Hives. Itchy eyes. Runny nose. These are the symptoms commonly associated with an allergic reaction. However, sensitivity to certain foods can cause other symptoms. In fact, foods such as dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, shellfish and gluten can cause physical and mental problems that may surprise you.
Allergy vs. Intolerance
Before we can discuss the most common symptoms, we must consider the difference between an allergy and an intolerance/sensitivity. Basically, it comes down to the immune system versus the digestive system.
According to Cleveland Clinic, food allergies trigger an immune system response in about 1 percent of adults and 7 percent of children. When you eat a food ingredient that you’re allergic to, your body mistakes the particle as harmful and creates IgE antibodies to attack it. This makes it relatively easy for doctors to test for the presence of the antibodies. On the other hand, food sensitivities or intolerances often trigger a digestive system response and aren’t as easy to detect with testing. They are much more common than food allergies.
Top Food Sensitivity Symptoms
- Digestive distress. Intolerance to lactose (sugar found in dairy products) is the most common food intolerance. Lactose can create significant irritation in the digestive tract. Also, researchers are finding that diets high in processed foods might alter the composition of gut bacteria. An out-of-balance gut can cause gas, weight gain, bloating and constipation.
- Skin issues. Acne, rosacea and dark circles can be caused by food. For example, researchers have found a connection between dairy and acne. Rosacea may also be triggered by consuming dairy products.
- Fatigue. If you continually eat foods that your body can’t use for energy, you may experience inflammation or other negative effects. When your body has to work harder to digest certain foods, it saps your energy and makes you feel tired.
- Moodiness or brain fog. If you’ve ever tried to give up gluten, dairy or sugar, you may have experienced withdrawal symptoms that impacted your mood or brain function. That’s because these foods release morphine-like substances when metabolized. At first, your body won’t like it when you take them away.
- Joint pain. Unfortunately, dairy, soy and gluten production often involves genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics and pesticides. These substances often trigger inflammatory responses—especially in the joints.
Food Sensitivity Solutions
With so many people quick to follow a new diet or experiment with supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor about your suspected food sensitivity and develop the right plan of attack. Most physicians will recommend an elimination diet followed by the reintroduction of potential trigger foods to determine which item is causing the problem. Once you can pinpoint your trigger(s), you may want to consult a registered dietician to devise an eating plan that will optimize your health.
Remember to keep a food diary that outlines what you ate and when, tracking your reactions and other important factors such as mood, exercise and menstrual cycles. Your healthcare team can use this information to get your health back on track as quickly as possible.
- Cleveland Clinic
- Food Allergy Research & Education
- University of Nebraska
- Very Well
To learn more about health and wellness strategies, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.