Before we talk about testing options, “First things first”. Because it’s really important. There are big differences between:
- food allergies
- food senstivities
- food intolerances
And understanding the difference and using the correct terminology is important.
The terms food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances are often confused and used interchangeably, although they are unique physiological conditions. A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms, and, in some cases, an allergic food reaction can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, symptoms of food intolerances or sensitivities are generally less serious, but often more difficult to detect or diagnose.
Now that we have that out of the way… you can have each of these things tested because you want to know if they are affecting your life.
But it is important to know the differences between allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities in order to understand the differences in testing options.
In short: Food allergies and sensitivities are reactions that trigger our immune systems but which may differ in severity and impact. Food intolerances are non-immune reactions.
Food sensitivities can cause immune reactions that are delayed by hours or even days. These food reactions are usually caused by an imbalance in the gastrointestinal system that is affecting the immune system. One such imbalance is increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.”
Symptoms of food sensitivities differ from person to person and can depend on the type of food eaten. Some symptoms are migraines, headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, depression, anxiety, unintentional weight loss or gain, dark under-eye circles, asthma, irregular heartbeat, irritable bowels, bloating, wheezing, runny nose, sinus problems, ear infections, food cravings, muscle or joint pain, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, bladder control issues, fatigue, hyperactivity, hives, rashes, dry skin, excessive sweating, and acne.
For food sensitivities, I can easily help you with state-of-the-art testing with Vibrant Wellness. You may purchase direct from my shop. And as always I’m happy to discuss further if you wish to book a call. Vibrant offer standard sensitivity testing (IgA and IgG) as well as more advanced testing (IgG4 and C3d). The latter may be helpful in more complicated cases. A sample of a food sensitivity test can be found HERE.
IgE allergy and food additive sensitivities can be added to these tests as well.
Something that makes Vibrant Wellness testing truly unique and state-of-the-art is that they also offer Zoomer tests which tests a given food in great detail down to peptide level. Testing for food sensitivities at the peptide level increases the sensitivity of the test because peptides in foods are highly specific to the food from which they are derived, and cannot induce cross-reactivity or be ‘confused’ by the immune system for another food protein, i.e. a more accurate test and fewer false positives.
Most other labs use ELISA testing for food intolerances and have been using this technology for about 30 or 40 years, but Vibrant is the only functional medicine laboratory that utilizes a chemi-luminescent method of detecting food sensitivities on a silicon chip. Their proprietary technology enables them to provide the highest sensitivity of detection with validated reproducibility.
Common food sensitivities: cow’s milk (and other dairy products), eggs, gluten (from wheat, rye, and barley), soy, shellfish, and tree nuts. Many other foods and ingredients can also cause sensitivity reactions.
If we’re not assessing, we’re guessing.
True food allergies are severe, and often immediate, immune reactions to food. These reactions begin to cause symptoms immediately after a trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include a rash, swollen or itchy tongue, runny nose, hives, abdominal pain, vomiting, trouble breathing, coughing, wheezing, or a closed airway.
If you think you have a food allergy, you can often get tested free of charge via your GP, but private tests are also available. These generally test for something called IgE – Immunoglobulin E. This is a protein released by the immune system in response to an allergen
If you wish to discuss food allergy testing please do book a brief call with me. Although I would urge you to speak with your doctor if you have any suspicions of severe food allergies as these can be very serious, life-threatening even, and you may require medical intervention.
Common food allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and sesame. Many other foods can also cause allergic reactions.
Food intolerances are non-immune reactions to certain food components (e.g., lactose, histamine, alcohol, etc.) that occur when a person is lacking the digestive enzyme or nutrient responsible for breaking down those food components. Intolerances can cause flushing, cold or flu-like symptoms, inflammation, and general discomfort.
Lactose intolerance is a classic example in which certain people lack the enzyme lactase and cannot break down this carbohydrate found in milk.
Some intolerances can be easily tested for. I am happy to discuss your particular case in a brief chat to see what might be available to you. Book a call HERE.
Common food intolerances: dairy products (lactose), sulfites, histamines, lectins, preservatives, artificial colors, fillers, flavorings, chocolate, citrus fruits, and acidic foods.
What’s on offer?
I am pleased to be able to offer my clients the state of the art food reaction testing from Vibrant Wellness. Vibrant are a CLIA-certified laboratory (USA) providing comprehensive and accurate testing.
From a general food intolerance test of 96 foods testing at IgA, IgG, IgG4, and C3d levels or testing for allergies (IgE level) to Zoomer tests which can provide a deep dive into foods by testing at the peptide level.
The Wheat Zoomer can give an enormous amount of information around both celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity as well as giving a view of intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).
The Gut Zoomer is a stool test which can provide a comprehensive view of what’s going on in the gut.
To the truly unique Lectin Zoomer, which detects which foods containing lectins you might be sensitive to.