Adverse reaction to food antigens is predominant amongst the population commonly known as FOOD INTOLERANCE OR FOOD SENSITIVITY and is now a growing concern in India. It is non allergic delayed food hypersensitivity against specific food antigens that may result from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a food substance or an abnormality in the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

In the current era, the immune system of an individual is compromised due to various factors like stress, excess of alcohol intake, improper eating habit & many other factors including excessive medicine due to specific illness resulting in damage to the inner lining of the gut system making it leaky. This in turn results in improper digestion & absorption of food leading to the development of multiple symptoms like weight problems, migraine, insomnia, Asthma, anxiety, IBS, ADHA, Autism, Chronic Fatigue, Headache etc.

What is IgG-mediated intolerance? There is a widespread erroneous belief that immune system reactions to the foods we eat are exclusively associated with IgE antibody mediated mechanisms (true allergy). However, according to more recent data, IgG-dependent hypersensitivity, characterised by a delayed immune response, also plays a very significant role in the pathogenesis of food reactions, often referred to as ‘food intolerance’. Determination of serum IgG food antibodies opens new diagnostic pathways for patients who are hypersensitive to food components, which can be alleviated by food elimination diets guided by the results of such testing.

Your best (and only) defence against a variety of diseases & disorders is a healthy immune system!

Your gut and your immune system

Most of your immune system is located in and around your digestive system. Your best defence against infections is a healthy immune system. Taking care of your gut is the best way to support your immune system.

What supports a healthy gut and a healthy immune system?

Not eating foods that are inflammatory or that trigger inflammation and therefore burden the immune system.

  • This is best determined through food allergy and sensitivity (Food IgG) testing because it tells you what your immune system is ok with and what it is constantly fighting against.
  • You want your immune system attacking the toxins and foreign molecules (viruses and bacteria) and not the foods you eat every day.

An immune reaction to food is an adverse response to a food component (allergen), which can cause a variety of immune responses. There are two common antibodies associated with such adverse immune reactions to food, IgE and IgG.

  • IgE-mediated food reactions, type I hypersensitivity (classical allergy), are immediate after exposure to the allergen and the symptoms displayed are classically associated with an allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis.
  • IgG-mediated food reactions, type III hypersensitivity, usually occur several hours or days after exposure and can be caused by multiple allergens. Such reactions are associated with an inflammatory response which has been shown to be related to conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and its associated symptoms (including bloating and diarrhoea) and migraines.
  • Food intolerance is a general term which is used to describe type III hypersensitivity as well as reactions to antigens which are non-immune mediated. Intestinal permeability evidence suggests that the development of IgG-dependent food intolerance is directly related to increased permeability of the intestinal barrier. In a healthy normal intestinal tract where homeostasis is preserved, this layer is tight and highly selective, so that only the desired nutrients enter the bloodstream from the intestinal lumen, while access of potentially damaging substances and pathogens is impeded. Loosening of the tight junctions makes it possible for larger particles – not only nutrients but also toxins, food allergens and microorganisms – to penetrate the barrier. The increased permeability of the intestinal barrier is often referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. There is increasing evidence that damage to the tight junctions and the subsequent influx of toxins and allergens leads to abnormal immune reactions leading to the development of autoimmune diseases. A number of studies have also shown that this damage to the tight junctions is the precipitating cause for the development of food specific IgG antibodies. Furthermore, there is evidence that this permeability is selective to food allergens.
  • Ingestion of food may therefore lead to chronic activation of the immune system in which IgG antibodies are involved, leading to the development of immune complexes which in turn cause chronic inflammation and mechanical damage to the surrounding tissues. Controversy surrounds food IgG testing and this relates to the role food IgG antibodies play in the pathogenesis and diagnosis of food intolerance and a number of chronic illnesses. However, elevated levels of IgG antibodies to food antigens have been observed substantially in diseases associated with increased intestinal barrier dysfunction. In addition, clinical studies have shown in some cases that there is a role for food IgG testing in certain illnesses.
  • The clinical manifestations of chronic IgG-dependent reactions depend on the target tissue or organ to which the immune complexes, composed of IgG and the food antigens, are transported within the bloodstream. Conditions in which the presence of elevated food specific IgG antibodies have been demonstrated: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Inflammation and obesity Migraine / headache Asthma / respiratory diseases.
  • Implementing a diet based upon the results of IgG dependent intolerance testing led to a statistically significant improvement in symptoms. The efficacy of a diet based on the measurement of IgG antibodies specific for food components has been demonstrated in several conditions, both in independent studies and clinical practice. Excellent results have been obtained in patients with migraine and IBS. A diet based on food-specific IgG test results, has shown to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with these types of chronic conditions.

Healing a leaky gut

  • Avoiding Foods in the RED ZONE (Elimination Diet) combined with Probiotics to repopulate beneficial Gut Microbiota
  • Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome (the organisms in your gut); killing off bad bacteria, parasites and excess yeast. Maintaining healthy levels of beneficial microbes.
  • Good digestion: producing or taking digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid supplements if needed.
  • Treating SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
  • Making sure you have the basic gut and immune nutrients including vitamin D, vitamin A, zinc and vitamin C. L-lysine is an amino acid that has antiviral properties. There are many other supplements that support the immune system; but these are the basics.
  • Reducing stress and optimizing cortisol levels from the adrenal glands. Stress and excess cortisol cause gut lining breakdown and suppress the immune system.

In a NUTSHELL, with a well-designed Elimination Diet based on Food Intolerance Test results (for 200+ foods, as a comprehensive test to have idea about all the foods safe for you to consume) one can not only reverse certain chronic conditions but can also revive overall immunity.

By Dr. Kavitha M P