A food sensitivity isn’t like a traditional food allergy. Instead, it’s an unpleasant reaction to food, that doesn’t involve an immune system response or the release of histamine (the chemical that causes allergy symptoms).
Physical reactions to certain food are common but most are caused by a sensitivity, not an allergy. A food sensitivity can cause some of the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy, so the two are often confused.
If you have a food sensitivity, you may be able to eat small amounts of the offending foods without a problem. You may also be able to prevent a reaction with the help of products designed to support digestion.
Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food
For example, this is the cause of lactose intolerance, where people who don’t have enough of the ‘lactase’ enzyme can’t easily digest dairy based products.
Irritable bowel syndrome
This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation and diarrhoea in people who are sensitive to certain foods (it can also be a stress response).
Sensitivity to food additives
For example, some people are sensitive to sulfites which are used to preserve, dried fruit, canned goods and wine. This can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people.
Recurring stress or psychological factors
Sometimes the mere thought of a food can make prone individuals ill. The psychology behind it is still not fully understood.
Celiac disease has some features of a true food allergy because it involves the immune system. However, symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal and people with celiac disease are not at risk of anaphylaxis. This chronic digestive condition is triggered by eating gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains).
If you have a reaction after eating a particular food, a food sensitivity test can help indicate which foods are the cause of the problem and can help provide steps to aid digestion of certain foods or to treat the underlying condition causing the reaction.
Food allergies affect about 1 percent of adults and 7 percent of children, though some children outgrow their allergies.Food sensitivities are much more common. In fact, nearly earlyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to somethig they ate.Some People have specific food sensitivies, for instance lactose intolerance, which is the most common specific food sensitivity.
If you have not yet discovered whether you have a food sensitivity or allergy, it is best to seek help because the signs and symptoms often overlap.
Certain patterns in the symptoms can help distinguish between the two. In the vast majority of cases, food sensitivity symptoms take much longer to appear than food allergies.
It is recommended that you keep a food diary and write down which foods are eaten, what the symptoms are like and when they appeared. The data in the diary can help to identify which foods are causing adverse reactions and what steps to take.