While cancer and heart disease grab most of the headlines about health problems in the U.S., chronic conditions related to food and other sensitivities have reached epidemic proportions. Here are some sobering statistics:
- Over 29 million adults and children suffer from diabetes
- Almost two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese
- The Mayo Clinic estimates that as many as 1 in 5 people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome
- Nearly 12% of Americans suffer from migraine headaches, with one-third of sufferers having 3 or more migraines each month
- According to the USDA, over 34 million individuals in the U.S. have some form of food sensitivity
Food sensitivities arise from activation of cellular responses from the immune system. The immune system responds to specific foods and other substances as threats which require aggressive targeting. The presence of these foods and substances can trigger inflammation and ongoing activation of the immune system, resulting in a variety of conditions that lead to chronic poor health.
What is the difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy? The term “allergy” is often used as a catchall for all of the body’s altered or excessive responses to a food substance. However, an allergic reaction is a specific immune system response while a food sensitivity or intolerance is a broader category of non-specific immunity. Food intolerance is much more common than true food allergies.
How do you know if you have serious food or environmental sensitivities? Blood tests can be used to identify a number of common sensitivities. A number of lab testing companies offer such tests. One example is Cell Science Systems. Its Alcat blood test measures the body’s cellular response to hundreds of substances, including foods, additives, colorings, chemicals and medicinal herbs. The individual’s cellular reactivity after exposure of the blood to various test agent, versus the person’s own baseline control, tells the healthcare provider which substance may be causing a sensitivity-related response in the body. From that recommendations are provided for a personalized nutrition plan.
This type of testing is one more instance of how new technology is giving us and our healthcare providers, the insights we need for a personalized approach to better health.