I’m sure you’ve heard about food sensitivity testing but what you may NOT know is what it actually identifies, why you might use it, what you would use it for, and what type of testing you should use. With all the different diets out there from aip, to fodmap, to paleo or keto it gets so confusing knowing what to eat to best support your health. There is a diet for everything.
Firstly, I want to mention that a food sensitivity is different than a food allergy.
A food allergy is a very immediate response. You would experience things like difficulty breathing, tingling sensations or swelling around your mouth, vomiting or fainting. There are tests to identify allergies that you would typically use to identify problems BEFORE you’ve had a reaction. These differ from food sensitivity tests and if you’ve already experienced an allergic reaction you would know it right away based on the immediate symptoms. Food sensitivities are not a true allergy. They can be challenging to identify because they don’t have those immediate symptoms. They can also change quite a bit based on how much stress you are facing, how well your body is detoxing, how much inflammation you have, and how healthy your gut is.
Keep in mind when considering any food sensitivity testing that the underlying problem is NOT the food…healthy, whole food is not the enemy. I don’t want you feeling paranoid about every piece of food that goes into your mouth so while I do recommend food sensitivity testing in certain situations, my goal when working with you is to get at the root cause and help you develop a healthy relationship with food.
Why use food sensitivity testing?
Because it can get you on a fast track to feeling better. It will allow us to target the foods that are contributing to chronic immune system activation while we also work on the deeper aspects. This means that we are able to decrease inflammation and calm down the response of your immune system a lot faster. It is also a great way to determine an individualized nutrition plan as opposed to following something that is targeted for a condition. Your food sensitivity test results are very specific to only you.
For what types of health conditions would you use food sensitivity testing?
- Digestive Disorders (IBS, Diarrhea/Constipation, Nausea, Bloating, Gastritis, Reflux, Nutritional Deficiencies)
- Metabolic Conditions (Obesity, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Inability to lose weight, Weight loss, Thyroid Illness, Infertility, Irregular Menstruation)
- Stiff, Sore Joints, Arthritis, Tendonitis
- Skin Conditions (Eczema, Psoriasis, Rashes, Keratosis Pilaris, Urticaria, Acne)
- Neurological Conditions (Migraines, Headaches, Memory Problems, Chronic Fatigue, Mood Swings, Depression, ADHD, Neuropathy)
- Respiratory Conditions (Chronic Cough, Wheezing, Sinusitis)
- Getting Sick Often
What Are The Types of Food Sensitivity Testing?
One of the most commonly used tests is called an IgG food sensitivity test. This looks at your blood levels of IgG. IgG is a protein made by your white blood cells. This test is meant to identify food sensitivity reactions but what I’ve learned since using it is that it is more likely to reveal repeated exposure to a food. Meaning your test results may reveal high blood levels of IgG for foods that you eat often. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are causing or contributing to any problems. Some studies have also shown that IgG blood levels are high when there is a true allergy in an attempt to act as protection against the true allergy so it is not correlated with a pathogenic response.
There are several hair food sensitivity tests available on the market but there is no data available on the efficacy of these tests. The companies offering them rely on level of customer satisfaction as to whether or not they believe it is a scientifically valid test. I wouldn’t waste your money on these.
This test measures stimulation of several classes of white blood cells for food reactions. This means that sensitivities can be present from a variety of causes which other tests can’t always identify. This test has valid data demonstrating significant improvement in symptoms as a result of individualized nutritional plans based on your results. One recent study in particular looked at IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) improvement on an individual nutritional plan based on Alcat results. The individualized plan had excellent outcomes.
The other nice thing about this testing is that, while you can do an elimination diet trial without the test there are often foods
that show up on this test that you would never think to eliminate.
A typical elimination diet, in case you have never heard of doing this, involves removing the most common food allergens like gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, etc from your diet for a period of time and then re-introducing the food to see how you respond. Doing an elimination diet trial is very time consuming and can be quite cumbersome. It is possible to go months without seeing much change or benefit. When you narrow down your cell-mediated reactions and follow a plan specific to ONLY you, benefit can be noted in as little as 4-6 weeks.
I hope this has helped you understand the what, why, and how of food sensitivity testing. I’m always happy to chat about your health, hear your experience, and answer any questions you may have.