Got Bloating Or Hives Dont Diagnose Your Own Food Allergy Or Sensitivity Do This Instead
If you are dealing with symptoms such as hives or bloating, you may suspect a food allergy or sensitivity. But how can you determine which foods are causing the reactions? There are so many food allergy and sensitivity tests available, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. But with the right methods anddoctor involved, you can often zero in on the problem.
Calories and macros and BMI don’t count. Here are the numbers that really matter.
How Is Food Allergy Diagnosed
Allergists and pediatric allergists are medical doctors. They have training in immunology and the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the immune system. They have advanced training in diagnosing and recommending treatment and monitoring plans for patients with different types of food allergy, including IgE antibody triggered food allergy.
Family doctors and pediatricians can also diagnose food allergy. They will refer their patients to an allergist or pediatric allergist when a more detailed assessment would be helpful.
There are three main steps an allergist will use to diagnose food allergy:
The Alcat Test Diet Plan
The scientific research is clear: adverse reactions to common foods prevent efficient fat-burning. In a study from Baylor Medical College, 98% of the subjects following an eating plan avoiding their own trigger food, as determined by the ALCAT test, decreased scale weight and/or improved their muscle to fat ratio. They also experienced improvement in skin, more energy, elimination of migraines, reduced sugar cravings, better mood and sleep, and other benefits. The ALCAT test diet plan is compatible with any other diet program.
The Advantages Of A Food Diary
It usually takes about two weeks to get the results of the tests, so my patients work on their food diary while we wait. Though it requires some effort, the food diary is actually really important, for two main reasons:Â
It helps dispel a major misconception about food allergy testing.Â
People often assume that a negative food allergy test means that food is not a cause of their symptoms. Actually, the presence of a negative food allergy test is still important information, as it then suggests a person instead may have food intolerances or sensitivities, which as I have mentioned previously, there is no good laboratory test for. From there, we can use the food diary to help figure out what those foods might be.Â
IgE food testing can provide very useful data when interpreted in the context of your medical history and food diary.Â
For example, if you had a reaction to shrimp and your food allergy test comes up positive for shrimp, there is a very good chance youâ€™re allergic to it. Nevertheless, no food allergy test is perfect. Though IgE tests are the gold standard, they can still return false positives, and need to be interpreted with the help of an allergy specialist.Â
The reason I bring up this second point is because rather than relying only on the test results, I use the food diary in combination with the results to create a blueprint for what we should do next.
What To Expect During The Visit
- Expect to answer detailed questions about your child’s or your own health history
- Have a list and description of medical conditions, health problems, past reactions and symptoms ready
- You may be asked to allow a physical exam
- You may have skin prick testing offered
- You may be offered a requisition for food-specific IgE antibody blood tests
- A follow-up visit may be recommended
How Accurate Are Positive Skin Prick And Food
Some people make an IgE antibody to a food but do not have an allergy to it. They can eat the food without having an allergic reaction. If they only had a skin prick test or IgE antibody blood test done for that food, the result would be positive. If the result was used to make a diagnosis, it would be an incorrect diagnosis.
To get the correct diagnosis, the doctor uses the health history and physical exam to assess if a food allergy is likely before testing for IgE antibodies. If the health history and physical exam indicate a food allergy is unlikely, the allergist may not offer a skin prick test or IgE antibody blood test.
The goal for a person with food allergy is to avoid only the foods that they react to. Some labs offer a test that measures IgE antibodies to a standard set of many different foods at the same time. This test is often called panel testing. Panel testing increases the risk of positive test results to foods that do not cause symptoms and the risk of an incorrect diagnosis.
Food Sensitivity Vs Food Allergy
A food sensitivity, also known as a food intolerance, delayed food allergy, or hidden food allergy, is not the same thing as a true food allergy.
“They involve different branches of the immune system,” explains Deutsch.
A true food allergy causes a rapid, violent onset of symptoms. “It’s meant to be that way,” says Deutsch. “This is an evolutionary carryover from our defenses against parasites, so the body’s reaction is to give it everything it’s got… and when this occurs with food, it can actually be life-threatening.”
“A food intolerance, on the other hand, is mediated by a different branch of the immune system,” says Deutsch. “It’s called the innate immune system as opposed to the specifc immune system, and it’s the same branch of the immune system that works as a first line of defense against bacteria. The symptom onset is different. We actually see symptoms coming on a delayed and chronic basis and a more low-grade basis, so people may be reacting to a food that they’re in contact with on a very regular basis but have no idea that it’s the food causing their fatigue, or migraines, or chronic arthritis, or disturbance to their metabolism.”
Since food allergies and food sensitivities involve different chemical pathways, they require different tests for detection. A standard allergy test cannot detect a food sensitivity.
That’s where the ALCAT test comes in.
“The ALCAT test is a medical breakthrough for the 21st century,” says Deutsch.
How To Reintroduce Foods
Reintroduce one eliminated food at a time to check for a reaction. Make a note in your food diary as to whether or not there was any reaction and what the reaction entailed. If there was no reaction at breakfast, challenge yourself with the food again at lunch. If there was no reaction at lunch, challenge again at dinner. Whether you reacted or not, eliminate the food again and test the next food on your list the following day. Reactions include:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- And any symptom that has reappeared from your list
Some foods require special testing.
- Eggs – Hard boil the eggs. Test with egg whites one day and egg yolks another day.
- Dairy – Test milk, kefir, yogurt, and butter on the same day. Test individual cheeses one day at a time.
- Citrus fruits – test each one on a separate day. Lemon and lime juice can be added to water. For the other citrus fruits, eat whole fresh fruit.
- Corn – be sure you test with organic corn on the cob or frozen organic corn.
If you experience joint pain that is relieved through the elimination diet, challenge with a possible allergen every other day, instead of each day, as it may take up to 48 hours for joint pain to appear. Other reactions generally appear within ten minutes to 12 hours.
While identifying and eliminating allergens from your diet is an essential step towards regaining your health, it is more important to heal the gut and permanently remove unhealthy foods from your diet.
Are Elimination Diets Helpful For Food Sensitivities
Elimination diets remove common offenders, like gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, etc. for a set period of time. Every elimination diet is different, as it is up to you to decide which foods to eliminate. Basically you choose the foods you want to remove, eliminate them for 4-6 weeks and then systematically re-introduce them one by one to see how your body feels.
Elimination diets are the best way to understand how foods affect your specific body. But the biggest frustration is that you may either be eliminating foods that you’re not reactive to OR completely miss foods that you are reacting to.
Bottom line: elimination diets can be really helpful, but it can be like reaching around in the dark. Testing can help guide your elimination diet so you can experience the best results possible.
Hidden Food Allergies How To Find Them How To Eliminate Them
It is no surprise that conventional doctors and alternative practitioners do not tend to see eye-to-eye on the subject of food allergies. While conventional medical doctors acknowledge type 1hypersensitivity reactions , there is little belief in delayed, hidden, or unrecognized allergic reactions and the role they play in acute and chronic medical conditions.
Alternative health care practitioners are more likely to understand the role of hidden allergies – how they impact the immune system and the gut and how addressing and eliminating these food sensitivities are essential to restoring health. Undetected food allergies are often related to recurrent infections, autoimmune diseases, diseases of the bowel, and ADHD. The book, Nutritional Medicine, lists more than 80 food allergy related conditions and diseases.
Reactions can occur hours or days after ingesting an allergen and they may not occur every time the food is ingested, making the identification of offending foods difficult to impossible, especially when several foods are at fault. Since medical testing for food allergies works well for 1 hypersensitivity allergens but is inconclusive for hidden allergens, the only way to identify hidden food allergies is through a well-planned and executed elimination diet.
You Feel Tired After You Eat Certain Foods Is Fatigue A Symptom Of Food Intolerance Or A Food Allergy
We are paying so much more attention to how food affects our health, including our fatigue.
If you have a food allergy, your body creates antibodies when you consume a certain food. Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person-to-person. The most severe symptom is , which is a hyper-reaction of the immune system that can cause restriction of the airways and a severe drop in blood pressure.
However, food sensitivities and food intolerances can also cause mild to severe effects. And included among these is fatigue.
So if you want more energy, you need to identify and remove the foods that trigger your immune system!
What Happens After Food Allergy Testing
Whether your test result is positive or negative for a food allergy, the next step is to â€œprove itâ€? through a medically supervised oral food challenge or more commonly, an elimination diet and at-home oral food challenge.
Hereâ€™s how I explain the process to my patients:
We have to think like a detective at a crime scene. We may find 20 different sets of fingerprints. Any of them could be from the guilty party, and maybe none of them are. You have to go through each person individually to rule them out as the criminal.Â
Confirming a food allergy or intolerance is kind of like that. You may find fingerprints, which are the positive test results, but none of them may be the food that’s causing the symptoms. On the other hand, you may have a negative test, which is very common. But that doesn’t mean there’s no allergy or sensitivity, just as if you donâ€™t find any fingerprints at the crime scene, it doesn’t mean there wasnâ€™t a crime.Â
You Have An Underactive Thyroid
Hypothyroidism is the medical term used to describe an underactive thyroid, and is caused by an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s disease. It’s estimated that over 15 percent of individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s suffer some kind of food intolerance.
To add to the confusion, gluten-free diets have demonstrated a positive counteractive effect against hypothyroidism. Thus, it’s believed that gluten – and potentially wheat, in general – is more frequently experienced in those with an underactive thyroid.
Differences Between Medicine Labels And Food Labels
When buying over-the-counter medicines, you should know that U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations for labeling food and medicine don’t work the same way: certain allergens that must be labeled on a food product don’t need to be labeled on a drug product.
For example, “starch” on a food label means cornstarch. On a medicine label, it could mean potato, corn, tapioca, or wheat starch. In addition, wheat starch doesn’t need to be explicitly labeled on a medication, even though any food containing wheat must spell out that fact . Similarly, food manufacturers must specifically label maltodextrin that’s derived from wheat, but this is not the case for maltodextrin that’s used in medications.
The bottom line: Don’t buy a medication over the counter unless you’re absolutely sure all the ingredients are safe for your diet and your food allergies.
Food Allergies And Intolerances: What’s What
What is a food allergy and how do they manifest? An allergic reaction is caused by the interaction between an antigen and your immune system. Reactions can range from very mild to more severe to very severe or anaphylaxis . When a reaction happens immediately after eating a food it is very easily detected. We all know someone who has this reaction to peanuts, eggs, or dairy. This immediate reaction is known as an IgE reaction and can be detected with a blood test. Many people who have this type of reaction will carry an “epi-pen” in case they have contact with the offending food. But the more common food allergies are much harder to detect and are often “hidden” because the reactions are less severe and may occur for up to 72 hours after eating the food. These are delayed reactions and are called IgG allergies. These are often foods that are eaten daily and are most often foods that are craved or are “addicted” to. Whenever I hear someone say “I can’t live without…” red flags immediately go up in my head that this is likely a problematic food.
Barb Goshorn, BS MSACN works in private practice as a nutritionist in Webster. She sees many clients for food related sensitivities. She uses applied kinesiology to help determine food intolerances and sensitivities.
Nutritip: Play Food Detective
Enlist the help of your child to uncover the hidden food allergies. Make a game out of it. Explain to your child that there’s something in some food that causes her to have a rash and a sore tummy, “Let’s see if we can figure out what it is by playing food detective.” Tell your child that “the rash gives us a clue, so we need to write down all the foods you eat, so we can figure out what causes the rash.”
STEP 3: CHALLENGE YOUR FINDINGS
It’s humanly impossible to be perfectly objective in pinpointing offending foods and what quantities of them cause reactions. Because you don’t want to eliminate nutritious foods from you or your child’s diet without good reason, it’s a good idea to test your findings by reintroducing suspicious foods one at a time, seeing if the concerning signs and symptoms reappear. If they do, that food goes on your no-no list, at least for a few months. Later you can find out whether or not your allergy is dose-related by reintroducing the food, beginning with a small amount once every four days and then increasing both the amount you eat and how often you eat it until your most annoying signs reappear. This threshold effect is especially characteristic of dairy allergies . Some people can’t even drink one glass of milk a day, but they can tolerate a cup of yogurt every other day.
How The Alcat Test Works
“A small quantity of blood is exposed to each of the different foods,” explains Deutsch.
The ALCAT test measures reactions of immune cells in the blood and generates sensitivity scores by relating effective volumetric changes in white blood cells to a control curve.
“Typcially, the white blood cells can actually be seen to be releasing mediators which are intended to neutralize or destroy the food,” says Deutsch. “They’re mistaking the food for a bacteria or virus that is potentially damaging. You can actually see, if you were to look under a microscope, these chemicals being released from the cell.”
“It’s only the cell itself which produces the mediators of inflammation and free radicals that cause damage to tissues, to DNA, to other cell membranes, and so forth, and if that doesn’t happen, then we’re not going to have any problems. And conversely, if it does, we’re going to have the generation of toxic mediators that block glucose uptake.”
Breaking Up Your Health Journey Into Small Attainable Steps May Help You Achieve Your Goals Without The Struggle
You’ve been wanting to finally live a healthier life, but does it seem like a daunting task? Maybe you’re thinking about all the changes you’d have to make or all the food you’d have to cut out. But it doesn’t have to be a huge mountain to climb! Breaking up your journey into small, attainable steps may help you achieve your health goal without the struggle.
So what’s the first thing you can do to start living healthier? Registered dietician Maya Feller says it’s pretty simple: eat more plants!
Alternative Food Allergy Tests To Avoid
In 2010, the National Institutes of Health published the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States. Those guidelines say that the diagnosis of IgE-mediated food allergy should be based on a combination of:
- A careful history of the person’s experience with the suspected foods
- Skin prick testing
- Allergen-specific IgE blood testing
- Physician-supervised oral food challenge
Teddy, age 2, undergoes a physician supervised oral food challenge. Photo credit Dana Phillips.
These guidelines are based on proven scientific facts and studies. You can learn more about recommended food allergy testing by reading Dr. David Stukus’ article on “What You Need to Know about Diagnostic Allergy Testing.” You can also view the webinar Dr. Stukus presented on “Food Allergy Testing: What You Need to Know.”
Here is where confusion starts. There are many other tests that claim to be accurate for providing “food allergy testing.” Some Internet sites and alternative medicine practitioners offer “food allergy tests.” Many of these tests claim to reveal “hidden allergies” that medical allergy tests cannot detect. These tests are not scientifically proven. They are not recommended for use in the diagnosis of food allergy.
15 Unproven Methods of Food Allergy Tests
The following is a brief description of 15 common types of alternative food allergy tests that you should avoid:
Medical review April 2015
- Alternative Food Allergy Tests to Avoid
Common Hidden Food Allergens
Foods which cause allergic reactions are allergens, and they range from mild to severe, although all symptoms should be taken very seriously.
Symptoms of a food allergy vary and can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, and even the cardiovascular system. Typically symptoms appear within minutes of eating the offending food, but sometimes it can take several hours.
Mild symptoms may include hives, eczema, a redness of the face or eyes, an itchy mouth or ear canal, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain. However symptoms can be severe, such as respiratory distress.
The top five common food allergens include:
Common hidden food allergens
However, while avoiding eggs or dairy might seem simple enough at first, it can be a minefield avoiding your food allergen if you eat out or eat processed foods.
Here are the most common ways the top five food allergens can be hidden in everyday foods:
Peanuts: Ingredients that may contain peanuts and should be avoided by those suffering from a peanut allergy include salad dressings, nougat and marzipan.
Eggs: It is the whites of the egg which contain the allergy-causing proteins. Egg protein can often be ‘hidden’ in foods such as baked goods, vaccines, mayonnaise and meringues.
Soy: Soybeans are used in most processed foods, which means it is hidden in virtually everything. These are the most common foods it is hidden in; Miso, Tofu, vegetable broth, some peanut butters and canned soups.
What You Can Do
- Tell your doctor about GI symptoms you believe could result from a food intolerance, and ask about testing for a food sensitivity or allergy.
- Follow your doctor’s advice about an elimination diet, and learn which foods you can eat and how much you can consume.
- Keep a food journal and carefully document which foods you eat and how you react to them.
- Carefully read food labels. Check the ingredients for problem foods or ingredients.
- Ask your physician about your risks from food allergies and whether you should carry an emergency .
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Men’s Health Advisor.
Who Needs Food Allergy Testing
Like any other medical test, not everyone needs food allergy testing. For example, if your reaction to a food is obvious, and you know you can no longer eat that food without a reaction, an allergy test may not be needed. Also not all adverse reactions to food are a true allergy. Instead they can be the result of a food intolerance or sensitivity, for which there are no laboratory tests.
For example, you can find out on your own if an adverse reaction to dairy products is a true dairy allergy or simply a lactose intolerance. You can use lactase supplements such as as an initial test, and if this solves the problem, you have lactose intolerance. You can continue eating dairy and avoid reactions by supplementing with Lactaid.
Of course, if you want to try to prove that a reaction is a food allergy, you can. And that can be useful, especially as some foods with other foods, meaning the proteins in those foods are similar, so they produce a similar allergic reaction. But it doesnâ€™t change the treatment, which is to stop eating the symptom-causing food, in most cases.
Some people really do need allergy testing, though. If you have an anaphylactic reaction to a food, which is when a food sends your body into shock, I believe itâ€™s important to have an IgE blood allergy test and consult with an allergy specialist for appropriate management.
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Digestive discomfortÂ
Ph: Doesnt Everyone Produce Igg Antibodies To The Food They Eat
It is true that some studies have found no difference in food-specific IgG titres between patients with suspected or confirmed food hypersensitivity and control subjects. However, there are an increasing number of studies that demonstrate significantly higher levels of food-specific IgG in certain patient groups. To give a few examples:
How Do Doctors Test For Food Allergies
How do doctors test for food allergies? – Debra
Doctors often use a combination of skin testing and blood testing to diagnose a food allergy.
One common skin test is a scratch test. For this test, a doctor or nurse will scratch the skin with a tiny bit of liquid extract of an allergen . Allergists usually do skin tests on a person’s forearm or back. The allergist then waits 15 minutes or so to see if reddish, raised spots form, indicating an allergy.
If the doctor thinks someone might be allergic to more than one thing — or if it’s not clear what’s triggering a person’s allergy — the allergist will probably skin test for several different allergens at the same time.
When a skin test shows up as positive with a certain food, that only means a person mightbe allergic to that food. In these cases, doctors may want to do additional testing.
To diagnose a food allergy for certain, an allergist might do a blood test in addition to skin testing. This involves taking a small blood sample to send to a laboratory for analysis. The lab checks the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods. If enough IgE antibodies to a particular food are in the blood, it’s very likely that the person is allergic to it.
If the results of the skin and blood tests are still unclear, though, an allergist might do something called a food challenge. During this test, the person is given gradually increasing amounts of the potential food allergen to eat while the doctor watches for symptoms.