It is important to distinguish between food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances since the treatment for each is different:
A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system. This occurs when your body’s natural defenses overreact to an exposure to a particularly substance, treating is as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend against it. The symptoms can be everything from rashes and itching to swelling that can turn fatal.
Food intolerance or sensitivity don’t involve the immune system.
Food Intolerance means you lack the enzymes needed to break down and absorb
certain ingredients. The inability to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products,
is a common food intolerance.
Food Sensitivity is an individual’s adverse physical response to a certain food,
beverage, or ingredient.
Both refer to difficulty in digesting certain foods. Symptoms of food intolerance tend to take longer to appear than symptoms of allergies. Onset typically occurs several hours after ingesting the offending food or compound and may persist for several hours or days. In some cases, symptoms may take 48 hours to arrive.
The symptoms are varied and can include but are not limited to bloating, gas, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, IBS, headaches, heartburn, fatigue, “brain fog”, nervousness or irritability.
The initial goal is to identify the problem foods. The best approach is to implement a short-term elimination diet (individualized, MRT, FODMAP) or a personalized new plan that includes what to avoid as well as what to eat. The non-tolerated trigger foods then need to be challenged to determine tolerance – when symptoms recur. This challenge phase includes food combinations as well as frequency and quantities, total load and cumulative effects of the trigger foods. Lastly, a diversified and enjoyable symptom free food plan is developed.
Nancy, a NYS certified nutritionist and registered dietitian, works closely with patients and their physicians to develop a healthy sustainable nutrition program. Consultations include dietary evaluation, nutrition education, behavior modification and an individualized food plan. Dietary recommendations include specific foods and patterns of food choices with consideration for each person’s life style and food preferences as well as specific health related needs
Nancy has a private practice, serving clients in Long Island, Queens and Greater New York. Online nutrition consultations are available.