Food Sensitivity Testing
Food intolerances are very common and can contribute to a variety of health concerns. It is important to distinguish between food allergies and food sensitivities.
Food allergies come from a reaction in the IgE portion of the immune system and cause a release of histamine. Allergic responses occur soon after being exposed to specific food and symptoms can include hives, swollen tissues (throat, tongue, hands, feet), difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness or even death. These include anaphylactic reactions and usually require emergency medical care and the use of epinephrine or an Epipen. Allergic reactions to food can be life threatening. The foods most commonly responsible for food allergies are shellfish, seafoods, tree nuts, soy, peanuts, wheat, eggs and milk. Food allergies are tested by allergists with skin prick testing. A small amount of liquid containing protein molecules from each food is deposited on the skin. Then the superficial layer skin is punctured which exposes the food proteins to your immune system. If the skin reacts with redness, swelling or other signs of inflammation, you are allergic to that food.
Food sensitivities or intolerances are typically less severe and the symptoms can be experienced differently by different people. These reactions are thought to involve the IgG and IgA portions of the immune system and originate in the digestive system. They cause the release of inflammatory markers called cytokines that circulate throughout the body contributing to a variety of symptoms related to chronic inflammation. This inflammation can be present long term and can contribute to chronic health conditions. These reactions are typically slower and symptoms can occur 24-72 hours after exposure. Symptoms can include:
· Brain fog
· Joint or muscle pain
· Low mood or irritability
· Digestive dysfunction
· Skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, etc)
· Low immune function
Food sensitivity testing involves a blood sample being taken at a local LifeLabs facility. The immune cells in this blood sample are then tested against a variety of food proteins and the level of reaction is determined. The foods will be ranked based on their level of reactivity and you will receive a printout of red, yellow and green foods. The green foods have minimal inflammatory reaction and can be consumed regularly. Yellow foods have moderate inflammatory reaction and can be consumed minimally. Red foods have high inflammatory reaction and should not be consumed. There are a few different options when it comes to which foods to test for sensitivity and we can discuss which one will work best for you based on your symptoms.
I work with my patients to figure out how to eliminate inflammatory foods from their diet and replace them with less inflammatory foods. By identifying the foods that are causing inflammation in your body, we can develop a diet that works for you as an individual. You will also begin to understand the impact certain foods have on your health and what to expect when you are exposed to those foods.