My fuzzy brain, IBS, acid reflux, fibromyalgia, and joint pain. Could these be caused by foods I'm eating everyday? We've been getting a lot of questions recently about food allergies. Because this topic can really be confusing, I wanted to take this opportunity to try and help answer some of these questions. What I'm finding, at the crux of this confusion, is that the term "food allergy" is used as an umbrella term for any abnormal reaction caused by food.
So, what's first helpful to understand is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. While there are some shared symptoms between food allergies and intolerance ( these can include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea) there are also many differences between the two reactions. Both of these reactions can be extremely troublesome in their own way and they both deserve our attention.
A food allergy is very problematic in the short term. The symptoms can vary, but usually include shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, rash or itchy skin, chest pain, or even a sudden drop in blood pressure. These are symptoms which need immediate attention and care, sometimes in the form of epinephrine. Some common food allergies include peanuts, shellfish, soy, eggs, and wheat.
Alternatively, food intolerances occur when your body has trouble digesting a particular food. While this doesn't require acute care, it certainly deserves our immediate attention because of what it can do to your health in the long run if left alone. The more noticeable symptoms of food intolerances include headaches, nervousness, cramps, gas, bloating, and heartburn. Long term, these intolerances can contribute to a range of health problems, ranging from lack of energy to gastrointestinal issues and inflammation. Some common food intolerances include lactose, food additives, and gluten.
There are several ways to detect food intolerances. One way is through the elimination of the more frequent offenders, such as dairy and gluten, then seeing how your body reacts. While this can be helpful, it really doesn't give us a full picture of where you stand with each of the foods, or for how long they will need to be eliminated.
In order to get a complete picture, we have found a food study to be the most comprehensive. It gives us a very specific analysis of your severe, moderate, and mild food allergies and intolerances. It can help us figure out exactly how long you need to cut out certain foods so that your body can learn to process them correctly. Many times, it is simply a matter of cutting out a food for several months in order to allow your immune system to readjust and build up a tolerance again. Then, when it does get added back in, the we are able to use the results once again to tell us exactly how much and how often each of the foods can be added back in safely.
Here's what one of our patients has to say:
Earlier this year I came to see Dr Watts for my annual check up. I had been suffering with all sorts of symptoms that seemed to plague other friends my age (62): joint pain in my fingers, stomach pains and bloating, and a lack of energy in the afternoons. Worst of all, my thinking was really fuzzy, making it hard to feel productive in my career. Dr Watts ordered a food study and discovered that I had developed sensitivities to several foods that I ate on a regular basis. I am following the program of eliminating those foods and then slowly reintroducing them into my diet after 6 months. Within a week of changing my diet, most of the symptoms were gone. I was thrilled and so relieved to find out that I was in the driver's seat again with my health and my daily sense of well-being. I am so grateful for the team of professionals at The Renewal Point! -R.B.