Essentially food sensitivity is your body’s reaction to certain foods which can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some people will have one symptom such as a severe headache whilst others will be unfortunate to experience irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and skin or respiratory conditions. Realising that your food is a catalyst for particular symptoms is not easy when, unlike the immediate reactive symptoms of food allergy, food sensitivity symptoms often appear hours or even days later. In fact many sufferers have commented post diagnosis and after having removed their problem foods that they realise they had been experiencing minor symptoms as a result of food sensitivity for their entire lives.
Food allergy is not the same as food sensitivity
A common confusion generally exists whenever the words food allergy or food sensitivity enter a sentence. A classical food allergy (such as peanut or shellfish allergy) is usually characterised by an immediate and often severe reaction of the immune system to exposure to a specific food. The symptoms of food allergy include sneezing, rashes, skin irritation, swelling, runny nose, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting. Normally symptoms occur within a few minutes of eating or coming in to contact with the offending food, although they can be delayed by up to two hours.
Food allergy is quite rare with only about 2.5% of the population being diagnosed with the condition. The most common instances of food allergy are to peanuts, tree nuts (almonds and brazils), eggs, milk, fish and shellfish. When exposed to the source of food allergy the body makes specific antibodies (IgE) to ‘fight off’ the allergens found in these foods and when the food is next eaten it triggers an immune system response which results in the release of histamine and other naturally occurring chemicals in the body. Allergic reactions to food can vary considerably in their severity and some can be fatal.
- Reactions are usually delayed and symptoms may take several days to appear.
- You can be sensitive to several different food groups at the same time.
- Sufferers can experience multiple symptoms, from migraine to bloating, diarrhoea, lethargy and a general feeling of unwellness.
- Reactions usually occur quickly, with a maximum of 2 hours after exposure to the ‘reactive’ food.
- Food allergy involves the body’s immune system and is a reaction to a specific food.
- Symptoms include: difficulty breathing, rashes, swelling, runny nose and anaphylactic shock. These can potentially be life threatening.
How does the food sensitivity test work?
The actual test consists of a finger prick for blood analysis, testing for a total of 60 different foods.