Have you ever thought about getting a proper intolerance test carried out? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to find out exactly what your body doesn’t particularly like and then amend your diet accordingly? Well, I did exactly that and the results which I will discuss later are pretty surprising, but first lets think about how accurate these tests are.
What is the difference between an intolerance and an allergy?
ALLERGY (dictionary definition):
“A damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially a particular food, pollen, fur, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive.”1
INTOLERANCE (dictionary definition):
“An inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.”2
An allergy is clearly much more serious and anything that provokes an immune response is worrying. Whereas an intolerance, although it can be very disruptive, is unlikely to require medical assistance, i.e. digestive upset.
There are a few different kinds of intolerance tests that can be carried out not all of which I am familiar with. However, in my case a sample of blood was taken and sent off to a lab for testing. What they are looking for is a response from antibodies called IgG (Immunoglobulin G). When food begins to digest the proteins within them are broken down and sometimes larger particles are attacked by the body thus creating a response from the antibodies. When I got my results back I was shocked to see egg white and egg yolk come up as a strong reaction. Some of the others were not a surprise – cows milk does tend to give me a throat that is hard to clear. Also back when I drank beer I know it made be bloated and tired, and bread something similar.
So why did I want to research this further? Well, because I eat eggs regularly and have never felt any adverse reactions. When a very nutritious food choice came up I was keen to question it. Now of course some people are highly allergic or intolerant to eggs and of course should avoid them. However, if this is the case, I would like to think they know about it and feel the effects after eating! As I said I have felt nothing from consuming eggs so I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the science.
Another interesting point to keep in mind is food intolerance is a symptom; it’s not a disease…Pick one food element and completely eliminate it from the diet for at least 30 days.
Chris Kressor discussed on one of his podcasts where a clinician sent off two samples from the same person at the same time in two separate containers and the results came back different.3 There are some brutally honest reviews of this kind of testing from a number of educational bodies. From the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology & American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:
“IgG subclass antibody tests for food allergy do not have clinical relevance, are not validated, lack sufficient quality control, and should not be performed.”4
From the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA):
“IgG antibodies to food are commonly detectable in healthy adult patients and children, independent of the presence of absence of food-related symptoms. There is no credible evidence that measuring IgG antibodies is useful for diagnosing food allergy or intolerance, nor that IgG antibodies cause symptoms. In fact, IgG antibodies reflect exposure to allergen but not the presence of disease.”4
Perhaps the IgG testing can be used as a starting point for an individual that is experiencing digestive distress. Looking through the list can help educate people about certain food stuffs that are possibly causing problems but to really work out what is causing a problem in the diet the considered gold standard is to plan an elimination diet. Pick one food element and completely eliminate it from the diet for at least 30 days. Slowly introduce it in again and see how the body reacts. If there is a reaction within 72 hours perhaps this is best left out of the diet all together. Then moving on to another food element and working your way through this process until you have covered all potential intolerances. It may seem laborious, especially in a world where people want instant results. However this is a sure fire way to get some accurate results and a great way to work out exactly what your body needs feel great.
Another interesting point to keep in mind is food intolerance is a symptom; it’s not a disease. So a person would do well to look a little deeper as to why they are having strong reactions to certain foods. Maybe there is some bacterial overgrowth or permeability in the gut and some repair work is also needed. As always it is imperative that we listen to our body and notice when we are thriving and when we aren’t.
- Allergy [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionaries Online. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/allergy. [Accessed 25 July 2015].
- Intolerance definition. [Def. 2]. (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionaries Online. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/intolerance. [Accessed 25 July 2015].
- Kresser, C. (2012). RHR: Testing for SIBO, Graves Disease, and all about Anaemia. In Chris Kresser. Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/rhr-testing-for-sibo-graves-disease-and-all-about-anemia/. [Accessed 25 July 2015].
- Gavura, S, (2012). IgG Food Intolerance Tests: What does the science say?. In Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/igg-food-intolerance-tests-what-does-the-science-say/. [Accessed 25 July 2015].