Food Allergies vs. Food Sensitivities

by Christine H. Farlow, D.C.


Do you ever eat a food and have a reaction that you know for a fact was caused by the food you ate?

Or do you sometimes feel bad and wonder if there was anything you ate in the last few days that’s causing you to feel this way?

If you have a reaction to a food you ate, either immediately or within a couple hours, that you can irrefutably say was caused by that food, that is a food allergy.

If you think you might be reacting to a food you ate recently, but can’t pinpoint the food, the day or time, it could possibly be a hidden food allergy, also known as a food sensitivity or food intolerance.

True food allergies are rare. If you’re allergic to a food, you will have an immediate reaction and you will know that you’re allergic to that food.

More common than food allergies are food sensitivities or food intolerance. But unlike food allergies, the foods you’re sensitive to are not obvious.

Food sensitivities are often referred to as hidden food allergies. When you have food sensitivities, your immune system treats the intolerant foods like a foreign invader, like it would viruses or bacteria. When this happens, it’s not apparent that you’re having a reaction to a food.

For example, I’m allergic to MSG. I know almost immediately if I’ve eaten anything with MSG in it because I will feel like my tongue is disconnected from my brain and my speech becomes garbled.

A few years ago, I was doing a detoxification program that included whey protein as one of the products in the cleanse. About a week into the program, I was experiencing what I thought was a very mild MSG reaction. When I stopped the whey protein, the reaction disappeared.

Now, I know that some protein powders can contain hidden MSG. So, I assumed I was having a mild reaction to MSG in the whey protein, even though the company assured me that the product was produced under ideal conditions and there was no MSG in the product. However, I didn’t believe them because this type of reaction I had only experienced from MSG.

When I was tested for food sensitivities, I discovered that I was sensitive to whey. What a surprise! I was not reacting to MSG, but to the whey protein. This is an example of a hidden food allergy or a food intolerance.

Generally when you have food sensitivities, they are to foods you love and eat a lot. They can also be to other foods as well.

With food intolerance, you have a chronic activation of the immune system, leading to inflammation and a variety of health problems like …

  • digestive disorders
  • migraine headaches
  • obesity
  • chronic fatigue
  • ADD/ADHD
  • aching joints
  • skin disorders
  • arthritis
  • and more …

Almost anything other than perfect health can be a symptom of food sensitivity.

According to current research, 30 to 90% of the population of the U.S. is affected by food sensitivities. Most people are not aware that they are intolerant to certain foods and have no clue as to the foods that might be doing harm to their health.

If you experience anything less than robust health, there’s a good chance that you may have food sensitivities.

How do you find out?

“The ALCAT  Test is the most effective and comprehensive sensitivity/intolerance test available… It is the only test shown to correlate with clinical symptoms by double blind oral challenges, the gold standard.”

Note: This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have health problems, consult your physician.


(c) 2012, Christine H. Farlow, D.C., customizing nutritional programs to meet your unique nutritional needs. Dr. Farlow provides nutritional consultations in her office and by phone. Request a FREE Consultation to learn more about food sensitivities and how the ALCAT Test can help you improve your health at http://christinehfarlowdc.com/.



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