Do you have a rapid and severe reaction to walnuts? If so, you probably have a food allergy. Or, do you feel bloated and have congestion the day after you eat ice cream? If so, that points toward a food intolerance.
“Allergy” implies an IgE-mediated immune response that can be as extreme as severe anaphylaxis, whereas “intolerance” points to milder negative reactions, generally mediated by IgA and IgG. Both food allergies and intolerances are on the rise, but the delayed and less-specific symptoms of food intolerances make it more confusing, pervasive, and one of the most under-addressed issues in healthcare today.
Common foods associated with food intolerance include gluten and dairy. Clinically, at OHS, we have seen a spectacular rise in gluten-associated conditions in the last decade. This observation is backed by scientific studies, which have found that in the last 50 years, the incidence of celiac disease has increased from 1 in 700 people to 1 in 100 (1), and these increases are not merely due to higher diagnostic rates (2).
If one has a food intolerance, identifying and eliminating the problematic foods are an absolutely essential step in order to achieve health (3). For example, in a person who has gluten intolerance, every time that she eats gluten-containing foods (which includes bread, cereal, snacks bars, and almost all processed foods), her body mounts an immune response to the gluten, creating an inflammatory cascade that could elicit indigestion, pain, brain fog, neurological symptoms, thyroid imbalance, or even affect hormonal balance and fertility (4, 5).
Common symptoms of food sensitivities include irritability, headaches, migraines, bloating, fatigue, aching joints, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and focus problems (6). We at OHS are trained to recognize the patterns that could be associated with specific food intolerances. Once recognized and eliminated, we then work to heal the gut and systemic damage that most likely occurred during the years when one consumed foods that his immune system rejected. We provide careful guidance in helping the patient navigate the dietary challenges that come with a food inventory overhaul. And very importantly, we offer recipes, shopping lists, meal plans, cooking tips, etc. that empower the patient on his or her road to health.
1. Rubio-Tapia A, et al. Increased prevalence and mortality in undiagnosed Celiac disease: Gastroenterology. 2009 Jul;137(1):88-93. Epub 2009 Apr 10
2. Rubio-Tapia A, Murray JA. Celiac disease: Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar;26(2):116-22.
3. Duggan JM. Celiac disease: the great imitator: Med J. Aust. 2004 May 17;180(10):524-6. Review.
4. Hadjivassiliou M. Immune-mediated acquired ataxias. Handb. Clin. Neurol. 2012; 103:189-99.
5. Hadjivassiliou M, et al. Gluten sensitivity: from gut to brain. Lancet Neurol. 2010 Mar; 9(3):318-30.
6. Vojdani A. Lecture notes. Neuroimmunology, sponsored by Carrick Institute. 2012.