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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Are Food Sensitivities Making Us Sick?

Dec 02, 2012 10:48PM ● By Nitin Bawa, M.D.


This is the time of the year that we often overeat and feel bloated and miserable. However, many people feel bad after eating even small amounts of certain foods. Just like some people get a rash with certain skin care products, individuals can have an allergic reaction to something that is eaten. Because we cannot look inside our gut easily, it is very difficult to determine exactly what is going on and what the sensitive foods are. If we put something on our skin that does not agree with us we know it fairly soon, because we get a rash and can see the difference. The same kind of process occurs in the digestive tract.

About three-fourths of all immune cells are found in the gut, where the body has to fight against bacteria and decide if certain foods are not good for us and should be eliminated rapidly in the form of diarrhea. These immune cells are helpful to most people because they help ward off the numerous bacteria that are in our intestine. However, for some people, they go haywire.

Many people have food allergies and insensitivities that are never detected.

When the immune cells in the gut are irritated by some foods, they produce inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation in the body and can contribute to pain.

There is a unique test called the ALCAT that attempts to answer this question. This is a blood test where white cells from blood are grown in a tube and exposed to extracts from different foods. It is possible to look at the white cells under a microscope and see which foods cause the white cells to get irritated, or degranulated.

The ALCAT test checks the cells against a few hundred foods, chemicals and preservatives and gives a report that describes for the client which foods may cause a mild, moderate or severe allergy reaction. The report also gives a recommended rotational diet that helps gradually rotate some of the sensitive foods into the body.

Dr. Bawa practices in Santa Rosa Beach, Destin and Panama City. He contributes to local newspapers and his articles can be found on the Internet. For more information, call 850-424-7320 or visit

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