Food Sensitivity, Intolerance, or Allergy? When Healthy Food Can Be a Problem.


A diet consisting of unprocessed, whole foods is the healthiest.  That’s a given. Because of this, one would think that if they are eating the very healthiest, there should be no issue with what they’re eating, right?  Wrong. What many don’t realize is that we can have reactions to healthy foods without even realizing it!

How can healthy food be a problem? Well, there are food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances. If I have an intolerance to a particular food - let’s say wheat - I’ll potentially experience a side-effect that isn’t pleasant. I’ll break these terms down a bit and explain the differences.

Food Allergies

Food allergies occur when our immune system identifies a component in the food as an antigen. This causes an immune response, the body creates antibodies against the food.  Food allergies affect approximately 32 million Americans (

There are two types of true food allergies:

  1. Type I -  This involves IgE antibodies and produce an immediate allergic response such as hives, rashes, or itching.  Severe reactions can cause breathing problems, unconsciousness, and even result in death. An example of this type of allergy would be a peanut or shellfish allergy.  

  2. Type III - IgG antibodies are involved with this food allergy and the food reaction is delayed.  These allergies are often called sensitivities and can take several hours or days to manifest. You might think of these as hidden sensitivities as they can be difficult to detect and pinpoint.  

Food Intolerances:

A food intolerance would be a reaction to a food and the immune system is not involved.  The body is not able to digest the food completely. An example would be intestinal pain after drinking milk.  The individual experiencing this lack lactase, the enzyme with digests the lactose in the milk.

Food intolerances could also be from pharmacological activity - a drug like effect - to naturally occurring substances in food.  Tyramines, which are found in some cheeses and wine, would be an example. Those intolerant to tyramines may experience migraine headaches  after consuming foods containing them. Agricultural chemicals, food additives, MSG, and artificial sweeteners can also create symptoms as our bodies are not equipped to metabolize these substances properly.  

Food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can spring up at any age.  Our genetic disposition, detoxification pathways, toxic load, and our own uniqueness have a role in the manifestation of symptoms.

How can you find out if you are experiencing a reaction to the food you eat?

One of the first and easiest ways to discover if you are reacting to a particular food is by doing an elimination diet for a few weeks.  With an elimination diet, the most common foods known to cause inflammation are omitted for a period of time and then individually re-introduced.  Two programs that I walk my clients through are my Seasonal Reset and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. With both programs, we eliminate processed foods, gluten, dairy, soy, and corn.  Clients can expect to experience less bloating, less joint pain, better sleep, and more energy.

There’s a possibility that even after cutting out the items listed above, that an individual is still experiencing a reaction to food and has not been able to identify what it is.  A good example of this was a client who was very intentional about eating very healthy. She followed all of the guidelines to repair her health and reduce inflammation. But she wasn’t feeling better, she was feeling worse.  We had to dig deeper with blood testing.

Using KBMO Diagnostic Labs, I ran a simple test called the Food Inflammation Test (FIT).  The FIT Test measures IgG and Immune Complexes, sensitivities to over 132 different foods and additives. Through this testing, we discovered that Turmeric, which is very healthy and healing, was causing an inflammatory response in her body. In fact, the response was very obvious - it caused a bright rash all over her face!

I had been noticing that after I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, I would wake up with joint pain in my fingers.  I had suspected that I was having a reaction to corn as I would often have tacos with homemade corn tortillas. When running the FIT Test on myself, I discovered, sadly, that the culprit food was cabbage and not corn.  My tacos were served with cabbage in place of lettuce. Healing my gut, I can now have cabbage on occasion and not have joint pain.

I’ve used other food sensitivity testing labs and prefer KBMO for my clients. In addition to their personal report, my clients receive a sample meal plan, lists of foods that can be cross-reactive for them, and a wellness action plan.

We are all uniquely individual.  Our bodies all have different requirements and needs.  One size doesn’t fit all. Knowing, nurturing, and supporting our unique bodies is key to having good health.

Interested in knowing more about FIT testing for you or a family member? Contact me, we’ll schedule a 20-minute discovery call to see if FIT testing is a good fit for you - pun intended!


Bauman, E., Foundations of Nutrition

Lipski, E., Digestive Wellness