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Understanding Food Sensitivities

gut check Feb 15, 2021

It's easier, now more than ever, to take a food sensitivity test as companies offer tests directly to consumers.

Food Sensitivities

But how do you navigate food and nutrition once you receive the results? Do you

A Note the results but continue eating the foods because there is no way you can live without cheese/eggs/garlic/whatever showed up on your list.

B Note the results and remove them from your diet.

C Note the results, remove them from your diet, and start working on a gut-healing protocol.

The correct answer is C 😉

An IgG Food sensitivity test is a very popular test amongst my clients.  Symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, belly aches, skin issues, weight gain, fatigue, mood, or neurological disorders can all be linked to a food sensitivity.  To understand a food sensitivity we first must understand immunoglobulin antibodies.

What Are Food Sensitivities?

Immunoglobulin antibodies are proteins produced by white blood cells that aid in the destruction of antigens.  An antigen is a substance that is tagged as an invader or threat by the body.  Once tagged, the immune system is activated to destroy the invader.   

But wait, how does food, and often food that is viewed as healthy, become a threat to the body?  This occurs when there is underlying inflammation and in which the immune response is already heightened.  There are a few lines of defense that the body has in place to respond to that inflammation.  Check it out!

  • Secretory IgA (sIgA)

    • This is the first line of defense that is found in the gut and respiratory mucosa.  It’s the “scout” that is on the lookout for potential threats and activates a nonspecific response.

    • Aids in the maintenance of a healthy microbiome

    • Protects against food-derived antigens

    • Can be passed from mom to baby in breast milk

    • Low levels = a depressed immune system usually from chronic gut dysbiosis, stress, and/or chronic illness

    • High levels = an overactive immune system usually from chronic intestinal infections, food sensitivities, low stomach acid, parasites, toxins, medications, polyps, diverticulitis, and/or colorectal cancer.  Autoimmune disorders and/or leaky gut are common with an overactive immune system.

  • Immunoglobulin M (IgM)

    • This is the first line of defense that activates a specific response to a perceived invader.

    • Provide short-term protection while the IgG response is activated. 

    • Often associated with a recent or active infection.

  • Immunoglobulin G (IgG)

    • This is the second line of defense and is responsible for the bulk of the antibodies produced in the body.  Initial IgG response is delayed as the antigen must first be recognized and tagged by the first line of defense. 

    • IgG antibodies are more specific to an antigen and retain the memory of that antigen.  Upon subsequent exposures, the body can more rapidly create antibodies in response.

    • IgG antibodies can be cross the placenta and provides antibodies to the baby.

    • Specific to food sensitivities

      • Reactions can be delayed up to 72 hours

  • Immunoglobulin E (IgE)

    • This third line of defense typically occurs when the IgG antibodies are overwhelmed and manifests as a true allergic response - hives, rash, anaphylaxis, runny nose, cough, etc.

    • Reactions may be mild at first but subsequent exposures could result in a severe reaction.

    • Most common skin prick test done by your practitioner.

Food Sensitivity Testing

So back to that food sensitivity test.  Most food sensitivity testing is an IgG test with the foods typically categorized as not significant, low, moderate, or high.  Not significant and low means there are little to no IgG antibodies present in that food.  Moderate and high means that the body has created a lot of IgG antibodies to that food.  I’ve included one of the four-page sample reports of the food sensitivity test I use through Great Plains Laboratory,  It tests for 190 foods that are common in the American, Asian, and Mediterranean diets plus Candida Albicans.  

Sample report from Great Plains Laboratory

As you can see on this sample report (and have maybe experienced yourself), foods that are considered healthy are on this list.  What the heck?!?  And there are a lot of foods on this list!  Anytime I am seeing foods listed and/or Candida Albicans, I immediately think about underlying inflammation or infections and that we are most likely dealing with leaky gut.  As I encounter loooooong lists of food sensitivities I know that we need to start a gut healing protocol implementing the 5R’s for gut health.  Even a short list of food sensitivities needs attention.  If no action is taken and you continue to eat those foods, you can see the list of food sensitivities grow as the immune system becomes even more ramped up as the immune system is working in overdrive as it’s trying to decipher friend from foe.  The easiest thing for it to do is tag everyone as a foe.  The intestinal lining becomes inflamed and it’s no longer to keep the junctions tight and now are dealing with leaky gut.  Leaky gut occurs when undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria are now leaking from your gut and into the bloodstream, once again activating that immune system.  Are you starting to see the patterns here?  The body is basically on fire with inflammation and the immune system working in overdrive.  If you choose not to address the issue, you can eventually see nutritional deficiencies occur and autoimmune disorders pop up.  Having one autoimmune disorder increases your odds of developing another threefold!

Food Elimination

Removing the foods is an absolute must in order to cool down that inflammation and immune response.  Even if you think you feel “fine” when you consume the foods that are high on your sensitivity report, your body will eventually tell you otherwise (if you listen).  I know that removing foods can often be challenging so I offer customized meal plans to help you navigate the restrictions you may be encountering.  

Removing the food permanently is not always a great long-term solution, especially if you have a really long list of foods that come back on your report.  You will need to implement some supplements to repair the integrity of the intestinal lining.  Often, through appropriate healing and time, we’ll see that list of sensitivities decreases, and reintroduction of the foods can be trialed to determine tolerance. Clients I work with find the 1:1 support very beneficial as we work to understand and uncover the root cause of their symptoms.

The information available on this website is for general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should not rely exclusively on information provided on the Website for your health needs. You can read more about our disclaimer here.


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