How Food Allergies and Sensitivities May Be Impacting Your Health – And How to Test For Them

Hives, rash, trouble breathing. You’d know if you had a problem eating a certain food, right?

Not necessarily.

There are a wide range of subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, symptoms associated with food allergies and sensitivities that you might not have connected to the food you eat. Understanding the effects of food intolerances, and taking steps to assess and manage them, can make a world of difference to your immune system, function and grow your overall health.


Food Allergies

We are all familiar with food allergies such as peanut allergies and celiac disease. These are serious food allergies that trigger a fairly instantaneous and acute reaction in the body.

In food allergies, the immune system releases a type of cell or antiboby called IgE (immunoglobulin E). IgE is typically released within minutes of eating the food, and can cause symptoms ranging from skin eruptions (such as hives or eczema), to breathing and digestive problems. In rare cases, food allergies can be life threatening, causing difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

In celiac disease, gluten, a substance found in many grain products, is the trigger. Symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly. In children, they can include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and symptoms of malnutrition such as short stature, anemia, dental defects, failure to thrive and delayed development. In adults, gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea are common, as well as weight loss or weight gain, bone pain, and skin conditions.


Food Sensitivities

More difficult to pinpoint than food allergies are food sensitivities. In this type of reaction, the body releases the antibody IgG (immunoglobulin G). However, unlike with food allergies, it could be hours or even days after eating the food that these antibodies appear.

IgG reactions often occur with common foods such as dairy, eggs, yeast, pork, soy and wheat. The release of IgG causes an inflammatory response in the body and may be linked to:


  • fever, fatigue, sweating and feeling generally weak
  • digestive disorders such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn’s disease, abdominal pain, bloating and gas
  • joint pain, muscle stiffness and swelling
  • migraines
  • mood/attention deficit disorders
  • weight gain
  • sinus congestion
  • bronchitis and asthma symptoms
  • recurring sore throat
  • chronic infections
  • itching, redness, swelling and rashes (including eczema and psoriasis)
  • constipation


Gluten sensitivity may also produce the same symptoms as celiac disease, and if left unchecked can lead to similar long-term complications.

Over time, undiagnosed food sensitivities, like allergies, may lead to chronic illness.

Food Allergy Testing

Allergy testing is the easiest way to determine IgG response in the body.  Because hours or days can pass between when a reactive food is eaten and the onset of symptoms, testing is virtually the only way to determine which foods are causing the reaction.

It consists of a blood test that measures immune response to a panel of foods.  The assessment can provide a 120+ food test allergy panel or a 220+ food test allergy panel. 

Separate testing for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is often recommended. This type of testing is important because standard tests for celiac disease may not look at antibodies for gliadin, the protein found in wheat gluten. Comprehensive celiac profile testing looks for gliadin IgA and IgG antibodies, as well as anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA, present in celiac disease.

Eliminating Reactive Foods

After testing, a naturopathic doctor can formulate a plan to help you eliminate reactive foods you’re your diet. While most people see improvement within a few weeks of eliminating the reactive food(s), results can vary from one person to another.


NEX Wellness offers food allergy testing and food sensitivity testing in Burlington and Hamilton/Binbrook.