Are You Arresting an Allergy or Silencing a Sensitivity?

Good Morning

This piece comes following some recently released research on things that make us go itch, bloat and blart!

Determining whether or not you are allergic or just sensitive to an environmental factor or food item comes down to what part of your immune system is triggered and how fast and furious that trigger is in its response.

Many often use the word "allergic"loosely when the correct description is intolerance or sensitive. The danger here is that an avoidance of a food you are sensitive to vs allergic to can create a gradual nutrient loss and leave unchecked the possibility that something else is contributing to the problem from an inflammatory perspective. A sensitivity often engages the immunoglobulins IgG and IgA whereas an allergy calls up IgE and is commonly a rapid onset and intense presentation of symptoms - sometimes life threatening. If you are avoiding foods and substances that you know you are allergic to (and believe me you will know) - then that is highly recommended.

If however, you experience sensitivities to a variety of foods and this is transient or semi permanent - or non life threatening - then the opportunity to turn this around and return to enjoying those foods is still possible. Sensitivities and intolerances always creep up on us but will become a potential issue when other factors are also in play - such as a viral infection. Even some popular dietary fads are being reviewed for the efficacy and potential harm when avoiding foods unnecessarily.

For example, in a recent study on self diagnosed gluten sensitive patients in the trial, only 16% of those patients were reproducing the signs and symptoms of their sensitivity as reported before the trial started, when they were introduced to gluten during the trial. Only 1% of the population are Coeliac and therefore should avoid all gluten in their diet.

Whilst we are on the topic of gluten, the foods that are rich in gluten may also contain some important nutrients that your gut microbiota use to fuel themselves to make butyrate - an important food for immune sustaining cells. By avoiding unnecessarily all gluten rich foods - especially the cooked grains like oats and barley - you potentially rob yourself of vital nutrients. It is important to know exactly what it is you are sensitive to and work towards desensitization for a broader acceptance by your digestive system. Gluten is not digested well by the body in any of us and it does contribute to creating gut permeability - but so does alcohol intake, stress, medications, inflammation, viruses and many other factors.

Having an awareness of the down to earth reality of whether or not this or that food fits well with you also takes and understanding of the following"

Is the food organic or genetically modified?
Is the food well preserved, stored or potentially bacteria compromised?
Am I also under a lot of stress or have been unwell, exposed to a toxin or feeling less 'powerful' in my digestive system?
Could the food contain a number of possible sensitive factors such as histamine stimulating chemicals, proteins or undigested carbohydrates?
Will I be able to test successfully to find out exactly what I am reacting to so I can get more focused on the foods to include or avoid? (the answer to this one is yes you can)
Could I be influenced by fad diets, media or close friends who are also having some issues that may sound like mine?

These are important factors to keep in mind when considering an elimination and reintroduction of foods. The rotation out and then back in of some foods need to be done under supervision and with accurate recording so that a successful desensitization program can be implemented - and get you back on the way with enjoying those foods that recently may have caused you some havoc!

Bon Appetit!