Recognizing Food Sensitivities
Vol.6 Issue 2

Submitted by Hope Burkholder
(Daughter of Rich Burkholder, Director, AeroFitness Center)

We hear about them all the time, but what are food sensitivities?

The topic of food sensitivities is an untouched subject to many. Not only that, but most people have never even heard of such a thing. So if the subject has been brought up to you, your mind probably related it to food allergies, and you brushed it off because you already know you’re not allergic to peanuts. But, a food sensitivity is different from a food allergy, and most of us will have at least a handful of food sensitivities happening in our bodies without us even knowing. Let’s review the differences between an allergy and a sensitivity.

Food allergy vs. food sensitivity

A food allergy occurs when the immune system has a reaction to a particular food because it identifies it as a threat instead of nutrition. The immune system should not be reacting at all to the food we eat, as that is not its job. Food allergies are usually obvious, depending on the severity of the allergy, but if you have one, then you probably know it. The cause of a food allergy is unknown but they are sometimes hereditary and usually first appear in childhood, although they are not exclusive to young people and can develop later in life as well. The manifestation of an allergy varies, but can be very serious and even life-threatening. Staying away from a food you are allergic to is critical.

A food sensitivity is a less intense version of an allergy, and typically exhibits symptoms that are not as severe as an allergy, but it does have an impact on your health. Like a food allergy, a food sensitivity occurs when the immune system has a reaction to a food we eat where the immune system sees the food as a threat. However, unlike a food allergy, a food sensitivity is not permanent. The symptoms from a sensitivity will not always occur immediately after eating a reactive food, but may take a few days while the food is being digested. Food sensitivities are commonly formed from consistently consuming the same nutrition over and over again. For those of you who like to stick to a strict diet that is meal-prepped and planned out for the week, this may be especially for you. It’s not uncommon to want to eat the same foods/meals when training in an effort to stay disciplined without having to put much thought into a meal, but this could be doing more harm than good, especially if you are not seeing results or are in any kind of discomfort. Even the healthiest of foods can become harmful. This may not be the case for you, but if you are experiencing discomfort or symptoms that you can’t explain, then it is a possibility. Staying away from a food you are sensitive to is not necessary, in the way that it is not life-threatening, but continued consumption will most-likely lead to continued, if not worsening discomfort.

So what are the symptoms of food sensitivities?

Of course, symptoms will differ from person to person. Sensitivity symptoms will manifest in less severe methods, but in ways that can be disrupting to daily life. Headaches, stomach upset, digestive issues, fatigue, joint pain, skin problems, GI diseases, inflammation, cold symptoms, reflux, depression, anxiety, unexplained weight gain, inability to lose weight, etc. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you take a food sensitivity test. There is no medical treatment necessary for a food sensitivity. All you need to do is remove the reactive food(s) allowing the inflammation and discomfort in your body to settle, and then you can slowly add-in the foods again. Whatever foods show up on your test have the possibility of causing inflammation in the body, even if it is technically a healthy food. So, taking it out of your body for a while allows the swelling and inflammation to subside, which in turn, can result in weight loss.

Surprisingly, this kind of testing is seldom known. Millions of people have gone through their lives without ever discovering their food sensitivities. Ignorance can be bliss, especially when it’s not causing pain. Not knowing what you’re sensitive to means not eliminating some foods that you enjoy, but it also means continued discomfort. We commonly let flavor guide us in our food making decisions, often letting nutrition slip through the gaps. It’s not recommended that you cut flavor from your life, but giving up a few things for a few months is certainly attainable and can be effective in improving health.

Elimination of certain foods from your diet is the sole process of recovery for a food sensitivity.

Elimination of certain foods from your diet is the sole process of recovery for a food sensitivity. A standard 3-month trial is the basic time frame required, but if you find that you have more than a few sensitivities, then the time can be extended to up to a 6-month elimination. There are different ways to go about this process, and you can decide for yourself which is best. A modified version of elimination is to choose 3-5 foods that your body reacts to and eliminate them for 3-months. This is not necessarily recommended, as it prolongs your ability to achieve relief. A basic 3-month elimination could turn into a year or longer of you trying to alleviate your symptoms and sensitivities. Complete elimination is, one of the best ways to tackle your sensitivities. The more disciplined and compliant you are with eliminating the foods your body doesn’t like, the quicker you will see results and put your symptoms into remission. As noted, there is no medical treatment, which actually makes this process easier. That is, if you’re willing to put in the work. Whichever method you choose, remember that you are not banning these foods from your life forever. You will be able to eat them again! You just need to let your body rest from the food for a while. Along with eliminating, it is recommended to change your typical eating routine as well. This includes eating something different every day for four days. So if you have chicken on Monday, try not eating it again until Friday, allowing the body to fully digest the foods you eat while not overloading it with the exact same nutrition. When writing this down on paper this seems like a lot to accomplish, but the execution is less overwhelming in reality. The results will speak for themselves.

How you can get tested?

There are many different tests you can order online to do at home. It’s as simple as pricking your finger and dropping some blood on a test sheet and sending it into a designated lab. Test results usually take around 2-3 days to obtain. There are also some places you can go to have the test performed in an office if you prefer.

Whether it’s to lose weight, be rid of inflammation, alleviate various symptoms, or improve your overall well-being, it may be worth finding out about your food sensitivities.

I have personally done this test, and it made a big difference for me. Compliance with elimination is necessary in order to see results and rid oneself of exasperating symptoms - otherwise there is no point in doing it. I hope you can gain some clarity from the test and reap the benefits of relieving your body from the stress and inflammation caused by your sensitivities. – Hope Burkeholder

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