Most people have food allergies and are not aware that they do. Why? Because the common conception of food allergy is that your throat closes up and you have to rush to the hospital after eating something you are allergic to. There are many different forms of food allergy, some doctors refer to the less severe reactions as food sensitivities or intolerances rather than allergies. What’s the difference? Your immune system produces five different types of antibodies – IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD and IgE.


IgE Antibodies


IgE antibodies are responsible for the more severe, potentially life threatening allergic reactions like what we associate with peanut allergies. Most people who have these are aware that they have them because the reaction is so immediate and severe. The type of symptoms people can experience with an IgE mediated food allergy reaction are lips tingling, itching in the mouth, throat tightening or closing, difficulty breathing, hives and full blown anaphylactic reaction, usually fairly immediately after exposure to the food allergen. Medical doctors test for IgE related allergies by a skin prick test. IgE antibodies tend to hang out in the skin, so a skin prick is a viable means of testing of this type of antibody.


IgA Antibodies


Celiac disease is an IgA related food allergy to gluten or gliadin a protein similar to gluten. Both are proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut. Oats are often contaminated with gluten from being processed in the same facilities as gluten containing grains. Common symptoms of celiac disease include: anemia, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal cramps and bloating, and irritability. Celiac disease can have severe consequences if sufferers are not following a gluten free diet, so thorough testing for celiac disease is vital. Testing should include blood tests for tissue transglutaminase, anti-endomysial antibodies, IgG and IgA antibodies to gluten/gliadin.


IgG Antibodies


IgG antibodies to foods are extremely common. In testing several hundred patients, only three of them haven’t had any IgG antibodies to foods. The rest have had multiple food intolerances, usually 8-12 and were not aware they had any food allergies. However, once all of the food allergies were known, and these foods were excluded simultaneously, people will usually notice dramatic improvement. The type of symptoms people experience with IgG food allergies are skin rashes like acne, eczema and psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, mucous in the stool, rectal itching, rectal leaking, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, sinus congestion or recurring sinusitis, vaginal irritation not related to yeast, environmental allergies, asthma, arthritis and autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or lupus. IgG antibodies tend to be located in the blood stream, so the best means of detecting IgG food allergies is a simple blood test.


IgM and IgD antibodies are not generally tested for food sensitivities.


Dr. Pamela Frank, ND maintains a busy, diverse naturopathic practice with a special interest in women’s health and fertility. Pamela was twice voted “Best Naturopath in Toronto” by the readers of NOW magazine. She has been the clinic director at Forces of Nature in Toronto ON for the past 12 years and is a member in good standing of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors and Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. Pamela can be reached at Forces of Nature at 416.481.0222 or by email at NoniHerbal.com


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