Food allergies and sensitivities are common today. People with food intolerances are susceptible to migraines, as well as other symptoms, so making sure you have the right diet is important. Make the changes you can make to improve symptoms and find a good doctor who will help you rule out bigger concerns and dig down to the underlying causes.
Some symptoms may look like a food allergy, but it may actually be another type of disorder, such as enzyme deficiency or digestive problems. Doing the elimination diet or getting properly tested can help you narrow down the foods that are right for your body and chemical makeup.
The Difference Between Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Food allergies and sensitivities can do some pretty good damage to the body. They’ve been connected to autoimmune and skin disorders. If you’re lucky, approximately 20 minutes after eating, you may feel symptoms like:
- Sinus congestion
I say, “if you’re lucky” because it’s the lucky ones whose body talks to them right away. Some of us have to wait days or even years until we can finally see the effects of our allergies and sensitivities.
When you think of food allergies, think about the typical immediate allergic reaction to food and other substances. The consequences of consuming the “wrong” food include symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Immediate swelling
These allergies tend to be easy to spot because they’re immediate and visibly obvious. They stimulate IgE immune system antibodies.
IgG antibodies are different, however. They stick around for about a month (28 days) longer than IgE antibodies. That’s why the sensitivities are harder to catch and may take longer to notice. The symptoms of an IgG reaction range from headaches and stomach pain to depression and anxiety. They can be broad and vague as everybody reacts differently to IgG antibodies.
Most of the chronic migraineurs that I see have at least 10 foods to which they’re sensitive. When they eliminate these foods, their migraines decrease in frequency and severity.
Testing for Allergies Vs. Sensitivities
The food elimination diet is a great way to figure out what foods are causing the problem. It’s a month-long commitment that can provide you with insight into your dietary habits; however, if you feel like a month is too long, then you can be tested for allergies and sensitivities with an IgE or IgG test.
And there is a difference between the two, so be specific with your request. An IgE won’t reveal IgG antibodies. IgE allergies are immediate responses to an external allergen. Most of the time, when you hear about allergy testing, this is what doctors use. However, sensitivity or intolerance won’t be found on this test, which is why an IgG test would be a better option if your symptoms are less obvious.
An IgG food sensitivity test usually checks for inflammation and adverse reactions to 55 to 184 foods. The different foods you eat are categorized into values of low, moderate, and high reaction levels.
Understanding which foods to avoid, as well as which foods are safe,will help you find the best migraine-friendly diet for your body and mind.
Food intolerances are rampant in most industrialized nations. Figuring out which foods are the culprits and then avoiding them won’t be an easy task. As with all health plans, though, it’s up to you to find the one that works best for you. A good doctor can help, but you’re ultimately responsible for making the changes, and changes are based on how you feel. Nobody knows your body better than you, so whether you try the elimination diet or one of the tests, make sure you follow through.