Food Sensitivity or Food Allergy?
Have you ever wondered if what your child is eating could be having a negative impact on their health? Unfortunately, this is more common than most people think.
Many of my patients’ parents are under the impression that because no food allergies have been identified that food could not be the source of their child’s health issues. In my practice, I always discuss food sensitivities with parents as removing these foods can lead to significant improvements in the child’s health. People often confuse food sensitivities and food allergies and it’s important to understand the difference.
"A food allergy means that the immune system will create an immediate response after ingesting the food the person is allergic to. This response will be in the form of swelling, hives, a rash and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. A food sensitivity means that the immune system will create a delayed response and symptoms vary from headaches to digestive symptoms to recurrent colds. This delayed reaction can occur over several hours to several days."
Clinically, it is extremely important to identify food sensitivities in order to get the best results when dealing with certain conditions. So how can you figure out what foods your child is sensitive to?
There are two main strategies that Naturopathic Doctors use to do this:
Elimination diet: also known as hypoallergenic diet, this approach involves the removal of the most common allergens for at least 6 weeks and then reintroducing one food at a time. If symptoms come back while a food has been reintroduced, likely that food is a trigger and it should be removed from the diet.
IgG food sensitivity test: this is a blood test that measures the complexes that are formed by the immune system in reaction to a food that the person is sensitive to. A blood sample can be obtained from drawing blood from a vein or a finger prick, the latter being the preferred method for young children.
Each of these methods has its own pros and cons and it is important to speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to determine which approach is best for your little one. Regardless of the method chosen, deciding to remove food triggers will be the next step and this should be done under the guidance of a health professional to ensure that your child’s nutrient needs are still being met. Dealing with food sensitivities is not always easy but with the right support, it may result in a stronger immune system, healthier skin, improved digestion and behaviour.
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This article and the information it contains should not replace advice given to you by a qualified healthcare professional who is familiar with your medical history and current state of health.