Food Sensitivities (IgG)

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-13 (EDT)

See Also Naturopathic Therapies
See Also Clinical Nutrition

Food sensitivities are one of the most common adverse reactions that individuals can have to food. What distinguishes food sensitivities from food allergies is the speed and type of reaction that is caused. Food allergies are immediate typically atopic reactions; whereas food sensitivities are delayed and gradual reactions.[1]

Food Sensitivities (IgG)
Food sensitivities.jpg

Food Sensitivities (IgG)
Causes Food Reactions, Genetics
See Also Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities, Food Elimination Test, Food Challenge, Food Sensitivity Blood Test (IgG)
Books Books on Infections, Allergies, Intolerances
Articles Articles on Infections / Allergies / Sensitivities
Check out this book Hypoallergenic Diet,(A Complete Guide to Food Sensitivities)


In the 1930s naturopathic doctor Otis G. Carroll discovered eight major food sensitivities: dairy, fruit, meat, eggs, sugar, potatoes and grains, as well as salt. He later determined that most poeple had a combination intolerance between cereal or grain products and other foods. He was an advocate of fasting and in identifying and removing food intolerances in order to promote healing. The focus on food intolerances continues to be prominent in the practice of naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic Assessment

Food intolerances depends on two factors: personal susceptibility and exposure to the food allergen. The naturopathic assessment looks at both aspects. The stronger a person's vitality and constitution the less likely they will be affected by exposure to food allergens.

Causes of Food Intolerances

The causes of food intolerances include:

Article Food Allergies and Sensitivities: Observing the Complete Picture, Vital Link; 2012 Summer
Article The Impact of Food Intolerances and Lead on Cognitive Function, 2012 Spring;Vol19(1) Vital Link


  • An individual may react to any food, but the food sensitivities that account for the majority of reactions include: dairy, wheat, yeast, nuts, chocolate, eggs, sugar, nightshade vegetables, soy, pork, rye, beef, corn, and potatoes.[2]
  • Individuals with less diverse diets, and/or earlier introduction of common food allergens may have increased rates of food allergies and intolerances.[3]
  • Younger children tend to have a broader range of food sensitivities than their parents.


  • Some food intolerances have a strong inherited component. Atopic conditions, food allergies, and food reactions have strong familial connections.[3]
  • A person's overall immune status is strongly correlated with that of their parents at the time of conception. The weaker a person's immune status the more susceptible they are to food intolerances.


  • Digestion
  • Incomplete digestion of food due to hypochlorhydria or other physiological process can increase the absorption of large proteins that may act as allergens, leading to an increased of food allergy development.[3]

Testing for Food Sensitivities

Suspicion of food sensitivities is commonly based on a thorough history, physical examination, and signs and symptoms that are commonly related to food sensitivities.

Article Blood testing for food allergies and food sensitivities: Rationale, indications and clinical outcomes, IHP, October 2008

Diagnostic Testing

Related Conditions

Food sensitivities are associated with a wide-range of conditions including:[3], [4][5]


Food intolerances occur as a result of antibodies, known as IgG antibodies that are found in the blood and that are associated with a gradual and delayed inflammatory reaction to certain foods. This inflammatory reaction may take anywhere from several hours to several days to manifest symptoms. There are several subclasses of IgG, including IgG1, 2, 3, and 4. Many labs assays for all four subclasses and reports this as the total IgG antibody level scored for each antigen. [6]

  • IgG1 is the most abundant of the four subclasses and reaches 'adult' levels in early childhood. A deficiency of this antibody may lead to a general reduction in immune response, making the individual susceptible to recurrent infections.
  • IgG2 deficiency may be associated with IgA deficiency. Recurrent respiratory infections in children are associated with IgG2 deficiency. 'Adult' levels of IgG2 are not usually reached until 6-7 years of age.
  • IgG3 is found in minute quantities, yet it is important to the overall immune response. Reduced production of IgG3 can leave an individual susceptible to recurring infections such as respiratory infections, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
  • IgG4 deficiency may be associated with IgG2 and IgA deficiency in some conditions such as T-cell dysfunction. Elevated levels of IgG4 are seen in atopic dermatitis, asthma and some parasitic diseases.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

The treatment of food intolerances can be simplified into the following five components which can be achieved through dietary modification and an individualized treatment approach utilizing naturopathic therapies:[3]

  • Avoidance of allergens
  • Rotation diet to decrease sensitivity
  • Re-establish healthy gut flora
  • Heal damaged intestinal mucosa
  • Treat underlying causes (such as maldigestion)


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • The primary treatment for food intolerance is dietary change, specifically the complete avoidance of suspected food allergens. Once implicated food allergens have been eliminated for 3-6 months it is reasonable to re-challenge with the food as tolerance may have been established.[7]

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for food intolerances include:


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. Trevorrow M, Marsden T. Summer 2012 Food Allergies and Sensitivities: Observing the Complete Picture Vital Link;19(2):33-39.
  2. Gaby AR (1998) The Role of Hidden Food Allergy/Intolerance in Chronic Disease Alt Med Rev 3(2):90-100
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Barrie S, Bongiorno PB (2006) Pizzorno Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed Chap 53 Food Reactions Elsevier.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Miller AL (1997) The Pathogenesis, Clinical Implications, and Treatment of Intestinal Hyperpermeability Alt Med Rev 2(5):330-345
  5. Joneja JV (1998) Dietary Management of Food Allergy Intolerance 2nd ed Hall Publishing
  7. Rindfleisch JA (2012) Rakel: Integrative Medicine 3rd ed Chap 84 Food Intolerance and Elimination Diet Saunders