Research indicates food can cause a reaction in 4 different ways and it’s not gas, bad breath or a hot tongue. Check this out!
- Non-immune response. Lactose intolerance is the most common example of this. People with lactose intolerance do not produce the enzyme lactase which is required to digest lactose, also called “milk sugar.” When the milk sugar lactose is not broken down to be absorbed in the gut, it causes gas, bloating, GI symptoms, etc. This is a response to food and is caused solely because a digestive enzyme is missing entirely or is in insufficient quantity. This is not a reaction mediated by the immune system. There are other foods that cause reactions similar to this, but again, they are non-immune responses.
- Type 1, IgE mediated, immune response. Peanut allergies are a common example of this. Reactions typically occur within minutes and may be fatal in severe circumstances. These are an immune response and it is immediate. Other food examples are shellfish, soy, eggs, strawberries, etc. People with this type of immune response need to seek treatment immediately and usually carry an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) to prevent anaphylactic shock in case of accidental exposure.
- Type 3 immune-mediated, delayed responses such as IgG, IgA, IgM. This is very individualistic and can be caused by numerous food items. These are immune responses but to differentiate them from the IgE reactions, they are sometimes called “food sensitivities.” People with delayed food reactions often cannot figure out which food is the culprit because, by the time a reaction occurs, so many foods have been consumed that isolating one is difficult. This is when the Mediator Release Test (MRT) would help.
- Type 4, sensitized T cell, reactions. These are also immune reactions and are also delayed. This is a direct antigen-antibody response, which is what Celiac Disease is. The immune system directly attacks the foreigner (or itself) and creates what is known as an immune complex. Once formed, the complex must now be disposed of via liver, urine output, mucus, etc.
I was very surprised to learn you can have a reaction to a food item for up to 72 hours after you eat it. That sounds just crazy. How do you ever figure out what foods you react to? The MRT test can determine the most reactive foods and the least reactive foods.