Often the terms like Allergies, Sensitivities and Intolerances are used interchangeably but all of them are different. There is epidemic of Food sensitivites now a days.
By allergies means you get symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing episode, airway constriction, itching, rashes when you are exposed to certain foods or particle. The body releases histamines a compound to counteract that allergic food or particle. They are short-lived because of the antibodies they are mediated through.
Then there are Food intolerance which mean you don’t have the enzymes or substrate require to process or metabolize that particular food or particle such as Lactose or Gluten intolerance. If you don’t have Lactase enzyme to digest the lactose contained in milk you get reactions like diarrhoea, gas or indigestion. The intolerance is easy to detect and if you stop that particular food there are no symptoms or if you can digest
With Food sensitivities you don’t get instant reactions by release of histamines and neither you get symptoms of intolerance are usually masked and systemic as these are mediated through different antibodies. Food sensitivities are like under flame working silently with no possible visible reactions. They are harder to detect and the effects develop gradually over time and are main underlying causes of many chronic health issues. The symptoms can range from headaches, migraines, joint pains, inflammation to brain fog, mild or moderate stomach issues and immunity issues.
Reason of Food sensitivities: The main reason is Leaky Gut syndrome. To understand this we have to look how digestion happens. First the food is being chewed and passed to stomach where HCL and pepsin acts to breakdown the food into smaller particles. Then it’s passed on to smaller intestine where digestive enzymes are released along with bile to digest different food forms. The major assimilation happens in small intestine.
Where things go wrong: HCL is necessary to breakdown food particles plus it act as a potential barrier against the microbes entering through food and water. Low HCL levels work against it and the pH level increases (actually its 2-3) which fosters the growth of pathogenic bacteria. On top of that it also interfere with proper digestion of food. The undigested food particles without being broken down properly entered into smaller intestine.
Note that if all that condition is combined with wrong food (highly processed foods, junk, sugar), stress and not chewing properly, then it add fuel to fire.
Stress slows down digestion process because of overactive sympathetic system, you are not relaxed, stress causes suppression of acid and enzyme release, processed food changed the healthy flora and there is overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and other pathogens.
The undigested food stays there for longer time because body want to digest it, the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and other yeast get attached to wall of intestine to absorb the nutrients and grow themselves and ultimately the walls of intestine get perforation or leaks. The cell layer of intestine from where assimilation happens is extremely thin and potential risk of damage.
Now when you have leaky gut and food is not being digested due to any of the reasons mentioned above, the undigested food particles somehow get their way through that leaky gut into blood stream. The body doesn’t recognise these particles and slowly starts developing antibodies to that particular food thinking it as potential threat. This is how you get sensitive to particular food. The antibodies load increase gradually leading to hyperactive immune system and Autoimmunity which can be divided into three categories;
Silent: No symptoms but positive antibodies in lab tests
Reactive: Symptoms are present with positive lab tests
Autoimmune disease: Enough organ or system damage to classify it as disease
That is the reason why Autoimmune Diseases have a connection to leaky gut and multiple food sensitivities .