Food Intolerance Testing with our Naturopathic Physicians
While food intolerance symptoms are often similar to food allergy symptoms, the underlying cause is not the same at all. Food allergies cause an immune system response, such as the release of histamine, which can affect various areas of the body, and can be life-threatening in the case of anaphylaxis. Food intolerance responses, on the other hand, do not involve the immune system, aren’t life threatening and are normally mild, building up over time. Food intolerance symptoms are also often digestion-related (bloating, gas), although they can also include irritability, fatigue, headaches, eczema, water retention, etc.
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease affecting about 1% of the world’s population. In this case, the celiac sufferer’s immune system responds to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. The little finger-like nodules, called villi, that line the small intestine promote the absorption of nutrients, so when they are damaged, it becomes difficult for the body to absorb nutrients properly.
Causes of food intolerances
Common food intolerances include milk, wheat, corn and eggs (with intolerance often developed in that order). The actual cause of an intolerance is unknown, but is probably related to a mix of different factors from the terrain of your gut, to how your biochemistry and digestive system are functioning. New sensitivities develop over time and can be precipitated by illness, antibiotics, stress, or a simple trip to a foreign country and the ensuing traveler’s diarrhea.
It is common to have between one and five food sensitivities, and in more severe cases up to 20 or 30. It is not unusual for a person to react to a food on one occasion and not on another, with the reaction depending on factors such as the amount eaten, how often the food is consumed, what it is combined with and what level of stress the person is under.
Food reactions are slow; it can take up to 48 hours for bowel issues to appear, and because there are many meals in a day, there might be no obvious link between the foods eaten and the symptoms.