Traditionally, the way to define a food intolerance is by trial and error. But symptoms — such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, indigestion, heartburn, joint pain, eczema, bloating, stomach pain, anal bleeding, sleeplessness and weight gain — are not always related, making elimination diets difficult to track. Blood tests are less time-consuming and don’t require the same motivation and compliance.
For example, about seven years ago, Anna started to get bloated and constipated after she ate.
A colonoscopy revealed nothing and doctors insisted she was fine. But her symptoms continually got worse. They became so severe, she had to buy bigger clothes to accommodate her distended belly. She had also become uncharacteristically exhausted in the afternoon and evening.
“I couldn’t go to the bathroom without a laxative. I looked like I was pregnant. It seemed to depend on what food I ate, but I couldn’t associate it with anything specifically.”
Anna had an appointment in our office and ordered a blood test that looked-for food intolerances. Two days after she stopped eating the foods she tested intolerant to, her symptoms disappeared.
Anna’s condition is not unusual.
A recent study of the University of Calgary put Canada at the top of the global list for irritable bowel syndrome. And researchers say the condition is growing in prevalence. In 2004, the British journal Gut published a controlled trial on irritable bowel syndrome that showed the average sufferer has six to seven food intolerances. It found that 75 per cent of sufferers can be helped by strictly eliminating problem foods.
Irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, indigestion, heartburn, joint pain, eczema, bloating, stomach pain, anal bleeding, sleeplessness and weight gain can all be symptoms of food intolerances.
He says many doctors routinely prescribe anti-inflammatories and painkillers, which fight the symptoms, not the cause, so any relief is temporary.
Food intolerances are different than food allergies. Allergic reactions occur immediately with symptoms such as hives, swollen lips and throat, and anaphylaxis. Food intolerances cause an immune reaction that is delayed by hours or even days, but can intensify over time if the intolerant food continues to be consumed. Because of that delay, they are more difficult to identify. Top culprits are wheat, gluten, dairy and yeast.
Intolerance to a food causes inflammation, which sets the stage for microscopic particles of food to get into the bloodstream, causing the immune system to react. The symptoms differ in nature and intensity for everyone.
50 per cent of our patients have food intolerances and almost all find relief once they discover what food it is and remove it from their diet.
I have seen things like migraines and joint pains go away with the elimination of certain foods that people are intolerant to.
Our patient, suffered from severe asthma, as well as environmental and food allergies, from a young age was treated by elimination specific foods.
Chronic sinus infections led to numerous courses of antibiotics. Maria saw allergists and ear, nose and throat specialists but couldn’t find relief. Elimination of sugar gave her permanent relieve.
“No doctor I was seeing was treating the whole picture. They were just looking at one thing or another. They just threw prescriptions at me and tried to treat everything in isolation,” Maria says.
We suggested Maria test for food intolerances.
Maria did the pinprick test and discovered she was severely sensitive to eggs, yeast, peanuts and almonds, and moderately sensitive to gluten and wheat. She decided to remove those foods from her diet for six months.
“Within a couple of weeks, I was starting to notice differences,” she says. Her sinuses and eczema improved and overall, she felt better. “I felt like I really turned a corner once I stopped eating those things.”
It’s now been two years and her symptoms remain in check, but they occasionally return when she cheats on her diet.
IgG Food Sensitivity
Food sensitivities are delayed reactions to specific foods that are triggered by IgG antibodies. In an IgG reaction, the IgG antibodies attach themselves to the food antigen and create an antibody-antigen complex. These complexes are normally removed by special cells called macrophages. However, if they are present in large numbers and the reactive food is still being consumed, the macrophages can’t remove them quickly enough. The food antigen-antibody complexes accumulate and are deposited in body tissues. Once in tissue, these complexes release inflammation causing chemicals, which may play a role in numerous diseases and conditions.
Why Test IgG Food Sensitivity?
There is a growing body of evidence to support the clinical benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from the diet. IgG food sensitivities have been implicated in migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome (alternating diarrhea and constipation). Bloating and indigestion are also common food sensitivity reactions, as is fatigue. Continued consumption of reactive foods may contribute to weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. Eczema is also commonly associated with food reactions. Because IgG food reactions take hours or days to develop, this makes it difficult to determine which food is responsible for the reaction without doing testing.
IgG Food Intolerance Testing
IgG antibody detection is the most sensitive allergy food testing available today.
Simple elimination diets can be used to identify problem. It can take a long time to identify the offending foods and achieve long-term health improvements, even with help from a health professional.
Detection of food-specific IgG antibodies is recognized as a reliable method to identify foods that may be causing symptoms and to guide the design of elimination diets based on the IgG antibody results.
The Health Food Sensitivity Test is performed using state-of-the-art technology.
Originally invented for studying DNA and gene expression, this microarray technology has now been extended to Food Sensitivity testing. The Health Food Sensitivity test is a sensitive and accurate technique that can better detect the presence of IgG food-specific antibodies to over 200 commonly eaten foods.
Increasing Importance of Food Sensitivity
Adverse reactions to foods are causing increasingly more health problems. Approximately 5% of the population is affected by a food allergy, which produces an immediate onset of the symptoms often associated with a ‘allergic response’. However, it is estimated that more than 40% of the population have a delayed type of reaction, which occurs several hours or days after a food is consumed the delay in the appearance of symptoms, makes it difficult to determine which foods could be considered as the trigger of the health problem.
- Finger-Prick Blood Sample: Less invasive than venous blood sample
- Quantitative IgG Level: Food reactivity can be compared for optimal dietary planning
- "Traffic Light" Results: Easy to Identify the 'problem' foods to avoid
- Choice of Food Panels: Select the most appropriate depending on diet and budget
If the small intestine becomes damaged (e.g. by stress, infections and / or medicines), partially digested foods can reach the blood stream. Certain areas of these foods are recognized as ‘antigens’ by the immune system and special IgG antibodies are formed against them. These IgG antibodies bind to the specific food proteins to form immune complexes, which can accumulate in joints, organs and the vascular system. Immune complexes are disseminated by an inflammatory reaction. If this recurs frequently, it can lead to a chronic process and subsequent health conditions.
Common symptoms include:
- Chronic gastro-intestinal problems: irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, bloating
- Skin problems: itching and psoriasis
- Depression and anxiety
- Headaches and migraines
- Weight control
- Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia
- Attention deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder