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Is Food Sensitivity Testing Right for Me?

by on January 26, 2017

Food sensitivity testing is by far the most common lab test I run. It’s a simple blood test done through a finger prick, that will tell you what foods your immune system is reacting to. But is it worth it? And is it the right test for you?

What are food sensitivities anyways and what do they do in my body?

Food sensitivities or food intolerances happen when your immune system recognizes a food as a foreign and mounts an immune response to it. Unlike anaphylactic shock, which is a life threatening allergy, a food sensitivity will cause what is caused a “delayed hypersensitivity response”.  Although is does not create a life threatening reaction, this chronic response by the immune system leads to chronic low-grade symptoms that can have a great impact on overall health and quality of life such as:

  • bloating
  • diarrhea / constipation / excess flatulence
  • cramping
  • heartburn
  • eczema
  • brain fog
  • weight gain
  • inflammation
  • migraines
  • environmental allergies

What will I gain from this blood test?

The blood sample is be analyzed in the laboratory in order to determine which foods the immune system are reacting to. A basic test includes 120 foods including dairy, eggs, gluten and non-gluten containing grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, meats, fish and seafood, spices and some miscellaneous items such as yeast. The report will indicate the level of reaction as well. From this information, you will know which foods to avoid in order to prevent these hypersensitivity reactions from occurring.

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms noted above, it is important to identify and avoid food sensitivities for healing to occur. The digestive system plays a major role in our overall health and it must be healthy and functioning properly in order for the rest of our body to function properly.

This is an expensive test, is there another way?

For many people, cost is a deciding factor in choosing to do this test or not. This is a very valid point. In some cases, Food Sensitivity Testing is covered by health care benefits. When it is not and testing is not an option, an elimination diet is recommended.

An elimination diet (or hypo-allergenic diet) is done by completely avoiding the most common food sensitivities for a minimum of 3 weeks and then re-introducing them one at a time in order to identify any foods that cause a reaction. When done well, the accuracy is of an elimination diet is as good as a food sensitivity test, so there is no advantage or disadvantage to the means used to identify food sensitivities.

Reasons for not choosing this diet are time, inconvenience and the commitment level required in order to it well. In some cases, an elimination diet and gut healing treatment is done initially and if symptoms persist, food sensitivity testing is done to identify any foods that may have been missed during the diet.

Once I know what my food sensitivities are, what do I do?

Once food sensitivities are identified, they must then eliminate those foods from the diet. This is often the most challenging part of identifying food sensitivities, as we must make a conscious choice every day to avoid the foods we know we are reacting to. This can mean a new way of eating, cooking more at home, finding alternatives for favourite foods,  etc. Eating habits are one of the hardest to change, but they can also be the most rewarding habits to change once you being to see positive shifts in your health! I have experienced it and I have seen many of my patients experience it as well.

Will I have to avoid those foods forever?

In most cases, once they digestive system has healed, foods can been re-introduced one at a time with no symptoms. For some individuals, this is a fairly quick process, and in others it can take a few years. In some cases, a reaction will continue to occur each time the food is ingested, but the level of the reaction may decrease. Each case is unique and there is no way of predicting

Whatever approach you take to identify your food sensitivities, I can assure you that it will be worth it for your health and well being!

 

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