Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Over the last two decades, there has been a significant evolution in the landscape of food allergies and sensitivities, marked by increased awareness, improved diagnostic practices, and changing environmental and dietary factors. The rise in awareness and education surrounding these conditions has led to more accurate diagnosis and management strategies. Advances in medical testing have facilitated the identification of food allergies and sensitivities, while changes in dietary habits, environmental factors, and hygiene practices have been proposed as contributing factors to their increased prevalence. Moreover, the recognition of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and improvements in food labeling and regulations have further shaped the understanding and management of food-related immune reactions. These developments underscore the complex interplay between genetics, environment, and lifestyle in the context of food-related allergies and sensitivities.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity?

A food allergy is a condition where the body's immune system reacts to certain proteins found in food. These reactions can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, can be life-threatening. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. A true food allergy is an IgE-mediated reaction, which means that it is caused by the production of a specific type of antibody called IgE. These types of allergies usually cause immediate symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. These symptoms can be treated with an epinephrine injection, antihistamines and corticosteroids. Food allergies are usually diagnosed by an allergist with tests such as skin prick test, blood test or oral food challenge.

Food sensitivities are different from food allergies in that they are caused by different immune mechanisms and the symptoms are usually delayed, taking hours or even days to appear after consuming the food. Food sensitivities are usually caused by IgG antibodies, which are a different type of antibody than the IgE antibodies that cause true food allergies. Food sensitivities can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, pain, brain fog, digestive symptoms, sleep disturbances, skin reactions such as eczema, acne, and rashes, weight changes, headaches, and migraines. These symptoms can be difficult to pinpoint as they may not appear immediately after consuming the food and can be subtle. Food sensitivity testing is usually done by an allergist or a healthcare provider, and include tests such as ELISA, RAST, or elimination diet.

How are food allergies and sensitivities treated?

At Ananta Health, Dr. Risk uses BioScan SRT testing to ascertain food sensitivities. This testing exposes the patient to the food, then records the body's response. One of the main concerns when someone has food allergies or sensitivities is determining the main cause of the inflammation that is causing the reaction. The BioScan SRT is also used to screen for candida, parasites, Lyme disease, heavy metals, bacteria and viruses that could be contributing to the root cause of the patient's health concern. With these results, a treatment plan is created for the patient that will include dietary and lifestyle changes, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and supplements and herbs.

How can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture may be able to help individuals with food sensitivities in several ways.

  • It can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can be a contributing factor to food sensitivity symptoms.
  • Acupuncture can also help to improve digestion, which can be beneficial for those with food sensitivities as poor digestion can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Acupuncture can also help to regulate the immune system, which can be beneficial for individuals with food sensitivities as their immune system is overreacting to certain foods.
  • Acupuncture can also help to reduce stress, which can be beneficial for individuals with food sensitivities as stress can worsen symptoms.
  • Acupuncture may also help to regulate the nervous system, which can be beneficial for individuals with food sensitivities as it can help to reduce pain, improve sleep and reduce anxiety.