Food Allergies: Cause, Symptoms and Solutions…

We all need to eat for our bodies to receive the nutrients and energy required to live a full and active life.

But, just as every one of us is an individual with different and unique needs, foods that work for you may cause real health problems to someone else.

Such health issues manifest themselves as reactions to specific foods. Among these are reactions known as classic food allergies and other reactions called “delayed food allergies” (more commonly known as food intolerances), which are gaining prominence because of their longer term effects on our health and lifestyle.

If delayed food allergies are allowed to continue, they can lead to chronic health problems and become a major disruption to everyday life.  Fortunately, there are ways to identify and deal with delayed food allergies.

What is the difference between a “classic” and a “delayed” food allergy?

With both types of allergy, the body’s immune system becomes involved.

On the whole, foodstuffs are not harmful. However, both classic and delayed food allergies are caused by the body treating a harmless food protein as if it were harmful. When this happens, the immune system sees the food protein as an invading agent – like it would with bacteria, parasites and viruses. These invading agents are called antigens, and the immune system produces antibodies to fight against them.

When confronted with a classic food allergy your body reacts almost immediately. On the other hand, the reaction to a delayed food allergy (or intolerance to foods) may take days (up to 72 hours) to appear. This difference in speed of reaction is caused by the immune system producing different antibodies in the fight against the different allergies.

Different antibodies for different allergies

In the case of a classic food allergy, also known as allergy type I, the immune system produces IgE antibodies. Someone with a type I allergy to peanuts will probably know immediately. The symptoms will appear within seconds or minutes – swelling, breathing difficulties, rash, itchy skin and even anaphylactic shock.  Identification of such an allergy is normally pretty straightforward, with IgE tests used for confirmation of the allergy (traditionally, a scratch or skin-prick test).

Fortunately, classic food allergies are rare.

More common are delayed food allergies (allergy type III), in which the immune system produces IgG antibodies. These cause a delayed reaction (as long as three days) leading to inflammation which can become chronic. The symptoms of delayed food allergy can include gastrointestinal issues (IBS, diarrhea, bloating etc), migraine, obesity, joint pain, skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis or acne, even depression and anxiety.

Because of the delay in symptoms manifesting, it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint which foods causing a type III allergy.

How to detect delayed food allergies

An IgG food allergy test is the best way to identify your delayed food allergies, by testing the specific IgG antibodies in your blood serum against individual foods.

With many different kinds of IgG tests on the market it is important to do your research and make sure the test you choose is accurate, reliable and scientifically validated.  You can read more about different test methods for IgG by clicking here.