Food Allergy Testing - Your Questions Answered
Food allergies are a common concern for people coming to see a naturopathic doctor. "Am I allergic to gluten? Can I tolerate dairy? Someone told me not to eat corn - is that true?" Enter food allergy testing. Clinically it can be a useful test to do, and provides great feedback for you, the patient, when you're unclear of which foods are causing problems.
What is a food allergy?
A Food allergy (or more accurately "sensitivity"*) refers to an immune response that your body has towards food proteins (e.g. gluten, whey, casein, egg white). Food allergies contribute to digestive distress, general inflammation, anxiety, skin rashes, fatigue, and many more symptoms, worsened by consumption of foods your body sees as foreign.
How is the food allergy test done?
Food allergy testing is done via blood. The test offered in-office at our clinic is a blood-spot test, meaning it takes about 5 minutes to do a fingerstick/puncture, and extract 5 drops of blood onto a sample card. Painless and quick. The test is then sent away, and analyzed for the presence of specific antibodies (IgG type) to food proteins. The presence of IgG antibodies indicates likely inflammatory reactions in the gut when the food is eaten.
How long do results take to get back?
Usually it's a 3-4 week wait for analysis and results to be sent back to the doctor.
Why is it important to review the results with your naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic doctors are able to interpret the results and offer suggestions to make the diet planning easier. Naturopathic interpretation helps decrease the shock and occasional panic that patients feel when they see the results, ("what?! I'm allergic to eggs???"). Results are listed in mild, moderate, and severe categories. Your naturopathic doctor can review the test results with you, group foods based on likelihood of associated allergens, (for example, did you know bananas and avocados are in the latex family?), suggest optimal dietary plans, offer re-introduction schedules, and expand on the information.
What benefits will I see from avoiding foods on the test results?
Avoiding food allergies will allow you to feel more energized, clearer in your thinking, enjoy glowing skin, improve the quality of nails and hair, have better bowel movements (solid, formed poop!), decrease gas and bloating, improve your mood, improve exercise performance and recovery, strengthen your immune system, and allow for better function of hormone pathways.
Book your appointment today and see what foods your body would rather not be digesting.
*A note about the term allergy vs. sensitivity: Medically speaking, a true allergy is the immediate response that occurs after touching or ingesting something, causing signs and symptoms like hives, swelling, itching, and difficulty swallowing. An allergy is diagnosed by skin scratch testing, and is associated with IgE antibodies. A sensitivity is a slower process, taking hours to days to mount a response - less severe, and not life-threatening. Sensitivities are what show up in food intolerances, and are measured via IgG antibodies.