How do I know if I’m experiencing adverse food reactions?

Adverse food reactions can lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea/constipation, itchy mouth, joint pain, brain fog, etc. These are all symptoms that many of us know too well, that affect our daily lives. We may ask ourselves: why is this happening? What can I do to find relief? What can I eat? Who can help me? 

food reactions blog

Trust me I have personally been there!

As a digestive dietitian, explaining why these symptoms may be happening, and getting to the clients root cause is a daily task for me. This blog will help you in understanding why these symptoms are occurring and what type of food reaction it is: food allergy, food sensitivity, or food intolerance. 

The Immune System: Our Natural Protector

Our immune system is like the military, which begins to form when we are in our mother’s womb. Each branch of the military protects us in different ways from foreign substances, just like the cells of our immune system do. 

This is how we prevent sickness! Ironically, 70% of each person’s personal military is in our gut. This is why you may have heard that your “immune system” is located in your gut.

Graphic by Weill Cornell Medicine

How do these adverse food reactions develop?

food reactions

food reactions

All of the food that we eat travels through our digestive tract and is handled by our gut based military.  If the gut military perceives something as a threat such as bacterial, it will mount an attack.


The immune system mistakenly attacks a a food that is not a threat.  AND Food allergies and sensitivities develop.

What is a food allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance

food reactions

As you can see in the graphic above, food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances have different times of onset, symptoms, and treatment protocol.

The testing for these reactions are typically done by a doctor. However, at RBA we do have one testing option! The LEAP/MRT test for food sensitivities tests multiple immune pathways. You may have heard of other food sensitivity tests, but these often only test IgG levels. However, these IgG tests are controversial. 

Per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “ The presence of IgG is likely a normal response of the immune system to exposure to food. In fact, higher levels of IgG4 to foods may simply be associated with tolerance to those foods.” 

Well that’s confusing! This is why it is so important to consult with experts like doctors and digestive dietitians!

So what does this mean for you? 

How To Prevent Food Reactions From Developing

What we do from our first day of life and throughout our whole life can minimize the chances of developing a food sensitivity or allergy. As someone who suffers from food sensitivities, there may have been a few things I could’ve done better in regards to my diet. 

Tips for Parents to avoid food reactions

  • As a parent, there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of your child developing food reactions later in life unless medically unable. 
    • Natural birth—the mother’s vaginal canal is the baby’s first exposure to good bacteria
    • Breastfeeding
    • Do not delay solid food introductions
    • Keep your gut bacteria happy and plentiful. Eat a diet rich in fiber, consume prebiotic foods such as asparagus, artichokes, onions, and leeks, as well as probiotic foods such as fermented dairy beverages, yogurt, and sauerkraut

Tips for Adults to avoid food reactions

  • As you grow up, you can take similar approaches to reduce food reactions:  
    • Reduce stress
    • Reduce prescription drugs that may affect your gut bacteria such as antibiotics. 
    • Eat a balanced and variable diet consisting of an array of different colors!
    • Fiber

If you are interested in getting food sensitivity testing, take a look of our nutrition testing page.

Food Sensitivities


If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to get to the root cause of your adverse food reactions and making food simple again, please email, or call 301-474-2499.

As a certified LEAP therapist, Dietitian Kathleen can help you solve your digestive difficulties with cutting edge research and state of the art protocols. Co-author of Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.