do I have a food allergy?


Let’s start by looking at some examples of food intolerance.

There are two very good examples, one of which everyone has heard of, and the other, most are familiar with as well.

Let’s first consider lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is well understood to be a deficiency in the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Lactose is a sugar in milk. If you don’t produce enough of the enzyme, called lactase, then you can’ t digest lactose and you end up with gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort when you ingest milk products. It’s about as simple as that. You can buy lactose-free milk, and you will be fine. You can also buy the enzyme and take it with your food, and it will help you digest milk products and you’ll be fine.

Note however that lactose intolerance has nothing to do with the immune system. It doesn’t produce inflammation. It doesn’t cause any real damage. It’s definitely not life threatening. It’s just very uncomfortable and perhaps embarrassing.

Now let’s turn to the second example, gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance does not involve an enzyme deficiency. Gluten intolerance is an immune reaction. And in the case of celiac disease it results in an autoimmune reaction. Antibody production is also involved, but these are not the IgE antibodies we noted when discussing the traditional view of allergy. These are IgA and IgG antibodies.

Gluten intolerance also involves other parts of the immune system beyond these antibodies. As you may already know, gluten intolerance is connected to hundreds of different symptoms. You can have digestive problems, skin problems, neurological problems, psychological problems, weight problems, etc. This list goes on and on.

As you can now can the use of the word ‘intolerance’ in lactose intolerance is something completely different than the use of ‘intolerance’ in gluten intolerance. You have probably already guessed it, but there is no scientific definition for the word intolerance. It means the same thing in this context as it does anywhere else in the English language. It’s just a very broad word that means that things aren’t working out well.

This is a big problem. And I am very sensitive to this. (Or is that intolerant of it?) If the word doesn’t really mean anything, or the medical system uses it in two very different ways, then people will get confused. And that is part of the reason that many people, including many doctors, don’t appreciate the significance of gluten intolerance – because they equate it to lactose intolerance.

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The immune system functions like a sentinel standing guard against foreign invaders. In the case of an allergy, the invaders are called allergens. The primary weapon that it uses against invaders is the production of antibodies. The antibodies cause reactions that result in the offending allergens being removed from the body. In many people, foods act as allergens rather than nutrition. This can result in the symptoms of IBS.

The immune system produces numerous kinds of antibodies, called immunoglobulins. IgE and IgG are acronyms for the two different kinds of antibodies produced by the immune system in allergic reactions to food.

You might be asking why you need to know this. Conventional allergy testing looks for IgE reactions only.

These types of reactions typically occur immediately after contact with or ingestion of the allergen, and in some cases can cause serious, even fatal, health problems. Potential IgE reactions include swelling of the lips and tongue, hives, bloating, abdominal pain, or sudden diarrhea. These are the reactions that people usually think of when they hear the word allergy. However, IgE reactions can also lead to many other symptoms not traditionally recognized as being caused by food allergies.

The problem with this type of testing is that most food allergies are not IgE reactions, but are rather IgG reactions, which usually show up hours or even days after ingestion of the allergen. They are generally not nearly as dramatic as the more severe IgE reactions, and usually result in “mere” constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Both antibodies are important, and food allergy testing should include both or the cause of IBS may be missed.

For more information about this subject refer to The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution.

15 Common Symptoms of Food Allergies

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Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true.

Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of misunderstanding due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

The following are a few of the more common conditions that we regularly see cured by avoiding a food allergen.


Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.


If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy. Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.


As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.


In our two previous posts, we discussed what exactly is meant by a food allergy as well as a food intolerance. Today, we’re going to discuss food sensitivities.

Food Sensitivity

Now with the word sensitivity, things are starting to look up. It’s not being misused as much as the other words; however, it has even less scientific meaning than intolerance, if that’s possible.

Sensitivity is often used by the average Jane to indicate that she knows that she just doesn’t do well with a particular food, but she doesn’t quite know what to call it. The medical community has picked up on this and run with it in the form of gluten sensitivity. They don’t know what to call non-celiac gluten reactions, so now we are starting to hear them called gluten sensitivities.

Fortunately, in this context, the proper word is being used. However, that is only because the word sensitivity is so broad that it covers absolutely everything. In fact, it also covers celiac disease, which is logically a type of sensitivity to gluten. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we need to be clear about what the word sensitivity means.

Making sense of it all

At this point you have a much better idea about the confusion behind the words allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity. That’s helpful, but if we’re going to educate the world about our reactions to food then we need a consistent, scientific, and meaningful language with which to converse about it. We need a foundation on which we can build. Otherwise these topics are going to continue to dwell in the cellar of our medical system.


An allergy is what results when your immune system is inappropriately activated.

Your immune system is designed to attack bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is not intended to attack the food you eat. But this is exactly what happens with some people. This is called a “food allergy” or “food intolerance.”

When your immune system is activated, antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) are produced. Antibodies in turn trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation causes pain and tissue damage, leading to further symptoms. Increased mucous production is another aspect of an immune response.

When a food is broken down and absorbed, it is distributed through your bloodstream to all of your tissues. Therefore an allergic reaction can occur just about anywhere in your body.

We don’t really understand why a food allergy can exhibit itself so differently in different people.

However, every individual is unique and seems to have a unique weak point where symptoms of a food allergy show up first.

Food Allergies

Food allergies may be one of the most prevalent health problems in our country and are certainly the biggest problem that I see in my clinic. But if you’re like most of my patients, you’re probably thinking, “Not me, I don’t have a food allergy.”

Most people think they have a pretty good idea about food allergies. They may know someone who has one and think, “My problem isn’t like theirs.” Or they may just think that food allergies normally result in hives, a rash, or some kind of medical emergency.

In fact, food allergies can be the cause of many chronic health problems.