Is it a food allergy or sensitivity?

The word “allergy” is confusing because many people use it as a fully encompassing generic term for true allergic reactions and nonallergic adverse reactions, also called sensitivities or intolerances.

Immune reactions can result from the different types of food allergies or food sensitivities you may possess. The most common foods causing allergic reactions are peanuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs and tree nuts. Once identified, we recommend eliminating those problematic foods from your diet.

Food allergies are divided into two major categories: immediate and delayed.

When immediate food reaction occurs, sufferers experience symptoms within hours of having ingested the food. Symptom onset is rapid and may include tingling of extremities, wheezing, coughing, tightening of the throat, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Sometimes in cases where nuts, shellfish, fish, and peanuts have been eaten anaphylaxis can occur.

Immediate food reaction is a fixed food allergy. The food to which you are allergic will almost always provoke an immune reaction when ingested. In immediate reactions the body over produces what is called Immunoglobulin E antibodies, (IgE). IgE binds to allergens and and triggers an allergic response to any substance it sees foreign. Often, the reaction isn’t severe the first time, rather it is the second time of exposure that the acute reaction can occur.

A food sensitivity, as opposed to a food allergy, happens gradually and isn’t life threatening. Symptoms of a delayed food allergy can take up to 72 hours to appear. This type of immune response is mediated by the IgG antibody, which is the largest circulating antibody in our immune system and can cross the placenta from mother to child. IgG antibodies are the most common form of immunologic mediated food responses. It can be difficult to identify the offending food since we eat so many foods that go through different processes and have many ingredients. It is estimated that 20% of the population have an adverse reaction to a certain food.

Food sensitivities may be caused by many factors such as stress, infections, overeating, artificial preservatives, additives, molds, pesticides, antibiotics, and environmental pollutants. Unidentified food sensitivities can then contribute to many chronic health conditions: including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, autism, ADD/ADHD, eczema, chronic ear infections, gut malabsorption, insomnia and many others.

Transform Your Health

Improve  your health by avoiding foods that cause inflammation in your body. Each person has a different make up and can have sensitivities to specific foods, which can affect the level of health. Below is a list of symptoms that can be caused by food sensitivities.

  • Respiratory
  • Coughing & Wheezing
  • Rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Otitis Media
  • Sinusitis
  • Dermatologic
  • Acne
  • Canker Sores
  • Eczema
  • Itching
  • Urticaria (Hives)
  • Angioedema
  • Dermatitis
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Joint Pain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Auto – Immune
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neurological
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Migraine
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Infantile Colic
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Constipation
  • Malabsorption
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Genitourinary
  • Bedwetting
  • Chronic Bladder Infections
  • Auto-Immune
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus
  • Multple Sclerosis


Frequently Asked Questions about Nutrition

What is “leaky gut”?

Leaky gut is a condition that affects intestinal permeability. Tight-junctions in the gastrointestinal tract control the absorption of molecules in the small intestines. When these junctions are no longer “tight” substances may enter the bloodstream that otherwise would not. This can lead to autoimmune disease.

Food Intolerance vs Food Sensitivity vs Food Allergy

A food intolerance occurs when the body does not produce adequate enzymes (or perhaps does not produce any of the needed enzymes) to digest a particular food, or an excessive amount of a particular food has been consumed and the body cannot produce enough enzymes to cope. Symptoms of food intolerance are gastrointestinal – bloating, gas, diarrhea – they are not life threatening. A common example is lactose intolerance – many people do not produce the enzyme lactase, or do not produce enough lactase to be able to digest milk. Yogurt and cheese may be tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals.

A food sensitivity is an immune-mediated response to some foods. Food sensitivities may change and are impacted by cross-reacting environmental allergens, certain medications, and cross-reactivity within food groups. Symptoms vary and are not exclusively gut related. Food sensitivities are not life threatening and can be resolved by removing the culprit foods from the diet.

If you choose to have an IgG ELISA Comprehensive Food Panel test you are selecting a food sensitivity test.

Food allergies occur when the body does not recognize proteins from a particular food and reacts as if they were pathogens. This is an immune reaction, which can in rare cases, have serious consequences. Many young children have multiple food allergies that they usually outgrow by the time they are adults.

How often should you retest for food sensitivities?

We usually advise the patient be retested within 6-12 months after the initial test. However, if symptoms have improved and the culprit foods have been reintroduced without adverse reaction then a retest is not necessary.

How often should you retest for Candida, yeast overgrowth?

Curing Candida, yeast overgrowth can take time. Therefore, it depends on the initial antibody levels from the test result. Diet, herbal remedies and medications are typically recommended for treatment with retesting within 3 months.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a compound protein – gliadin and glutenin. In recent years gluten-free diets have gained popularity, and many people report feeling better overall when they remove gluten from the diet. Less then 2% of the population have gluten allergies, this includes those diagnosed with celiac disease. We may wonder why gluten has become such an issue in recent years – could it be that we now consume much more than we did before? Has the type of wheat which is generally consumed changed?

Gluten free grains include: teff, rice, corn, amaranth, quinoa.

What are GMO foods?

Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) are “man made” organisms that have been created in a laboratory by genetic engineering. They may combine plant, animal, bacteria or virul genes artificially. Plants that are cross-bred or grafted are not GMOs, example a pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot.

Many GMO plants are developed to resist pesitcides or herbicides or to produce an insecticide as the plant grows. This allows farmers to spray chemicals to kill weeds but will not damage the crop they want to grow.

However, there is one example of a GMO crop which is beneficial – Golden Rice. Golden Rice has been engineered to produce Vitamin A to combat Vitamin A deficiency in parts of the world. Some 190 million children around the world have Vitamin A deficiency which can cause blindness and premature death. Replacing just 20% of their regular rice with Golden Rice can provide adequate Vitamin A to prevent loss of sight.

Currently, food manufacturers in the United States are not required to label foods that contain GMOs. (64 countries around the world do require GMO labeling). Follow the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act alternatively known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) through our legislature, it was passed in the US House of Representatives July 23rd 2015, approved 275-150.

If you are concerned about GMO foods in your diet, the following are at high risk for cross pollination with GMO plants:

  • Alfalfa
  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Papaya
  • Soy
  • Sugar Beets
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash

What does “organic” mean?

Organic products have been grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, they have not been genetically modified and have not been irradiated. Animal products have been raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.

What do organic labels mean?

100% Organic – the item is made with 100% organic ingredients.

  • Organic – 95% of the ingredients must be organic.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients – a minimum of 70% organic ingredients and no GMOs.

Check out for product reviews and information on organic products.

Should I Buy Local or Organic?

Supporting your local farmer keeps money in your community, however, not all local farmers are “certified organic” farmers. It usually takes three years to obtain the “Certified Organic” stamp. If you local farmer does not have the “organic” stamp ask what chemicals he uses on his crops. He may be not be using any.

Buying locally produced food reduces the carbon footprint – the less distance the food has to travel the fewer carbon emissions needed to get the food to point of sale. Check out your carbon footprint at