Have you ever experienced bloating, headaches, inflammation, or digestive issues after eating? If so, then chances are your body is intolerant or sensitive to certain foods.
What exactly is your body intolerant or sensitive to? Are there any major long-term health impacts that can develop if you continue eating these foods?
This article will reveal the answers to those two questions. I will also provide some tips on foods you may want to eliminate, along with the importance of seeing a functional medicine doctor for food sensitivity testing.
But first, let’s briefly clarify some common misunderstandings when it comes to food allergies, food intolerances, and food sensitivities.
Food allergies involve the immune system and reactions are more immediate and severe. Common food allergy symptoms include rashes, itching, hives, swelling, or in some cases anaphylaxis – difficulty breathing, which can be fatal.
Unlike allergies, food intolerances do not directly involve the immune system. Instead, intolerances occur as a direct result of your body being unable to digest certain foods – e.g., dairy. Your body may become irritated by certain foods as well, and these foods typically result in enzyme deficiencies.
Food sensitivities are similar to food intolerances. One distinction, however, is that it is often less clear why you may be sensitive to certain foods, and food sensitivities may result in a more delayed reaction. In some instances, you may even be able to digest a small amount of foods that you are sensitive to without experiencing any issues in the short term.
Common symptoms of food intolerances and sensitivities include:
- Migraines or even sinus headaches
- Runny nose
- Brain fog
- Stomach ache
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
- Skin problems
- Mood issues such as depression or anxiety
- Kidney, bladder or reproductive system issues – g., bed wetting or recurrent urinary tract infections
How do you know if you have food intolerances or sensitivities?
To have a better understanding, your best option is to have blood testing performed to help identify what foods are causing these issues. Blood testing for Immunoglobulin (IgG) food reactions can help identify hidden food allergies. While these tests do have limitations and need to be interpreted in the context of the rest of your health, the results can serve as a useful guide to better understand what is particularly bothering you.
Of course, when having a blood test such as IgG performed, it is always recommended that you work with a doctor or nutritionist specifically trained in dealing with food allergies.
You can also try eliminating certain foods and replace them with better choices to see how this impacts the symptoms you are experiencing.
Going dairy and gluten free for six weeks in many cases can help overcome these issues as these are some of the most common triggers of food intolerances and sensitivities. In fact, for many people, removing dairy and gluten out of your diet can help heal inflammation and lead to weight loss.
Eggs, soy, certain legumes, and nightshades (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, goji berries, and some spices containing alkaloids) may be inflammatory for some people as well.
Other foods to avoid typically include:
- Processed meats
- Sugary drinks and candy
- White bread and white pasta
- Excess alcohol
- Trans fats in fried foods
- Processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
- Desserts such as cookies, brownies, and ice cream
Foods that can be used for replacement, which can help restore your alkaline levels and hormonal balancing include:
- More fruits and vegetables – organic, if possible to avoid unwanted chemicals and pesticides
- Olive oil for dressing
- Carrots and Broccoli
- Spinach and Parsley
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K
- Filtered water
Regarding long-term health consequences, poor food choices do contribute to not just inflammatory and digestive disorders, but also chronic and autoimmune diseases. Many of these conditions and disorders can become deadly.
We live in an age in which more and more people want to take proactive measures with their health – not reactive. Identifying the foods your body is intolerant or sensitive to, removing these foods from your diet and replacing them with better options is the way to go. And scheduling an appointment with a trained and certified functional medicine doctor who specializes in blood testing and analysis to help you diagnose and become aware of the foods to avoid and incorporate more of is an excellent first step.
Meet Dr. Neil Spiegel
For over 20 years in osteopathic medicine, Dr. Spiegel has applied traditional and alternative methods to diagnose and treat his patients. He has a special interest in caring for patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal and neurologic pain syndromes. Dr. Spiegel has received numerous professional and volunteerism honors including Top Doctor Survey Awards and the State of Maryland Volunteer Service Award. He also serves on the Board of Directors of a free clinic serving the uninsured in Montgomery County, Maryland.