I am starting another short “post series” to discuss some basic information I have discovered recently about my food intake, and also relate some of my experiences. I apologize for the delays between posts, but as always it seems like I have a million things to do, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I will try to have this post series completed within the next 2-3 weeks. But I will probably only be posting about 1 or 2 times per week at most.
As I have mentioned a few times on the forum, I have been experimenting with my diet tremendously.I am trying to eat a very bland baseline diet, and I am basically trying to re-introduce foods one at a time (and only 1 every week or two), so that I can discover all the foods that upset my body in some way.
My hives are still gone, and still doing great. My basic strategy for them at this point is this: Remove all sources of inflammation from the body, and there is a very good chance the hives can improve. Perhaps this isn’t true for everyone, but it has worked well for me.
I’ve already went into the post series about losing visceral fat, and how I was able to slowly integrate exercise into my life. I think this has helped tremendously. But I think removing foods that upset me has also been a huge breakthrough for me as well.
Food Allergy Vs Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?
Classic Food Allergies
The main difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance is that a food allergy involves the immune system directly (typically IgE). In this situation, your immune system actually builds antibodies against a particular food protein. Thus, when you eat a food that you are allergic to (such as peanuts, shellfish, etc.), there is an immediate reaction (you usually react within minutes or hours). These reactions can often be fatal in severely allergic situations.
There are also non-IGE mediated allergies, such as allergic eosinophilic esophagitis, gastritis, or gastroenteritis. Celiac disease is also sometimes classified as a food allergy since it involves the immune system, but it is also referred to as an intolerance.
A person can become allergic to almost anything with a protein in it. So veggies, fruits, nuts, fish/meat, eggs, milk, etc—all of these are common food allergies people often develop.
A few things to note is that:
- A food allergy can develop at any time in life (sometimes they present during childhood, sometime adulthood).
- A food allergy can sometimes go away over time, but not always. Children seem to be the ones most likely to outgrow an allergy.
- A food allergy may produce different levels of symptoms depending on the body’s response to the allergen, and the amount of allergen consumed.
Delayed-Onset Food Allergies
Delayed-onset food allergies are not considered “classic food allergies.” In fact, delayed onset food allergies are not totally embraced by the medical community. At this time, it seems to have a lot more support from the “naturophath/homeopath” group.
They are believed, however, by some of these naturopaths to also be involving the immune system. In this situation, IgG (another type of immunoglobulin) attaches to food in the body, which over time results in a very delayed reaction or sensitivity in the body. The reaction could take days, or even a week or two to form. Again, this isn’t totally accepted by the entire medical community, so it is a good idea to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. But nonetheless, this is also often mentioned in the context of food allergies and intolerances, so it is worth mentioning.
Food intolerances are much more slow reactions that occur due to the body not being able to tolerate a certain food or substance in food. This is also a very slow reaction (taking hours, days, or weeks to show up or go away), and a food intolerance can develop for a number of reasons, including:
- Lack of enzymes to break down a certain substance (ie, lactose intolerance)
- The result of food poisoning/bacterial disruption in the digestive system
- Non allergic sensitivities (pharmacological in nature).
Food intolerances, like classic allergies, can also sometimes form at any age during life. For example, I used to be able to consume milk with no problems at all. But in my 20’s I developed lactose intolerance. Many people tend to become more lactose intolerant with age as well (my wife can’t tolerate it as well as she used to).
Symptoms of Food Allergies, Delayed Onset Food Allergies, and Food Intolerances
Symptoms for both food allergies and intolerances can sometimes be difficult to discern. Keep in mind that the allergy sypmtoms usually respond quickly (or immediately), whereas the intolerance symptoms may happen after hours, days, or even weeks. Here are the symptoms for each:
Food Allergy Symptoms:
- Itching of the mouth area
- Swelling of the face, throat lips, or other areas
- Wheezing/trouble breathing
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
- lightheadedness, fainting, headaches/migranes
Food Intolerance Symptoms:
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas
- loss of sense of smell, nasal congestion, chronic stuffy nose
- headaches, migranes, brain fog
- canker sores
- intense cravings for the intolerant foods
- Joint pain/arthitis inflammation
- dark circles under eyes
How To Know If You Are Allergic or Intolerant? Is There a Test?
You can testing done for standard (classic) allergies. These tests will often help identify common allergens, and your level of reactivity or sensitivity to them. An allergist or dermatologist can help you sign up for a test.
For food intoleranes, there are a few tests available if you suspect a certain type. For example, there are gluten intolerance tests, and also lactose intolerance tests. For some food intolerances, however, there is no specific “test” procedure. In these cases, you will often have to undergo what’s known as an “allergy elimination diet.”
In the allergy elimination diet, you remove the most commonly known allergens, and eat bland hypoallergenic foods. Then, after some time, you can re-introduce the foods to see if they cause the intolerance symptoms to present.
In my next post, I will try talk more about allergy elimination diets, and what I’ve been doing with it.