Do you have symptoms that seem to mysteriously come and go, such as brain fog, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, or digestive issues? Maybe you generally just don’t feel “right”, and suspect it might have to do with your diet. If so, you may be dealing with a food sensitivity.

You may be eating a clean diet, so why would you have a sensitivity? Aren’t sensitivities for people who don’t eat well to begin with? The truth is, you may be sensitive to something even if you are eating a clean, Paleo, or vegan diet.

That’s right, something you eat on a regular basis might just be causing all these symptoms. You might even think it’s a “healthy” food, but it could very well be to blame for all the strange feelings you’re experiencing.

The other problem many people face is the question of whether they’re dealing with a food sensitivity vs an allergy. How do you know which is which?

Once you understand how food intolerance works, you’ll likely wonder what your next steps should be. I’d like to personally invite you to The Myers WayⓇ 30-Day Transformation, a FREE program that can completely change your life and help you reclaim your health!

In this article, I will answer the question “what is a food sensitivity” (hint: it is NOT the same as a food allergy!), help you identify if you have one or the other, and what to do about it.

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Food Sensitivity vs Allergy

I want to note that a food allergy and a food sensitivity are two very different things. A food allergy triggers an extreme and potentially life-threatening reaction, known as an IgE-mediated immune response. This happens whenever you come in contact with certain foods, like peanuts or strawberries.1

Most allergic reactions happen within minutes. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include hives or stomach cramping, while severe symptoms include anaphylaxis, which can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, and affect your heart rate.2

A food sensitivity is more difficult to diagnose because it triggers an IgG reaction in your system. This is a delayed immune response, meaning it could take up to 72 hours for food sensitivity symptoms to present themselves. The problem with this delayed response is that you probably eat a wide range of foods in the time it takes for symptoms to appear. This makes it difficult for you to spot a pattern between the specific foods you eat and your symptoms.

For example, let’s say you’ve been having migraine headaches and digestive issues. You eat scrambled eggs, fresh sliced tomatoes, and a banana every morning for breakfast. You think maybe it’s something in your breakfast that’s bothering you. On Monday you decide not to have the scrambled eggs to see if you get migraines and digestive issues. Later on in the day, the headache and digestive issues are still there, so on Tuesday, you decide to try eliminating the tomatoes and your symptoms once again return. Well, it could be that the eggs from two days prior are actually causing your migraines and digestive issues, and it’s just taken this long for the sensitivity symptoms to appear.

Additionally, food sensitivities can produce a wide array of symptoms depending on which area of your body the antibodies attack. So you may not even realize that your skin rashes or joint pain are diet-related.

Food Sensitivities Occur Gradually

Why do food sensitivities take days to produce symptoms? For many people, your symptoms may go unnoticed, or seem so mild you don’t think there is a problem. 

When you are dealing with a food sensitivity, there is a chemical process going on inside your body. The food you eat begins to break down during the digestion process, and normally enzymes help this process run smoothly. 

As you age, however, your body begins producing less and less of these important enzymes. This can negatively affect proper digestion, which in turn can create an environment more prone to inflammation . This is why most adults are sensitive to dairy because they lose the enzyme, lactase, that helps break down lactose sugars found in many dairy products.

One way to reduce the unpleasant effects of food sensitivities is to reintroduce these enzymes back into your diet. My Complete Enzymes offers a broad spectrum blend of plant and microbial-based enzymes to help break down proteins and maximize digestion.

Common Signs of Food Sensitivity

How do you know if you’re dealing with a food sensitivity or something else? It’s an important question, because oftentimes these symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses or health issues. 

Knowing the most common signs of food sensitivities can help you determine whether an elimination diet is right for you. Some of the most common ones out there are:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Eczema
  • Rashes and skin irritations
  • Stomach aches
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Behavioral issues (in children)

Fortunately, with a scientific approach, you can take out the guesswork and identify which foods are causing your symptoms.

What To Do About Food Sensitivities

The best way to discover your personal food sensitivities is to complete an elimination diet. This means you take out the most common inflammatory foods from your diet and then add them back in one at a time to see if you have a reaction. It’s like getting to do your own science experiment on your diet!

The first stage of the elimination diet is removing all toxic and inflammatory foods from your diet. These include sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, eggs, soy, citrus, legumes, and nightshade vegetables. You will also be avoiding all GMOs, processed foods, artificial preservatives, and trans fats. 

Toxic & Inflammatory Foods to Avoid - What is a Food Sensitivity - Infographic - Amy Myers MD®

After removing all of these foods from your diet for 30 days, you will begin to slowly reintroduce the inflammatory foods one at a time. This will help determine your body’s response to individual foods.

Toxic foods are never to be reintroduced back into your diet once they are gone. Gluten and dairy are the top two most inflammatory foods and I do not recommend ever adding them back in, particularly if you have an autoimmune or thyroid condition.

Reintroduction Phase

As I mentioned earlier, once the two weeks (or more if needed) are up, you will choose one particular food to eat. Eat it three times a day for three days. The idea here is to temporarily bombard your system with each food to produce a noticeable and definitive response. 

Here are step-by-step instructions for the reintroduction process:

  • Introduce one food at a time
  • Eat the reintroduction food three times a day for three days
  • Record whether or not you experience any symptoms
  • Go back to the program for three days in between each reintroduction food
  • If you have a reaction, take the food back out and return to the program guidelines until you are symptom-free
  • If you don’t have a reaction, take the food back out until you have finished the reintroduction phase
  • Add all safe foods back in after you’ve completed the reintroduction phase

By paying close attention during this phase, you can pinpoint exactly which foods trigger a reaction and what types of symptoms they produce.

It is enlightening and empowering to finally identify what’s been causing your symptoms and, best of all, put an end to them!

IgG Food Sensitivity Blood Test

Blood tests are another way to determine your personal food sensitivity, but I always recommend an elimination diet first. This is because your body knows better than any test. 

The only caveat to this is that even a comprehensive elimination diet only tests the most common inflammatory foods. If you want to go a step further, food sensitivity testing is a great way to comprehensively analyze different foods. 

I’ve personally found the best results with a company called Cyrex. They use a blood test to measure your immune response to 180 foods in both their raw and cooked form. Each food is then given a green, yellow, or red light ranking, so you know which foods are safe, which to watch out for or minimize, and which to avoid completely.

The advantage of doing the blood test in conjunction with following an elimination diet is that it lets you collect as much information as possible about what is going on inside your body. The downside of this type of testing is that it is not always 100% accurate.

For example, if you have leaky gut, you may show a reaction to food particles that are escaping into your bloodstream that would not normally trigger an immune response if your gut was healthy. Also, if you have already removed a food from your diet for health reasons, you could get a false negative since your body is not currently producing antibodies for that food for the test to detect.

At the end of the day, how you feel is the best indicator. Knowing and really listening to your body is going to be what gets you the best results.

Outlook On Food Sensitivities

Dealing with gut, skin, and other health issues can be frustrating. The good news is that by learning the connection between your symptoms and food, you can take charge of your health once again. 

Knowing whether you have a food allergy or food sensitivity is the first step to taking back your health. Food allergies can be a permanent condition. However, food sensitivities are often temporary and can even resolve themselves by undergoing an elimination diet. Healing the gut will change the course of your health for the better. I’ve created the Leaky Gut Breakthrough Kit that addresses both food sensitivities and leaky gut issues. This kit combines a powerful blend of probiotics, gut-healing collagen proteins, and digestive enzymes to soothe an irritated immune response from being constantly exposed to food triggers. It also includes Gut ImmunIGⓇ, a revolutionary colostrum alternative that binds to potentially toxic antigens within the digestive tract, promoting a healthy inflammatory response.

I’ve created the Leaky Gut Breakthrough Kit that addresses both food sensitivities and leaky gut issues. This kit combines a powerful blend of probiotics, gut-healing collagen proteins, and digestive enzymes to soothe an irritated immune response from being constantly exposed to food triggers. It also includes Gut ImmunIGⓇ, a revolutionary colostrum alternative that binds to potentially toxic antigens within the digestive tract, promoting a healthy inflammatory response.

4 powerful supplements working together to support healthy gut function. Get your kit now. Leaky Gut Breakthrough Kit.

Are you ready to join the thousands of others who are making the decision to better their health? Join us for The Myers Way® 30-Day Transformation this January to discover your personal food triggers. Whether you’ve been experiencing unrelenting symptoms or you simply want to take charge of your health this new year, the 30-day transformation is the perfect way to kickstart 2024. 

When you join the transformation, you’ll receive a comprehensive guide to follow throughout the journey full of recipes, supplement recommendations, inspiration, and resources to help keep you on track. In addition, you’ll join a community of like-minded individuals who want to identify their personal food sensitivities, increase energy and vitality, and optimize health this year. 

Article Sources

  1. Food Intolerances. Caroline J Tuck, Jessica R Biesiekierski, et al.. National Library of Medicine. 2019.
  2. Food Allergies and Intolerances: A Clinical Approach to the Diagnosis and Management of Adverse Reactions to Food. Frances Onyimba, M.D., et al. AGA Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2021.