Nutrition and Lifestyle

Do you have a food sensitivity?

March 13, 2019

Food sensitivities are more common than ever. More and more people are discovering discomforts after eating certain foods. Food sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms that are most often undetected. Symptoms can vary, often taking some time to appear. 30 minutes to 48 hours can elapse before a symptom of food sensitivity can appear.

Food sensitivities are different from an allergy. A food allergy is a response from the immune system that can affect numerous organs in the body. Food allergies can be triggered by a small amount of the offending food and can be felt soon after eating.

What is a food sensitivity

Food sensitivities (or food intolerance) don’t involve your immune system. It’s difficulty in digesting certain foods or food groups. Some people with food sensitivities can eat a small amount of it before feeling a reaction.


In contrast to food allergies, food sensitivities can take time to manifest. The challenge for most people is trying to identify a symptom with a food.

Causes of food sensitivity

  • Irritable bowel syndromeIrritable bowel syndrome is a tricky one. In my experience and research, IBS seems to be the basket where all stomach complaints are thrown. But this mystery basket is rarely solved. IBS can mean many things to any given person. It’s a matter of the correct testing, the right doctor and proper protocol.
    • Small bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
    • Leaky Gut (intestinal permeability)
    • Gut Biome dysfunction
    • Gut infections
    • Non Celiac gluten sensitivity
  • Lack of necessary enzymes – Lactose is the most common example of an enzyme missing. Low stomach acid can play a part in enzyme activity. Both should be checked to resolve a food intolerance. Enzyme deficiency can easily be resolved.
  • Stress – emotional or physical stress has an immense impact on the digestive system via the Vagus nerve. This is the communication pathway between the brain and the stomach. Stress can interrupt the communication pathways leading to digestive complications.
  • Food additives – Food additives are abundant in our foods. Over time and across generations our personal genetics may become sensitive to some food additives. 
  • Amines – Naturally occurring chemicals from the breakdown of proteins in food as they age. Aged foods such as cheese, wine, and processed meats are high in amines.
  • Histamines – are chemical messengers that play an important role in the body. Sensitivities arise when too many histamine-rich foods are consumed. Foods that trigger the release of histamine in the body can also have an effect. DAO (Diamine Oxidase) is an enzyme responsible for breaking histamine down. Overconsumption or increased blood levels of histamine overload or block the function od DAO.

Common symptoms of food sensitivities

DigestiveSkinRespiratoryNervous System
Diarrhea/ constipation
Mouth ulcers
Skin flushes

Post nasal drip
Excess mucous

Brain fog

Testing available

Food diary

A common, cost-effective way of understanding what foods are your triggers. Observe symptoms and compare them over a period of time. Identification of symptoms requires commitment and a close line of communication with your body.

Elimination Diet

This is also a cost-effective option. If done correctly it can offer a lot of insight. It works off the basis that you avoid common allergens such as gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and sesame. You also avoid foods that you are suspicious of, we usually have some insight into this. The elimination diet can take up to a month to complete. It requires serious dedication to produce correct results.

Skin prick test and IgE specific test.

These tests are costly and not 100% accurate however can offer a general picture as to what’s going on. In my own experience, they have offered people a general idea of foods they should avoid. Reintroducing the foods at a later stage clarify any misdiagnoses.

What to do once you know?

Depending on severity of symptoms:

  • Avoid foods completely for 6 weeks to 6 months
  • Look for food substitutes for example almond milk instead of dairy milk.
  • Follow protocol for cause
  • Reintroduce foods slowly
  • Keep a positive attitude

Following the right protocol, sticking to the diet and allowing the gut to heal is important. A healed system means that you can reintroduce the foods with more success.

A thriving life is on the way.

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