Q: What is the difference between a food sensitivity and a food intolerance?
A: Here is how I define it (you may find other definitions elsewhere).
A food sensitivity is genetic. You are born with it, and it is lifelong. The only way to successfully address it is to completely eliminate the food from your diet. Some people find this hard to believe. They say “I don’t have any allergies” because they were not “symptomatic” in a way they recognize. A sensitivity is not the same thing as an allergy: it is a different kind of autoimmune response. Of course, many people ARE symptomatic their whole lives; they just don’t attribute the symptoms they’ve experienced to a food sensitivity, or they believe it is normal to feel “slightly crummy”, or have a few chronic health problems all the time. (See the list below to see if you qualify.) Most people are astounded at how many things clear up once they identify and eliminate their food sensitivities. And most people only have one or two so it’s really not so hard.
A food intolerance comes about in one of two ways. Sometimes it’s from overdoing ingestion of a single food or food family, and our body just says “enough”! More often it occurs as a secondary symptom of the food sensitivity. In other words, the food sensitivity causes damage to your intestinal tract. Every time you eat it, your body reacts as if it were being invaded by something toxic (which it is), and attacks. The battleground for that is the lining of your intestinal wall, which eventually becomes chronically inflamed, damaged, and may even have holes. This is what is known as “leaky gut”. Then, other food particles leak through those holes, and the body reacts to them as toxins as well, because we are not supposed to have undigested protein particles in our bloodstream. Your system becomes chronically hyper-vigilant and inflamed, causing it to be ever more reactive. Eventually, if the damage is bad enough, it can begin to look like you are reactive to everything. However, if you identify and eliminate the primary food sensitivity, and do the work to heal the gut and the inflammation, you will soon be able to eat every thing BUT the primary sensitivity, without becoming symptomatic again.
In my practice, the two most common food sensitivities, by far, are gluten and casein (a protein in dairy). Soy, corn, eggs and peanuts can also be problematic for some people.
Symptoms caused by food sensitivities can include:
Chronic Fatigue, Lethargy, and Brain Fog.
Migraines and headaches.
Eczema, Psoriasis, and other skin rashes.
Joint Pain. Body Aches.
Asthma and other chronic respiratory problems.
Irritability. Depression. Anxiety. Brain Fog.
Constipation and Diarrhea. IBS. Gas & Bloating. GERD. Acid Reflux
Chronic Congestion or runny nose.
Dark circles under the eyes.
Growing Pains in kids, particularly behind the knees.