What is food sensitivity?

Food Sensitivities

Worried you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance? Feeling gassy, bloated, tired? Many people think that a response to a food sensitivity is limited to digestive issues, but listed below are seven unsuspecting and very unexpected signals that you may have a sensitivity:

Headaches (Common offenders: Processed foods, cured meats)

Weight Gain (Common culprits: Processed carbohydrates, added sugars, highly processed meats)

Infection (Common offenders: corn, gluten, dairy, soy)

Joint Pain and Muscle Aches (Common culprits: milk, eggs, soy, gluten, corn, yeast, sugar, peanuts)

Mood Swings (Common culprits: Wheat, dairy, fruit)

Stress and Dizziness (Common culprits: Fermented foods (wine, aged cheese, cured meats))

Three unique terms are widely used for adverse reactions to foods: food intolerance, food sensitivity, and food allergy. Some differences in these terms  are:

Food intolerances do not involve your immune system.

Food sensitivities and food intolerances generally aren't life-threatening but might make you feel bad. They involve some antibodies in your immune system.

Food allergy is for possibly life-threatening food reactions that involve immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in the immune system. These are real food allergies.

We will explore in this post the food sensitivity science,  tests, at-home evaluation kits, elimination diets, and more. As digestive disorders are increasing, getting increasingly important to know any food sensitivities and intolerances you are dealing with may contribute to or cause your symptoms.

See: Food allergy diet

Food sensitivity science

Conventional doctors rarely test for sensitivities and intolerances. Food allergy testing won't automatically show you food intolerances or sensitivities and vice versa. Studies on testing for food sensitivities and intolerances aren't as advanced or broadly recognized as those for allergies. Conventional medicine doctors will seldom check for sensitivities and intolerances since there are limited studies on those tests' accuracy. Lots of folks believe elimination diets continue to be the golden standard for figuring out food sensitivities. Anecdotally, patients have benefited from performing testing.

You may come up negative for food allergies but favorable for food sensitivities and intolerances - to the same food.

In a true food allergy, an individual's immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in reaction to her ingestion of a specific food. These IgE antibodies start a chain of events that may affect the skin (hives), the respiratory tract (wheezing), and/or the GI tract (nausea ).

Even more common than food allergies, food intolerances are estimated to affect up to 20 percent of the industrialized nations' population. Food intolerances aren't IgE mediated and are considered to be brought on by specific enzyme deficiencies, diminished food ingestion, and other GI difficulties. Often, additional immunoglobulin antibody responses may also be involved (IgA and IgG).

See: Eliminating Food Allergies to Help your Healing Process

What Is a food sensitivity test?

What Is The Best Food Sensitivity Test?

Certain foods can make you feel unwell at times, regardless if they are healthy or not. They may trigger numerous food sensitivity symptoms, like headaches, digestive problems, joint pain, or skin issues. It can be challenging to determine which foods are the culprits, as food sensitivity reactions are often delayed by a few hours or longer after eating the meals. Some health professionals provide food sensitivity tests to help identify potentially problematic foods. Food sensitivity isn't a formal medical diagnosis. However, this term is used by the manufacturers of blood tests claimed to detect sensitivities to certain foods.

The evidence supporting the ability of those blood tests to evaluate problems with eating particular foods is questionable. Here is a closer look at what food sensitivities are and the best tests to identify them.

See: Why Am I So Gassy & How To Stop Farting

Types of food sensitivity blood tests

While food sensitivity isn't an official identification, the prevalence of food sensitivity blood tests has increased. Evidence is lacking to support the use of those tests in diagnosing adverse reactions to foods. There is an assortment of blood tests being offered that promise to test for food sensitivities. Similar to allergy testing, these tests typically search for immunoglobulin antibodies: For food allergies, blood tests and skin pricks measure a protein called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, are utilized to diagnose them. The presence of IgE antibodies generally indicates an immune system reaction.

Food sensitivity evaluations typically search for the presence of IgG (not IgE). IgG antibodies haven't been demonstrated to reliably identify either food allergies or sensitivities. Most people today produce IgG antibodies after eating meals. They aren't specific to an individual's sensitivity, although beyond or regular exposure to a food can cause these levels to be greater.

Because IgG blood tests haven't been demonstrated to determine food sensitivities or allergies, there's a lack of evidence to support making changes based on their findings. The limitations suggested by IgG test results can direct one to avoid healthy foods. Or, they may prompt people with food allergies to include foods that could be detrimental to them.

Professional organizations that focus on treating food allergies don't recommend IgG testing because of the absence of evidence for this use. The lack of research is the reason insurance companies won't pay the costs of the tests. Food allergy tests will look to find out whether your immune system is responding to a specific food by measuring IgE antibodies, and these evaluations are thought to be standard across traditional medicine. Food sensitivities or intolerances only occasionally involve the immune system, are usually tested through IgG or IgA antibodies, and aren't immediately life-threatening. However, they can become very serious if unmanaged.

- Elimination Diet and Challenge Test

An elimination diet is the standard test for identifying food sensitivities. This test is then followed by an "oral challenge" of eating the eliminated foods one by one after a period of avoidance to ascertain your reaction. If you don't stick to an elimination diet before the oral challenge for food sensitivities, your symptoms in response to swallowing a food antigen could be masked or challenging to detect.

When you stop ingesting a problem food, you might have temporary withdrawal symptoms. You may need to stick to an elimination diet for around two weeks before those symptoms clear up, and you are ready to begin analyzing foods in an oral challenge. An elimination diet requires commitment, in addition to careful record-keeping. You have to be aware of the ingredients of everything you eat, making eating out difficult. The foods that you avoid in an elimination diet change. Some practitioners might just have you remove foods suspected to be an issue, such as dairy products or wheat.

Others may have you remove all but a couple of foods for a brief period and then gradually reintroduce them. To decrease the guesswork about which foods are debatable, some professionals first give you a food sensitivity test to help direct your elimination diet.

- Cell-Based Tests

Cell-based evaluations for food sensitivities started with the cytotoxic test popularized in the 1950s. Various states banned this test in 1985 because of problems with its precision. Since that time, immunologists have enhanced and automated the testing technologies. 2 cell-based blood tests available are MRT and ALCAT. Though some professionals have reported that they find these evaluations helpful, published studies on the tests are restricted.

- Mediator Release Test (MRT)

This test requires a blood sample, typically drawn from a vein in your arm, and accumulated using a company's kit with a patent on the test. When your white blood cells"shrink" when subjected to a food antigen from the MRT test, it induces a change in the solids (white blood cells) to liquid (plasma) ratio of your blood sample, which can be measured to ascertain your reactivity to the meals. The white cells shrinkage upon exposure to a food antigen, it indicates they have released chemical mediators, such as histamine and leukotrienes, that could provoke symptoms in the body. The MRT results based diet is known as LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance). It is directed by health professionals, including dietitians, trained at the evaluation and its interpretation.

- Antibody-Based Tests

Antibody-based food sensitivity tests measure your generation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to foods. They are available under different brand names. This type of evaluation has more published research than other food sensitivity tests. These studies indicate that eliminating foods directed by IgG tests can improve symptoms in people with IBS and migraines. However, many scientists urge people not to use IgG food sensitivity tests, stating that IgG antibodies against foods may only demonstrate that you have been subjected to foods. Sometimes, they could be protecting against food allergy reactions. However, other scientists say it is not normal for a person to have elevated IgG antibodies against meals. Another concern is that individual labs that do IgG tests develop their in-house practices.  It's suggested that you simply use an IgG test if it assesses your blood sample double with each antigen in side-by-side testing to minimize errors in your results.

Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT)

The ALCAT test preceded the MRT test, but many healthcare professionals and labs still provide it. To assess what foods could be provoking a response for you, it only measures changes in the dimensions of your white blood cells when subjected to individual food antigens, which might decrease accuracy. Cell-based blood tests, such as the MRT and ALCAT, assess changes in your white blood cells when subjected to food antigens. 

- Other Tests

Several different food sensitivities tests could be used by some other practitioners, like naturopaths, chiropractors, and natural medicine practitioners. These tests are provocation tests, electrodermal screening, and muscle response testing.

- Provocation and Neutralization Test

In this evaluation, extracts of foods supposed to provoke reactions are injected beneath your skin, typically in your upper arm. After 10 minutes, you're assessed to determine if elevated swelling forms (or wheal) indicate a response to the tested food. You are assessed again after 10 minutes. When there's no skin response, the administered dose is known as your neutralizing dose. Several progressively weaker dilutions may be needed to discover the neutralizing dose. You can be taught to give yourself shots often to desensitize you to that food. Given the number of injections you need to get within the testing, it might be a slow and possibly painful procedure.

- Electrodermal Screening

This test determines the changes in your skin's electrical activity at acupuncture points when presented with different food antigens. With this evaluation, you hold an electrode in one hand. A connected computer records the date and compares it to digitized frequencies of individual foods. According to your skin's electrical resistance, when contested each food, a numerical reading is generated that corresponds to a level of response to the food.

Muscle Response Test

Also called applied kinesiology, the muscular reaction evaluation involves holding a vial containing a food antigen in one hand while extending your other arm parallel to the ground. The practitioner then pushes down on the arm. When it's easily pushed, signaling weakness, you're told that you are sensitive to the food being tested. The degree to which this system's precision varies with the professional's ability level is unknown.

See: Joint Pain Treatment Options

Where can you get the food sensitivity test?

- Where can you purchase my IGG Blood Test? You can find many choices online for places to purchase your food allergy tests. In the direct-to-consumer testing for IgG blood tests, no physician is needed. Make sure that the test is for IgG when searching for food sensitivities. IgE tests are for food allergies.Some use these terms interchangeably,

- Can you use insurance? No, IgG tests are not covered by insurance, whether you get them via a functional medicine doctor or not. However, the advantage of ordering yourself is saving time and money.

- Where do I get my blood drawn? The majority of these tests are at-home test kits - in which you will do a finger prick with a few drops of blood onto a test strip, which you will mail back to the corporation.

- How do these firms test & deliver results? You usually order the test on the internet. They email you a test kit, which you will finish at home and mail back. Results typically take about two weeks to appear and are reviewed by a doctor before they reach you. You also have the chance to talk to a physician through the majority of these companies.

See: Curcumin, a constituent of curry, suppresses IgE-mediated allergic response and mast cell activation at the level of Syk.

Food sensitivity tests precautions

Food sensitivity tests include several caveats. The biggest one is that the tests aren't meant to be used in diagnosing true food allergies. In case you've got a diagnosed allergy to a food, like peanuts, you should continue to avoid that food, irrespective of your results on a food sensitivity test. If you're contemplating using these tests to detect food sensitivities, realize that they aren't seen as proven, so insurers may offer little if any coverage for them. Most tests cost a few hundred dollars. Any food sensitivity test results should be cross-checked with what happens in your body when you eat the meals.

One possible reason for disagreements is that most labs performing food sensitivity tests utilize food extracts from raw foods. But when food is cooked or processed, new antigens might be created, and present antigens might be ruined.

The purity of each food infusion (antigen) used by some labs also changes, which may skew your results. Food sensitivities can also change over time, based on what you have been eating. Incorrect food sensitivity test results can result in possible nutrient deficiencies, unnecessary dietary restrictions, and diminished quality of life. Researchers and health professionals have more to learn about food sensitivities. Testing and treatment will continue to evolve with continuing analysis.

See: Herbs For Migraine Headaches Remedies

Summary

An elimination diet followed by systematically eliminating foods one by one after a period of avoidance is the best approach to determine food sensitivities. Laboratory evaluations, such as IgG antibody tests, have limitations, and their accuracy may vary by laboratory. Yet, they may cut the guesswork. Still, these tests have not been compared against each other in controlled, published studies, so it is uncertain whether one evaluation is far better than another.

If you believe certain foods are causing health issues, what should you do? Ask your medical provider how you can find out more about food allergies and food intolerances. A registered dietitian may design an eating plan for you based on your identification, health needs, and food preferences. If you suspect you are having adverse reactions to foods, begin by consulting your physician, who may consult with a gastroenterologist, allergy physician, or another practitioner to guide you.

See: Yoga Poses For Constipation, Gas & Bloating Relief

References

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3. Tomicic S, Norrman G, Fälth-Magnusson K, et al. High levels of IgG4 antibodies to foods during infancy are associated with tolerance to corresponding foods later in life. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2009;20:35–41

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See: Migraine diet

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