesome symptoms and you will greatly benefit from that commitment.
By Charlene M. Wang, MS, RD, CHTP
Charlene Wang has been helping people meet their health and fitness goals in California and Colorado. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with professional certifications in Alternative Nutrition, Applied Kinesiology and Healing Touch. Her professional services include health risk assessments, weight loss plans, food sensitivity testing, disease prevention education, personalized health coaching, a variety of nutrition and health education classes, and energy medicine healing therapy.