What is a food sensitivity?
A food sensitivity is kind of like a food allergy...only
different. A food allergy is a reaction that happens within the first
two hours after eating a particular food. It's more immediate, and
more obvious. Hives, anaphylaxis, sneezing, runny nose, skin eruptions
-- these are more reactions you would find with a food allergy. You
usually know what foods you are allergic to since they are so obvious to
Food sensitivities are different. They are more delayed in their response time and are more dependent upon the amount and frequency that you eat a particular
food. You may be fine with eating small amounts of that food, but the
more you eat it, the more you are building that food protein up in your
system, and once you reach your own individual threshold, you react.
Reactions can show themselves in any number of ways: Joint pain,
digestive issues, migraines, asthma, fatigue, depression, anxiety, skin
issues, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, emotional eating -- all of these can be
results of food sensitivities.
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Which foods are you sensitive to?
The usual suspect foods that tend to be the most allergenic are wheat,
gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, oats, sugar and corn. You can also be sensitive to
certain organic chemicals in foods such as citrus fruits, nightshade
plants (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers), caffeine, alcohol
and artificial chemicals. These are the most common, but there are other chemicals
naturally produced by plants called salicylates and vasoactive amines that can trigger immune response, as well. The foods that you eat on a regular basis tend to be the ones you risk being the most sensitive to.
Since gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and dairy products tend to be the the most over-consumed and reactive, I always recommend you do a gluten and dairy free diet before undergoing any kind of elimination diet. In about half the cases I see, these two tend to be the culprits.
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How do you detect a food sensitivity?
The best way to detect a food sensitivity is to remove it from the diet
for a period of at least 3 weeks, then to add it back in to see how you
react to it. You can do this in two ways: 1. Remove one or two foods at a
time; or 2. Remove all potentially
allergenic foods from the diet then add them back one at a time to
detect responses. This is called "The Elimination Diet." What option
to take depends on you and your lifestyle. If you feel overwhelmed by
the prospect of doing a full Elimination Diet, you may be a better
candidate for taking one or a few foods out at a time (like gluten and dairy). It takes longer
but if you know you will be more successful keeping it simple, it will be
more effective for you. For those who have the desire to do it all at
once, the full Elimination Diet is for you.
What is the Elimination Diet?