Can Food Sensitivities and Food Intolerances Kill You?
Allergies, sensitivities and intolerances are all different, but they’re also very similar. They are caused by an immune reaction, but the difference is in the timing. Allergy is immediate and intolerance is delayed, making it harder to pinpoint the offending food. Allergic reactions release histamine, which is why they show up on skin-prick tests, while intolerances don’t. But the cause is similar: a food protein (allergy) or a food chemical (intolerance)—and so are the symptoms: a rash, stomach complaints, breathing difficulties, etc. Because an allergy can be life-threatening, it cannot be ignored. Intolerance, on the other hand, may lead to lifelong illness, so maybe it’s about time we paid it some more attention.
Intolerances and sensitivities are different, but are still an immune response. Our bodies see these invaders, such as food chemicals, as they would a virus or bacteria that’s inside a cell, they attach to the cell and either engulf it or destroy it. It’s an abnormal physiological response to food chemicals, and can be caused by naturally-occurring compounds such as minerals, salicylates, vitamins, amines, glutamates, amino acids, gluten and milk protein, to name a few.
Reactions are much slower than for allergies, usually taking 12 hours or sometimes days to show up, and the reaction can depend on how much is eaten as well as what is eaten with it. This is why food intolerances can cause chronic health complaints, such as constant fatigue, brain fog, respiratory infections, diarrhea, bloating, digestive pain, chronic pain, constant inflammation and migraines—because we don’t know what the cause is and keep eating it. This chronic inflammatory state is not a happy place to be. Not only is it uncomfortable and debilitating, but it can lead to more serious complaints down the track, like fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, cancer and more.
Here are some of the chemical released by the immune system when we are suffering from sensitivities or intolerances and the kinds of symptoms they can cause us to have.
Prostaglandins can cause pain, shortness of breath, fast heart rate/heart palpitations, flushing, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Histamines can bring on headaches, itching, burning sensations, crampy abdominal pain and general sense of anxiety with “odd” body sensations.
Cytokines may produce fever, sense of impending doom, memory loss, brain fog, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, sleepiness, fatigue, depression and anxiety.
If these chemicals cause us to feel bad, why does our body release them in the first place? These chemicals play an important role in the body’s defense because they notify other immune cells that a potential “threat” has been found, like a virus, bacteria or parasite. Without these chemicals we would probably die from a simple infection.
Our immune system will make what’s called an “antibody” to the food (or nutrient) intolerance/sensitivity. The antibody latches onto the allergic food like the space shuttle latches onto the space station. When that happens, science calls it a circulating immune complex (CIC). As soon as a CIC is formed, it sets off another round of internal (and sometimes delayed) allergic reactions, which causes more symptoms. If the body doesn’t get rid of it, the CIC will leave the bloodstream and settle somewhere in the body. CICs settle in our muscles, brain, gut, joints, tissues and organs. Once there, they set off constant and more rounds of allergic reactions, causing even more symptoms over the months and years.
These sensitive foods and immune complexes can go anywhere our blood goes—that’s everywhere. So a food reaction can cause a symptom or problem anywhere in our body and brain. Imagine, if the foods or CICs went to our bladder, we might have to go to the bathroom every hour all night long. (But of course, the MD can’t find anything wrong with our bladder or kidneys.) If they went to our arms and hands, we might have swelling, tingling or pain there. If they went to our endocrine and reproductive system, we may suffer from endometriosis, cysts/fibroids, chronic bleeding and pain. If they end up in the brain, we might have anxiety, become depressed or have “brain fog”.
So, what can we do? There are only two ways to address food sensitivities/intolerances: avoidance and treatment. Avoidance becomes an exhausting game of cat-and-mouse, and is nearly impossible when we are reactive to nutrients which are in everything, such as minerals, vitamins or amino acids. Treatment is a better option. Biofeedback testing is a permanent and effective treatment to eliminate sensitivities for good. It is non-invasive, quick and painless.
If you or your family is suffering from food sensitivities/intolerance, please don’t take them lightly. Mention this article for $200 off the full series of Biofeedback Testing at Tucson Biofeedback. Connect at 520-314-6894. See ad, pages 12 and 15.