Ok, where do I start?
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We are talking about the body’s serious reaction to delayed food sensitivities. The words food intolerance and food allergies are alternative terminology to describe this phenomenon.
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This is rubbish, as intolerance and allergy are completely different things. And a food sensitivity is a third separate thing. I think it’s highly misleading to say that. Well, more than misleading, as it’s factually incorrect.
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system. It occurs when your body incorrectly recognises something as harmful, and mounts a defence against it, by producing antibodies called IgE. An example of this is a peanut allergy. Allergies can, at their most severe, be life-threatening, and often run in families, which suggests they can be inherited. An allergic reaction will occur with every single exposure to the food in question; even when just a tiny amount is eaten. And the allergic reaction happens fast! In the UK (sorry, I don’t know about other countries) allergies are usually diagnosed using a skin prick test, where tiny amount of the suspected culprit(s) are put onto the skin. You can test for IgE levels in someone’s blood (using an ELISA kit), but this isn’t widely used, as it is expensive and is not actually considered as reliable as the skin prick test. One of the rare occasions where the least invasive and simplest test is pretty much considered to be the best, despite advances in technology.
An intolerance is a reaction of the digestive system. It doesn’t involve antibodies at all. It’s never life-threatening and takes longer than an allergy for a reaction to occur (can be many hours). People with an intolerance can sometimes manage small amounts without getting symptoms, e.g. people with lactose (a sugar in milk) intolerance can sometimes drink milk in coffee, but not have a glass of milk. With very few exceptions, food intolerance can only be identified using a food diary and elimination diet. There is no easy test. An ELISA would not work at all, as food intolerances do not produce IgE molecules in the blood. The main exception is coeliac disease (intolerance of gluten, which can be tested for with a biopsy of the gut… nothing to do with ELISAs!).
A food sensitivity is where a small amount of a food or drink causes a reaction that would normally only happen when a large amount is consumed. For example, drinking twenty cups of strong coffee would probably make most people have palpitations, but if drinking just one cup has this effect on you, then you have a caffeine sensitivity. Again, a sensitivity would not produce any IgE as it’s not an immune reaction.
Hope this helps. I personally would not have any tests like this done as it won’t help you to identity intolerances or sensitivities which might be causing migraine. You are the best person to work this out for yourself by keeping a food diary, and it’s cheaper too!
Happy to answer any more questions if anyone has any.