What is a food sensitivity? Food sensitivity, or intolerance to certain substances in foods, is a common problem that can cause bloating and other symptoms. Food sensitivities aren’t usually caused by allergies, although some people do experience both types of reactions at once.
What causes food sensitivity?
Some experts believe that there are many different mechanisms that can lead to intolerance or reaction to food. One mechanism may be the lack of certain enzymes, like lactase for dairy products, sucrase-isomaltase for sucrose and fructose, etc. Deficiencies in these enzymes could cause the undigested food particles to leak through the gut lining and initiate an immune reaction. This is why digestive enzymes may help some people who are experiencing reactions to foods.
Another theory assumes that instead of incomplete digestion, it’s actually an intolerance to certain compounds produced during fermentation after the consumption of certain foods (dairy, grains, legumes) which results in an immune reaction. Other possible causes of food sensitivity include the presence of lectins, gluten, etc.
Types of food sensitivity
Food intolerance means the body has trouble digesting a certain type of food. When someone is lactose intolerant, their digestive system struggles to break down lactose, meaning they become gassy and bloated after eating dairy products. This may cause hives, stomach aches, itching, or anaphylaxis. Food intolerances are not life-threatening but can still be uncomfortable and embarrassing for the sufferer.
A food allergy is when the immune system mistakes harmless foods for dangerous invaders and attacks them in response. It usually takes less than an hour after eating the offending food to begin to notice symptoms like hives, vomiting, or stomach ache. Symptoms tend to come on much more quickly after eating if someone with a food allergy eats something they are allergic to, but there are also some people who have allergies that take days before any symptoms appear.
Symptoms of food sensitivity
This can range from mild to severe and typically appear immediately after eating the offending food. Food sensitivities are usually different from food allergies because they don’t involve the immune system; however, if someone is highly sensitive they may experience anaphylaxis-like symptoms (e.g urticaria, lip/tongue swelling).
Symptoms of food sensitivity can include:
– Aggravated bloating after eating the offending food
– Diarrhea/constipation, or alternating between the two
– Nausea & vomiting
– Skin conditions (e.g.: acne, eczema)
– Mood changes (e.g.: feeling depressed, anxious, tired)
– Respiratory conditions (e.g.: asthma, hay fever, or allergies)
– Urinary tract conditions (e.g.: arthritis/arthralgia, autoimmune diseases)
How to deal with food sensitivity?
The first way to deal with food insensitivity is to diagnose or test yourself. You can contact health service providers who do this or do it yourself. There are testing kits that you can use, and if you are wondering if at home food sensitivity tests are quick and easy to use, you can simply ask around or do a quick Google search. These kits tell you if you’re showing signs of food allergy or sensitivity. This provides an easy way to deal with sensitivity at your own convenience. It gives results in minutes via email or through their software program after doing some analysis at home. If you’re dealing with a food allergy or sensitivity then at-home testing is the best route for you.
Use Antihistamines to deal with food sensitivity
There are a large variety of drugs that work to block histamine from binding or triggering receptors. These include some common allergy medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl, but also more general antihistamines like Benadryl. In terms of dealing with food sensitivities, these can have several specific applications.
These substances can be food-based or otherwise, but the result is the same: they block histamine’s effects so that a patient does not suffer an allergic reaction. It should be noted that antihistamines have a limited window in which they can be effective: their half-life is generally under 24 hours. They must therefore be taken with some frequency to maintain their effects and there may also be cumulative effects if the same dosage is taken for more than one day or if multiple drugs of this type are used in conjunction.
Stop eating the food you are allergic to deal with food sensitivity
There are several different kinds of allergies but they all work essentially the same way. Your immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking a substance that it should consider harmless, or even beneficial. The substance that your body attacks could be any substance from food to pollen to the material in a mattress.
Scientists once believed that allergies were caused by antibodies called IgE but now they believe there is another antibody-type immune system response, IgG. Most people are familiar with IgE allergies because they are what you see on TV all the time. Seasonal allergies to pollen – the itchy eyes, drippy nose, and uncontrollable sneezing – are an example of IgE reactions. But IgG type food sensitivities are actually more common. To deal with this, make sure to stop eating that particular food that causes such a reaction.
Pay attention to labels
It is a phrase that has become more popular in the past few years, as food labels have become increasingly complex. There are countless types of labels out there, especially on “health” foods or products made specifically for certain dietary restrictions. However, with all those different labels come many different stipulations, and people sometimes forget what they are allowed to consume. One of the most common food sensitivities is gluten, which many people know by now (with the rise in popularity) can cause severe discomfort when ingested. But what about lactose? Or any others out there that aren’t as popular in mainstream media?
A simple way one can watch out for their food sensitivities is to read the labels on everything they purchase. If a label has a precautionary notice of ‘may contain traces of allergen, it’s best to not consume the product at all, no matter how small the amount might be.
See your doctor
Asides from avoiding the food that causes the symptom, if you aren’t sure what’s making you sick, or if your symptoms are unusual or severe, see your doctor. Don’t eat suspicious foods: If you think food is making you sick, don’t eat it for several weeks and see how you feel. When you visit your doctor, you may be given an epinephrine autoinjector to carry around with you in case you have an allergic reaction. Your doctor may also give you other medications to take if your symptoms get worse – like antihistamines, steroids, or antibiotics.
In conclusion, it is important to be aware of food sensitivities and watch for them in order to ensure you are eating healthy. If you believe that certain foods could be causing your symptoms, try avoiding them for a few weeks or use any of the other methods described above.