Maybe it is not an allergy to something in our environment but to something that we have eaten. That skin rash or sneezing after we ate something could be a food allergy. Or, it could a food intolerance.
So, if you are not getting a response from taking medications like an anti-histamine, your symptoms might from a food allergy or food intolerance.
But is there a difference between food allergies and food intolerances?
What is a Food Allergy?
Most food allergies are followed with an immediate response and involve skin rashes, swollen lips, and/or tongue and in some cases stuffy nose. They are also not “dose-dependent”; in other words, you only need to eat a bite to get a reaction.
You will have a higher chance of having a food allergy if you have environmental allergies as there is cross-reaction with environmental allergens and certain foods.
So, you are allergic to ragweed, there is a high probability that you will be allergic to cucumbers.
How can you tell if you have a food allergy? Well, the immediate reaction is the first clue. Eat a bite of an apple, get swollen lips, there is a good chance you are allergic to apples.
You can be tested for food allergies using a skin prick test but it is very inaccurate. Blood or serum tests for food allergies are also highly inaccurate.
If you are going to test for food allergies, make sure that the test is testing for what is referred to as the IgE response, not IgG response. How do you know? Check with the lab or the practitioner that you are working with.
Most of the inexpensive and common lab testing for food sensitivities only test for IgG response which is very inaccurate. Testing for food sensitivities is completely different than testing for food allergies. Testing for food sensitivities tests for reactions to the sugars in food while testing for food allergies tests for the proteins in food.
Do your homework when looking for lab testing for food allergies or food sensitivities. My favorite lab for just food allergies is Dunwoody Labs. Contact me to learn more about testing and how you can get tested for food allergies.
Are Food Sensitivities the Same as Food Allergies?
In a nutshell, no. First, food sensitivities are dosage-dependent and secondly, the reaction is delayed. So that omelet with 3 eggs may take until the evening to get a response. Food sensitivity reactions are usually constipation, diarrhea, headaches, joint pain, and brain fog versus the runny nose or sniffles.
The most accurate food sensitivity testing is MRT from Oxford Labs. Why? Because they test multiple immune responses to 170 foods and chemicals. The MRT test is one of the few lab tests that tests for chemicals; some of these chemicals relate to food intolerances like tyramine (think red wine).
Included with this lab test is a comprehensive elimination diet and how to overcome food sensitivities with the LEAP program which is part of my Resolve Food Sensitivities Program.
But What About Food Intolerances?
The most common food intolerance that causes allergic-like symptoms in some people is histamine intolerance. Most food intolerances are caused by lack of the enzyme or poor gut health (poor microbiome) which supports the breakdown of common food chemicals like histamine and lactose from dairy products.
Histamine is found the highest in fermented foods, preserved meats, cheese, canned fish, and alcoholic beverages. For some people, they will react with sneezing and sniffling after they consume enough histamine rich foods. Other common reactions are:
- Headaches, Migraines
- Brain Fog
- Bloody Noses
- Sniffling, Sneezing, Watery Eyes
- Blood Pressure – Low
- GERD, Heartburn
- Skin Rashes
- Psoriasis, Eczema
Almost all food intolerances are related to genomics – nutrigenomics. Certain gene variants will reduce the enzyme function that breakdown food chemicals like histamine, lactose, sulfur, and tyramine.
Food intolerance testing – it is very challenging to test for food intolerances and it is usually a trial and error process. You can test for histamine intolerance though Dunwoody Labs but other food intolerances are difficult at best to test for.
Ever Notice that We Get Allergies as We Get Older?
Maybe it is really is histamine intolerance? Ever notice those “allergies” get worse as we get older? There might be a connection here.
As we get older, our digestion can become impaired. For one, we produce less gastric acid as we get older which means we don’t absorb nutrients from our or breakdown food very well.
It doesn’t help that we also start taking digestive aids like proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec or H2 blockers (Zantac); both of which lower stomach acid reducing the breakdown of foods. This also leads to partially broken-down food in our digestive system which can feed opportunistic bacteria like yeast in our gut.
In some cases, our intestines become “leaky” where broken-down food actually leaks out and this creates an immune response which can result in food sensitivities, and intolerances. Leaky gut is one of the key causes of us becoming intolerant to histamine in food.
Managing histamine levels depends on a healthy gut, balanced microbiota, and nutrients like vitamin B6. It has been shown that some bacteria actually produce histamine and if you have an overgrowth this will make your more histamine intolerant.
Nutrients like vitamin B6 helps us to produce the enzymes known as diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO helps to block the absorption of too much histamine and with a reduced function of DAO, it can lead to intolerance.
Looking for another alternative to OTC meds for allergies? Try Allerstop today!
Nutrigenomics & Histamine Intolerance
For me, my discovery of my histamine intolerance was just using a food journal and trying to connect the dots to my migraines. After a while, I realized that the combination of red wine, pizza was sure to trigger for migraine the next day. All foods are high in histamine even the tomato sauce.
After getting my first genomic test it became crystal clear why had such a tendency towards histamine intolerance. I had many variants in the pathway that helps to breakdown histamine or block absorption of histamine from food.
Histamine intolerance is related to gene variants in, MTHFR, vitamin B6, HNMT, COMT, and DAO. And, if you have a reduced function in methylation, this also can impact your metabolism of histamine.
With my genomic solutions packages, you can get tested and evaluated for as low as $499.00 including the test. Unfortunately, the 23and Me raw data no longer tests for the important histamine variants. Get started today with my free 15 min. Complimentary Consult to learn more.
What if You Are Histamine Intolerant?
A good journal is the first step to determining if you an intolerance. Record your food and symptoms. If fermented foods or other foods high in histamine, tend to cause a delayed reaction, then you might be histamine intolerant. Remember food intolerances are dosage-dependent – it might take a whole day of eating high histamine foods before you get a reaction.
Still can’t seem to get to the underlying cause of your allergy symptoms? Then start with a food sensitivities test – now offering stand-alone blood spot tests for as low as $249.00 through Vibrant America. Eliminate those foods and see if the symptom subsides after at least 30 days
Eileen Schutte, MS, CN, FMN – One of my biggest passions is to help clients overcome autoimmune skin conditions like psoriasis, naturally. My other passion is nutrigenomics, speaking to your genes through nutrition, and providing a truly personalized nutrition approach. I hold a master's degree in functional nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude. After completing my masters I went on to get my certification in functional nutrition medicine, and am a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities program).