Can food allergies be the source of debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraines, excess weight gain or loss? Absolutely! While there can be other causes for symptoms you may be experiencing, exploring the role that food intake plays in our overall wellbeing is worth exploring.
Often, when you think of food allergies, the idea of swollen lips and face, difficulty breathing, and the threat of death comes to mind. These symptoms represent an anaphylaxis reaction that is very serious and can lead to death. In these cases, you should proceed to the nearest Emergency Room for treatment. Common foods that cause an anaphylactic reaction include shellfish and nuts, but there are other foods that can elicit severe reactions. If you have ever had a skin prick test, then the doctor was testing to see if you have allergies to foods that would cause a life threatening immediate reaction, or and IgE (immediate) immune reaction. However, a skin prick test does not test for an IgG reaction which is a delayed immune reaction and a far more common immune reaction to food. IgE reactions are fairly easy to recognize in that if you eat a Strawberry and your lips tingle and swell up, you are experiencing an IgE reaction and you know it right now. An IgG reaction, however, is more difficult to isolate, especially when it comes to recognizing which foods are eliciting a reaction. This is because an IgG reaction is delayed and the effects of the reaction can take up to 3 days to surface. In addition, we often crave the foods that are most problematic so we have repeated exposure to the substance that is causing our symptoms. This can lead to an ongoing problem such as a headache that won’t go away, constant constipation or diarrhea, or skin reactions such as eczema.
There are two ways to help determine if your symptoms are caused by the foods you are eating. The first is a food allergy test which consists of taking a small amount of blood and sending it to a lab for testing. The second is by doing an elimination diet. If you think you might have food allergies, you can take a quick quiz (see below) to help determine if food allergy testing might be right for you.