I think most of us who suffer from food sensitivities have all heard the same thing in our early days of searching for answers: “honey, it’s all in your head.” The headaches – that’s nothing; the sinus and ear infections – just part of growing up; the stomach aches and irregular bowel movements – let’s call that IBS.
It’s hard enough to finally realize that the food you’ve been eating your whole life has been at the root of your problems – but it’s even harder to find health care providers who are open minded enough to even explore that possibility. One of the women who attended my last workshop at the Quinte Naturopathic Centre was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease, despite repeatedly complaining to her doctors for decades. Thankfully, the growth of the holistic health care field in recent years has given us a pool of highly trained professionals who are open minded and see us a whole, rather than a “syndrome”.
So I was quite disturbed when I came across an article in the Toronto Star today (originally published in the NY Times) that basically said: most people who THINK they have food allergies, in fact DON’T! I even came across another blog post today that quoted a doctor saying something very similar. He had even gone so far as to say that most people who say they have an intolerance to food, but do not have a true allergy, are basically nuts (I closed the window before I could bookmark the page).
Well, yes, most people who say they have a food “allergy” probably don’t. But most people also mistakenly describe their adverse reactions as an “allergy” when in fact it might be an “intolerance” or even a “disease”.
Secondly, the article only discussed IgE antibody tests to test for allergic reactions, when true food allergies in fact should be diagnosed with both IgE and IgG tests. That’s because while the IgE blood test will identify the body’s immediate response to a food allergen (a reaction seen within 2 hours of exposure), the IgG blood test will identify the body’s delayed response to a food allergen.
An IgE mediated response causes anything from anaphylactic shock to hives and wheezing; wheras an IgG mediated response can cause those more elusive symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, chronic infections and gastrointestinal complaints. Then, of course, there’s the added layer of testing which is required for a certain diagnosis of Celiac disease, which is a stomach biopsy.
As I’ve said many times before – YOU have to be your own advocate and watchdog for your own health. Our bodies are naturally resiliant, strong and healthy… as long as we are giving it what it needs (nutritious food, exercise, rest), and denying it the things it doesn’t (toxins, stress, allergens). My best advice – do your research, and find a qualified and open-minded health care practitioner with whom you can have a productive discussion about your health and your health goals. Because if you’re not feeling 100% – it’s probably NOT just in your head.