Testing Trends: Food Sensitivity Testing
In the last few years, food sensitivities have become a hot topic. Restaurants are making more mindful menus, packaged foods are listing off how they are free of gluten, soy etc., and more of us are getting food sensitivity blood work done to try and explain some of our symptoms.
‘Sensitivity’, however, is often being used interchangeably with allergies and intolerances.
Intolerances: Lacking an enzyme (ie. lactase) to breakdown a complex (ie. lactose) causing abdominal discomfort (gas/bloating/constipation/diarrhea).
Allergies: Immune-mediated reaction involving the immune complex IgE. The most common allergens include peanuts, shellfish and environmental allergens such as dust and pollen. Symptoms most often include skin reactions like hives, swelling of the lips and anaphylactic reactions causing respiratory changes.
Sensitivities: Immune-mediated reaction involving the immune complex IgG. The most common sensitivities include dairy, gluten and nightshades. Symptoms can present themselves anywhere from migraines to acne to anxiety.
Why Do Sensitivies Occur?
Typically, sensitivities occur due to large food particles escaping from the gut into the blood as a result of intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). This can happen for a number of reasons including low stomach acid, eating foods inflammatory in nature and altered microbiome (endotoxin irritation) to name a few.
What Are Common Signs and Symptoms?
Headaches: migraines* or otherwise
Skin conditions: psoriasis, eczema, acne
Joint pain due to deposition of immune complexes
Auto-immune conditions: Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Constipation, diarrhea, IBS*
* indicates researched conditions that benefited maximally from eliminating sensitive foods after food sensitivity testing.
Food Sensitivity Testing
Blood work reveal the level of IgG complexes (the body’s reaction to a perceived threat) of each food. At certain thresholds, each foods can cause signs and symptoms listed above.
Pros: Specific foods are tested, results are found quickly (~3 weeks) and the guess work of figuring out the sensitivity is eliminated.
Cons: More expensive that the alternative listed below and false positive can arise when there is cross-reactivity or extreme intestinal permissibility.
Alternative: If Food Sensitivity Testing isn’t right for you, the Elimination Diet is an alternative to determine your sensitivity. This is when all commonly inflammatory foods are eliminated for 4-6 weeks and then slowly reintroduced one by one for the following weeks to see what foods cause the symptom.
If you have any questions about if Food Sensitivity Testing is right for you, contact your Naturopathic Doctor or contact me to chat!