Think You May Have a Food Sensitivity? Here's How to Tell

Think You May Have a Food Sensitivity? Here's How to Tell

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Question—Are you dialed into your body? Are you paying attention to how you feel, when you feel your best, and when you feel, well, less than extraordinary? The truth is that getting tuned into yourself can go a long ways in not only supporting your overall health and wellbeing, but also in helping you feel your best.

And if you're not feeling top-notch, a solid place to start is by examining your diet. Eating clean and nutrient-dense foods can boost your energy and help you feel good each day. But if you're eating clean and still feeling crummy, a food allergy or sensitivity may be to blame. We tapped registered dietician, Stephanie Lauri, to share her expertise on what to know if you suspect you may have a food sensitivity. Read on for her tips.

food allergy produce box

Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity

"Both food sensitivities and food allergies involve the immune system. A food allergy can be life threatening, where a sensitivity—while it may cause feelings of discomfort—does not pose the same potential risk.

Oftentimes, people can eat small amounts of a food they have sensitivity to, without it causing problems. Whereas a food allergy, or Immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated food allergy, affects an estimated 3 to 10 percent of adults worldwide."

Symptoms of a Food Allergy or Sensitivity

"Allergy reactions are more immediate, within minutes to an hour after food consumption and symptoms include: hives, rash, difficulty breathing, swelling or inflammation, nasal congestion, and anaphylactic shock in severe cases.

Symptoms of food sensitivities can take more time—up to 72 hrs after eating a food—so it can be more challenging to pinpoint the source of a reaction. Symptoms can be anything from anxiety and depression, to GI symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, to fatigue, brain fog, headaches and mood swings."

The Common Culprits

"The eight most common allergens in the US and EU are cow's milk, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanut, fish, shellfish and soy. And top food sensitivities include lactose or dairy, eggs, corn, soy, gluten, coffee, yeast, shellfish and peanuts."

Food Allergies & Your Health

"The gut has a large impact on the immune system, including susceptibility to infectious and inflammatory diseases. 'Leaky gut' or intestinal permeability can trigger inflammation and change the type of bacteria present in the GI tract. Food allergy and sensitivities can be symptoms of a leaky gut, or intestinal lining in need of repair."

Suspect You Have a Food Allergy? Do This

"If you suspect a true food allergy, I recommend finding and making an appointment with a local allergist. If it is a food sensitivity, typically you may start with an elimination diet and reintroduce foods one at a time to determine individual tolerance. However, a prolonged elimination diet, especially when involving major food groups, should be carefully monitored over time as it can lead to possible nutrient deficiencies and decreased quality of life."

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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.