Is it a Food Sensitivity or Food Allergy?

What are delayed-onset reactions?

When a separate non-anaphylactic reaction occurs within 2-72 hours after exposure, it is considered a delayed-onset reaction.  Most people believe that these are due to foods. However since allergies are cumulative it may also be from environment allergens as well as insect reactions. This reaction is mediated by the IgG antibody and can cause a variety of symptoms, not just the common ones seen in seasonal allergies or anaphylaxis.

What are the most common foods associated in delayed-onset reactions

  • Cow’s milk
  • Wheat gluten (gliadin)
  • Gluten (in wheat, oats, rye and barley)
  • Yeast
  • Egg whites
  • Cashews
  • Egg yolks
  • Garlic
  • Soy beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Almonds
  • Corn
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pineapple
  • Sesame seeds
  • Kale
  • Navy beans

What are the IgG and IgE antibodies?

Immunoglobulin, also know as an antibody, resides in the blood, which is why the most thorough testing for food allergies is done with a blood test.  Antibodies are the body’s natural defense against fungus, viruses, bacteria, cancer cells and allergens. They bind to these substances so that the body can detect and kill them.  The major types of antibodies are: IgA, IgM, IgE, IgG and IgD. But for the purpose of allergies we will just address IgE and IgG.

IgG antibodies are found in most body fluids and are the smallest and most abundant immunoglobulin. They fight bacterial and viral infections as well as allergens. They are the only type of antibody able to cross the placenta in pregnant women to help protect the baby.

IgE antibodies are found in the lungs, skin, and mucus membranes. They react to foreign substances such as pollen, fungus, medications, poisons, animal dander, and food items. Patients with allergies and children with anaphylactic reactions will have high levels of IgE antibodies.

What are the symptoms of delayed-onset reactions?

  • Sore throat
  • Decreased ability to concentrate
  • Achy joints
  • Skin conditions (eczema, rash, hives)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gas, bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Aggressive or hyperactive behavior in children
  • Colic and increased spit up
  • Mental fogginess

Since delayed-onset reactions are less severe than anaphylactic allergies what happens if I ignore them?

When inflammation is present in the body and is left untreated the immune system is in a state of constant hyperactivity making the body feel as if it is working in over- drive. An over-worked immune system may be more susceptible to the many autoimmune disease reactions and inflammatory conditions we see today. Whether this is the complete cause or whether this simply makes it worse is unknown.

Autoimmune diseases that have been linked to a hyperactive immune system include the following:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Infertility
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Adrenal disease

Inflammatory diseases that are made worse by constant inflammation in the body include some of the following:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn’s
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Arthritis (Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis)
  • Gout 

What do delayed-onset reactions look like in children? 

In children, food sensitivities can often be interpreted as poor behavior.  Children who consistently don’t feel well and are over-tired tend to act out in many ways.  Some of the conditions that have improved by testing and removing sensitivities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Poor sleep
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Headaches
  • Tummy aches and colic
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor immune system
  • Sensory disorders
  • Ear infections (due to improper drainage)

Can I self-test?

Self-testing is possible, but certainly not easy, which is why most patients will opt for blood testing. The following self-test requires strict adherence to the process with absolutely no cheating which most people find almost impossible.

How to self-test:

For 30 days eliminate all foods found in the above list of common foods associated with delayed-onset reactions. Keep a detailed journal of how you feel during the time these foods have been eliminated.

After 30 days, start adding in one food at a time. Re-introduce only this food for about 3 days. If you do not experience symptoms on the first day of the test then double the quantity on the second day. If no reaction occurs then you can move to the next food. If you do have a reaction to the food, put it on your list of foods to avoid. Remember to keep journaling.

Repeat this process for each new food item until you developed a list of foods you can eat and foods to avoid.

For more specific instructions, ask our office to provide you with a specific elimination diet.  It can also be nice to do a Medi-clear cleanse at the same time to detox your body of inflammation and also mildly cleanse your liver.

How does the blood testing work and what do the results tell me?

When doing blood testing for food allergies we require that you are not currently suffering from seasonal allergies or have recently had a cold or flu. If you have taken any antihistamines 24 hours prior to the test, you may have false readings.  We generally don’t test children under four, but there are some exceptions.  For severe cases in children younger than four there is a heel stick test or we test mom and treat the child according to the positive results on mom’s test.  This is not a fasting blood test.

Our blood panel tests 190 food allergens including most foods as well as spices, yeast and sugars. The results are then carefully examined by one of our doctors to determine the most effective plan for treatment. This will included a recommended diet and the best approach to dealing with your specific allergens.

At In Health Clinic we are always available to discuss your health concerns and would be happy to help you decide whether or not this test is right for you.

Previously we wrote Allergies Part I, which was an extensive overview of what allergies are and how they can seriously affect health.  For a review of this article look at our website under medical resources.  (