Food Sensitivity Testing
“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.” – Hippocrates
There is growing concern surrounding our food supply from foreign and domestic producers and the increasing emergence of food tolerances, sensitivities, and allergies, which hence will be referred to collectively as “Toxic Food Syndrome.” Food sensitivity testing is a process we can use to diagnose any issues related to this problem.
It is estimated that 95% of the population suffers from toxic food syndrome, with the vast majority of these people completely unaware that there is a connection between the foods they are ingesting and the chronic diseases they struggle with. With the nation’s medical care costs approaching $1.2 trillion, and with $900 billion of those dollars spent on chronic disease care, it is reckless not to promote and find preventable means of addressing this epidemic through our diet, a cornerstone of health and wellness.
Toxic food syndrome is a non-discriminating purveyor of disease promotion and aggravation, cutting across all lines of age, gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, and education level. From children through the geriatric population, people are being poisoned by the foods they are eating, even if they are generally recognized as “healthy” foods.
Symptoms Requiring Food Sensitivity Testing
Food sensitivities can cause a variety of chronic symptoms which you may be surprised to know could be linked to foods. The following is a brief list of disease process symptoms that can be greatly or totally alleviated through identification and elimination of offending/reactive foods:
* Arthritic pain
* Aching muscles
* Acne and rashes
* Fluid retention
* Mental fog
* Sinus congestion
* Weight gain
Children struggling with ADD/ADHD and other childhood developmental disorders have been helped immensely with the identification of offending foods in their diet, as have children with chronic ear infections. Adults with irritable bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and arthritis have also been helped tremendously with identification and elimination of trigger foods. Food sensitivity testing can help us pinpoint the exact causes of these issues.
What are the differences between intolerance, sensitivity, and allergy?
Food intolerance does not involve the immune system and is usually due to a missing enzyme needed to metabolize the product. For instance, a “lactose intolerant” person is unable to process milk products containing lactose because he/she lacks the enzyme lactase.
Food sensitivities do involve the immune system and are characterized as delayed-sensitivity responses that occur 2 – 12 hours after ingesting an offending food, although some reactions may not occur for up to 24 – 72 hours. Common culprits include wheat, dairy, citrus, eggs, corn, and soy. This time delay makes it difficult for a person to relate the food with a corresponding symptom/s due to the delay. Food sensitivities are the most common type of toxic food syndrome and, while non-life threatening, they cause untold and extensive havoc over a lifetime.
Food allergies, while much rarer in the general population, are very serious immune system responses that can lead to anaphylactic shock and death if not treated immediately. This response can happen almost immediately to just minutes after ingesting an offending food, most notably peanuts, nuts, fruits, and shellfish.
What causes food sensitivities?
Most food sensitivities are due to protein complexes of the ingested food that are not adequately broken down by the digestive system, which the immune system cannot identify/recognize as nutritious and beneficial. The immune system responds with the production of antibodies, causing a cascade of reactions in the body. Over the course of time these continual assaults wear out the immune system’s first line of defense, secretory IgA, which is a protective mucosal layer on the inside of the gut. This ultimately leads to a pro-inflammatory environment causing a loss of the tight-cell junctions, which is responsible for “leaky gut syndrome.”
The result of this process can be symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, rashes, headaches, fatigue, and fluid retention.
How do you know if you have food sensitivities?
Of over 100 food sensitivity/allergy tests that I have administered to my patients, all have identified offending foods. On average 16-17 foods out of the 115 tested will show up as reactive foods, with a low of 4 to a high of 38. The reactive foods are also rated from +1 to +4, indicating mild/moderate reactivity to severe reactivity, respectively.
How is testing for food sensitivities performed?
A simple blood sample is obtained, the serum is separated from the sample, and the sample is sent to the testing laboratory. The serum is then scanned against 115 food samples utilizing ELISA microtiter plate technology, a state of the art approach to this type of testing. A computer-generated printout follows the testing and is coupled with helpful sections identifying how to substitute other foods, create healthier recipes, and more.
I have used this test with patients as young as 2.5 years, with remarkable health improvement after following the elimination/rotation dietary regimen.
What happens after receiving the food sensitivity/allergy information?
The reactive foods are ideally eliminated for a period of 60 – 90 days, while simultaneously adopting a rotational food plan. The rotation diet embodies the idea that you don’t eat the same food multiple times in a day, while also allowing for a day off between eating that food again in order to give your immune system a broad spectrum of foods to avoid over-sensitization. After the 60 – 90 day abstention period you can reintroduce the mild to moderately reactive foods on a rotational basis, usually without reacting to them as before.
In closing, the importance of a healthy, balanced diet is a critical cornerstone of optimal health & wellness, while simultaneously functioning as part of a preventive/proactive lifestyle. Understanding that the “one-diet-fits-all” approach is ineffective and harmful, it is important to identify seemingly healthy foods that may in fact be harming your unique body. This can have a tremendous impact not only on symptom reduction, but in most cases can actually arrest and reverse many disease processes. As borrowed from the computer world, garbage in, garbage out! Learn which foods are best for you and begin that path to optimal health and wellness.
Dr. David M. Newirth is a naturopathic doctor and operator of Alaska Natural Health Solutions in Anchorage, AK. He can be contacted @ 907-569–5757.