Do you have recurrent or chronic eczema, skin rashes, unusual fatigue, pain, or depression? Do you have other mysterious symptoms that seem inexplicable? The cause could be on your plate!
At SoCo Dermatology, we offer comprehensive food sensitivity testing through KBMO labs. All you need to do is come into the office for a simple blood draw. Blood tests from these labs screen for dozens of IgG antibody reactions to foods, spices, and an array of other ingestants. You get your results in a week or two and then you’ll know what to avoid. The goal is to eliminate low-grade, chronic symptoms so you can get back to living fully!
This list of foods accounts for 90% of all food allergies in the U.S. and for that reason, must be declared on the labels of processed foods. Other common symptom-triggering foods can include: corn, tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices, sugar, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, yeast, MSG (which goes by many different names), and artificial sweeteners.
FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING
TOP OFFENDERS: “THE BIG 8”
• MILK (DAIRY)
• CRUSTACEAN SHELLFISH
• TREE NUTS
• WHEAT (GLUTEN)
What’s the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity?
A food allergy can be severe and potentially life threatening. Anaphylaxis is the most dangerous scenario and requires immediate medical attention or the use of an epinephrine auto-injector—an epi-pen. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include a sudden drop in blood pressure and blocked breathing due to swelling of the tongue or throat. Other symptoms can include rapid pulse, skin rash, hives, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Since food allergies occur almost immediately—within seconds and up to 2 hours after you’ve eaten the food—the culprit can often be easier to identify. Strict avoidance of the food should be observed once this happens. Please check all ingredient labels and don’t be shy about asking the chef to make sure you don’t inadvertently ingest a food you know will give you a problem.
A food sensitivity, or intolerance, is generally less serious and can result in such symptoms as digestive distress, headaches, skin rashes, and joint pain. Symptoms can be subtle, systemic, and seemingly unrelated to what you’re eating, and can occur on a delay making it even harder to identify the offending food. Symptoms can also be chronic.
Gluten: It’s Not Just Wheat
Gluten is a general name for proteins (gliadin and glutenin) in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten gives baked goods their elasticity and chewiness. To make things more confusing, wheat can go by many names such bulgur, matzoh, cous-cous, farro, graham, spelt, kamut, durem, emmer, eikorn, semolina etc. Oats can also contain gluten due to cross-contaminated in factories that process other grains. Just because the label says “wheat-free,” doesn’t mean it’s gluten free.
Celiac vs. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity vs. Wheat Allergy
Celiac disease is a hereditary, life-long autoimmune disease responsible for 300-some-odd symptoms. These can include digestive distress (often severe), weight changes, fatigue, joint pain, depression/anxiety, and fertility issues. Dermatologically, it can manifest as an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis.
After initial blood work is done, a definitive diagnosis is reached by a biopsy of the small intestine (you must be eating gluten at the time of your tests). The biopsy is used to confirm that immune reactions to gluten have eroded the tiny villi lining the small intestine. When these finger-like villi get damaged, the gut becomes more permeable, or "leaky." This means that the gut lining, which once only allowed nutrients through its tight junctions, now allows undigested food molecules and toxins through. Circulating where they should not be, these stray bits are viewed as foreign invaders by the body and it launches an immune attack against them resulting in more inflammation. In this way, multiple reactions to previously innocuous foods can crop up.
For celiacs, maintaining a strict gluten-zero diet is essential. This is the only way to manage the disease and to prevent serious complications from arising. The slightest amount of gluten—even a crumb—causes the body to launch an immune response that can last for months. This can be challenging because gluten is often used as a filler in many products and can hide under many names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch, artificial coloring, and malt extract, to name a few. It can also show up in beauty products, medications, and vitamins so you have to be really smart about reading labels and checking with manufacturers. There are apps available that can help you decipher what’s safe. Visit celiac.org for more information.
It is often the case that we uncover specific foods that are directly triggering skin and other bodily reactions. Information from these tests can also reveal signs that antigens from foods are leaking through an inflamed gastrointestinal tract. This is called leaky gut and needs to be repaired.
We also offer guidance and support with a 4-week elimination diet on foods that may be a problem for you.
Try our elimination diet guide to try it yourself or call (203) 323-5660 to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss your specific situation.
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