Food sensitivities and allergies drive a wide array of health issues. 70% of your immune system lives within the walls of your intestines. If you are introducing reactive foods such as wheat and dairy into those intestines on a daily basis then the risk is high for creating inflammation throughout the body. 65% of all asthma is related to food sensitivity. Heart disease is made worse, and plaque in the arteries rises when exposed to foods that drive gut inflammation. Cognition suffers and Alzheimers risk rises in the face of this inflammation. Gut inflammation and food sensitivities are a key driver of all autoimmune issues. Needless to say, this is a critical variable that needs attention.
Being allergic or sensitive to foods can be tested 4 different ways. Let’s explore the common tests done in a medical office but then really expand into how classically these food reactions have been discovered for decades – a home test you can do yourself.
Medical Testing for Food Allergies
- Skin Prick - Traditional “scratch” testing or what is sometimes called skin prick test. This involved dozens of antigens or food proteins being placed just under the skin with a needle. If you are reactive to that specific food then the area around the skin prick will turn red and swell with inflammation.
- RAST (radio-allergo-sorbent test) – is a blood test that is looking for your antibody reaction to a list of foods tested. It is reliable but will only sense IgE antibodies which is a fast-reacting immune response. It will not detect slow reactions or IgG antibodies. It is these fast reactions that commonly cause anaphylactic issues or even shock in the worst case scenario. These reactions are not nearly as common as slow IgG reactions.
- IgG Food testing – similar to RAST testing in that it is a simple blood draw but the antibodies detected are the slow reacting IgG variety. This type of testing has been studied for decades and shown to be very helpful at uncovering hidden food reactions. An IgG reaction may take 1 to 3 days to emerge so it is difficult to relates a food eaten to a specific reaction. You may have dairy on Monday and feel fine but on Wednesday develop a headache, lethargy, foggy thinking, or gut upset.
- Classic Food Elimination Trial – this is how physicians first tested patients for food sensitivity before we had fancy lab tests. Just because this approach is old doesn't mean it is ineffective or less beneficial. Some allergists will tell you it is still the truest test of reactivity to a given food.
We are still learning about food reactions, gut immune system, and the variety of elements that impact our bodies response. There is study into IgA antibodies and the impact of vitamin deficiencies and toxins such as plastic that alter our immune response. But this Classic Food Elimination Trial cuts through all of that to offer a simple insight. Is my body adversely affected by a given food? Here is how we do it.
Pick one food or even a group of foods. Let’s use nuts as a common example. Remove ALL nuts from the diet in all forms. Nut butters, raw nuts, nuts in recipes, etc. For 3 weeks no nut of any kind is to pass your lips. You are providing a window of calm where your immune system is not being provoked by that specific protein.
At the end of this 3 week period, intentionally re-introduce that food in heavy doses. For 2 days in a row eat the eliminated food twice per day. IF this food is a PROBLEM then you should see some adverse reaction by the immune system.
Now pay attention to ANY symptoms over the next 4 days. Be aware of a wide variety of potential responses and not simply gut issues like bloating or gas. Recall that the immune system in your gut is infinitely tied to the immune system that envelops your brain. This is the classic gut-Brain connection. Here are areas to monitor over the next 4 days:
- Gut: gas, bloat, heartburn, diarrhea, cramping, pain, malaise.
- Neurologic: headache, foggy thinking, sluggish mind, moody, anxiety, depression,
restless legs, sleep disturbance.
- Muscle & Bone: joint pain, swelling, ache, arthritic flare, muscle spasm
- Energy (Adrenal): fatigue, loss of drive or motivation.
- Heart: rise in blood pressure, heart rate, drop-in heart rate “variability”.
These symptoms may be slow to start or occur within the hour. Simply be alert to change. Try to reduce any other variables that might drive these changes. Keep your bedtime, workouts, and work activities as stable and predictable as possible to remove outside influence.
The 3 week abstinence from the selected food often leads to improvement in past symptoms and then the sudden reintroduction drives antibody production making those issues much easier to detect. There is a clear cause and effect. If after performing this challenge you are unsure then simply repeat it. Did you get similar or consistent findings? If so, then BELIEVE it. Your body is trying to tell you something.
If there was no apparent change after reintroduction then it suggests that this food group is not the culprit or trouble maker and you should try another. 90% of all food allergy and sensitivity comes from 8 foods. The most common foods that produce sensitivity are:
- Wheat – by far the single worst and most common.
- Caution here as wheat is a sneaky addition to many processed foods. Soy sauce contains wheat, salad dressing and sauces may contain wheat. You need to look at labels and be clear that aren’t consuming it in any form.
- Dairy – a close second. Milk, cream, cheese, and all forms.
- Tree Nuts – tree nuts are different than “peanuts” which are a legume, not a nut.
- Shellfish & Fish
- Soybean – soy milk and soybeans and products made from these.
- Eggs – both egg yolk and egg white can drive reaction.
If you are struggling to make sense of this and want support then reach out to one of the HippEvo clinicians skilled in this endeavor. It could make a huge difference in your overall health.