10 Hidden Signs of Food Sensitivities in Children
Food sensitivities are on the rise in Ottawa and across Canada and most worryingly among children.
In my Ottawa practice, the most common food sensitivities I see are to wheat, dairy, corn, eggs and soy.
If I were to ask you what symptoms you would expect to see from a food sensitivity, I would suspect you to say digestive. Beware, this is not always the case.
In this blog, I talk about the hidden symptoms of food sensitivities in children, what causes them and how best to identify them.
Peter is ten years old and has been brought to see me by his mum and dad complaining of lower back pain. They found me by looking for a local osteopath on Google and had been recommended osteopathy by a family friend.
All osteopaths are trained to look for and treat physical causes of pain. Physical causes are usually the result of some trauma such as a fall. Peter’s pain had begun two months previously without any trauma. He noticed the pain only when he was playing hockey and running.
When physical pain, of any kind, develops for no apparent reason it makes me very suspicious and leads me to suspect that there may be an underlying factor at play.
On examination, I found that Peter’s muscles were very tight, and his lower back muscles were not functioning very well. These two clinical findings, to me, are a sign of chronic low-grade inflammation. There are four main causes of inflammation:
- Food sensitivities
Symptoms of Hidden Food Sensitivities
The most common cause of inflammation in children is food sensitivities. Peter had no digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. Despite this fact, I asked whether he experienced any of the following extra-digestive or hidden signs of food sensitivities. These symptoms include:
- Recurrent ear and throat infections
- Canker sores
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Unexplained muscle and joint pains sometimes diagnosed as “growing pains”.
- Black circles under your eyes, known as “Shiners.”
- Hyperactivity and ADHD
- Rash and other skin complaints
Peter had some these other symptoms, which confirmed my suspicions and prompted me to suggest to his parents that we investigate whether he does have any food sensitivities.
There are three different ways I recommend to determine food sensitivities including:
A food elimination is the scientific “gold standard” method for determining food sensitivities. Foods are avoided for 30 days. If symptoms improve then each food is reintroduced, one at a time, to determine which are the triggers.
Blood Food sensitivity testing
Blood food sensitivity testing in Canada measures IgG food antibodies to different foods. The problem with this testing is that there are two other antibodies, IgA and IgM, that your bodies immune system might produce. More comprehensive testing is available through Cyrex Labs in the US that measures both IgA and IgG antibodies.
Muscle testing or applied kinesiology measures the response of your body’s nervous system to a substance. Muscle testing has not been validated by any scientific research, however I have found a very reliable way of screening in clinical practice.
I always give my clients the option of what method of testing they would like me to use. For Peter, we used only muscle testing and identified dairy as a problem.
After three weeks of avoiding dairy, Peter returned my office and reported that he could now play hockey and run pain-free, and many of his other symptoms had lessened.
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.