Food Sensitivities: What Are They and What Can I Do About Them?

Many believe that their everyday discomforts such as joint pain, difficulty thinking clearly, headaches, and feeling run-down are simply part of getting older. However, symptoms like these, and many others, may be caused by food sensitivities.

Renowned allergist Theron Randolph believed that roughly 90 percent of the population have some form of allergy or sensitivity. Furthermore, the majority of these individuals are unaware that their symptoms are caused by the foods they eat. Some people have been unwittingly eating disruptive foods for their entire lives.

To resolve the troublesome symptoms of food sensitivity it is necessary to know what it is, how to identify problem foods, and what can be done to alleviate food-related reactions.

The Basics of Food Sensitivity

Most are familiar with severe food allergies – the most common include peanuts and shellfish. These are different than food sensitivities in that they trigger severe and often immediate reactions. Allergies typically cause symptoms ranging from moderate skin irritation to life-threatening events such as anaphylaxis.

Food sensitivities are significantly less dangerous in the immediate and symptoms take a longer time to develop. In part, this is why food sensitivities are so frequently overlooked.

When a threatening substance such as a food-borne allergen enters the body, the immune system responds by producing antibodies to attack and destroy the offending substance. Rather than the immediate IgE-mediated response associated with severe allergies, food sensitivities utilize a delayed IgG immune response. The slower reaction causes symptoms to develop up to 72 hours after ingestion of the offending substance. The long delay coupled with a typical diet of diverse foods makes it difficult to identify the triggering substance.

Antibodies triggered by IgG immunity are produced to respond more than just the initial event. The immune system attempts to anticipate further attacks by creating additional antibodies. This causes symptoms that can linger for multiple days. However, these symptoms may not be severe enough to cause concern, making it easy to ignore the issue.

Eating foods that the body is sensitive to often means they are not digested well. Partially digested particulates can enter the gut and leak into the bloodstream thereby causing an immune response. Because the offending substances are transported via the bloodstream, food sensitivity can disrupt virtually any part of the body.

Symptoms of Sensitivity

Part of the reason people frequently don’t identify the trigger of their sensitivities is that they believe the many vague symptoms are not caused by the foods they eat. It is common for those with sensitivities to experience seemingly unrelated symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Eczema
  • Itchiness and rashes
  • Stomach pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight fluctuations
  • Behavioral problems in children
  • Asthma
  • Puffiness in the face and eyes
  • Heartburn
  • Food cravings
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Arthritis

The symptoms that develop depend on what regions of the body are impacted by the antibodies produced to combat the problematic food.

Joint pain is the most common symptom of sensitivity. This is because immune complexes often settle in or invade the joints. Certain foods such as dairy, soy, and gluten trigger inflammatory responses that can disrupt joint movement and function. Furthermore, when inflammatory foods are regularly consumed, the body may develop a resistance to cortisol and insulin, which further increases the risk of chronic inflammation in the joints and elsewhere.

How to Identify Problematic Foods

It is difficult to accurately identify foods that trigger the delayed immune response caused by a food sensitivity. Perhaps the most effective method is to follow an elimination diet. This process involves removing the most common inflammatory and toxic foods from the diet and giving the body time to reach a baseline of immunity. Subsequently, foods can be reintroduced every two weeks to test their individual impact on the body. This allows for identification of problem foods that cause disruption.

The first step in an elimination diet is to completely remove inflammatory and toxic foods for three to six weeks. This lets antibodies dissipate fully and gives the body time to regenerate and recover from allergen-induced damage.

The following substances should be eliminated to relieve stress on the gut and immune system.

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Genetically modified foods and GMOs
  • Gluten
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Legumes
  • Nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant)
  • Preservatives, dyes, and other additives
  • Processed foods
  • Soy
  • Sugar
  • Trans fats and hydrogenated fats
  • Yeast

After stabilizing the immune system through eliminating inflammatory agents, foods can start to be reincorporated one at a time. Try to eat the chosen food three times a day for three days to ensure adequate exposure. If there is a reaction after a specific food is reintroduced, it is likely that your body is sensitive to it. During this process, always incorporate foods individually every two weeks to ensure there is no confusion regarding what substance triggered the reaction.

Remove and Replace

Supplementation can also be an effective method of supporting the immune system and limiting food sensitivities.

Digestive enzymes help break down food particles, which is an essential part of combating food sensitivity. Allzyme is a vegetarian-friendly supplement produced by HoltraCeuticals that supports digestion of common immune-triggering foods including gluten and dairy. Taking Allzyme before meals prompts the body to produce the enzymes needed to effectively breakdown food and optimize digestion. The enzymes in Allzyme help to effectively digest proteins, starches, and fats that are potential immune triggers and sources of sensitivity.

Supporting the Body to Alleviate Sensitivities

Typically, people think of the immune system as a purely protective agent. Unfortunately, various food sensitivities and allergies can result in undue inflammation, disruption, and a variety of symptoms.

Detecting food-related symptoms and subsequently identifying their triggers is an essential part of optimizing health. Supporting the immune system by removing offending foods while promoting healthy gut function with the use of supplements is an effect method of improving overall wellness and alleviating the lingering symptoms of food sensitivity.

For even more information on keeping your gut healthy, watch Holtorf Medical Group’s Facebook live even here.


1. What is a Food Sensitivity and How to Know if You Have One. Amy Myers M.D.

2. All About Food Sensitivities. Precision Nutrition.

3. 7 Signs You Have A Food Sensitivity. Prevention.

4. 5 Signs A Hidden Food Sensitivity Is Sabotaging Your Health. MindBodyGreen.

5. 6 Food Allergies Treatments and Natural Remedies. Dr. Axe.

6. Understanding Food Intolerance: The Difference Between an Enzyme Deficiency and an Immune Reaction. Bodyecology.

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