Food Sensitivity Testing

spices on spoon

Adverse Food Reactions (AFRs) can fall into several classes within two categories: immune-mediated, and non-immune mediated. AFRs that are immune-mediated involve the immune system, and include allergies and sensitivities. Non-immune-mediated AFRs do NOT involve the immune system, but instead are caused by a lack of an enzyme. These are considered intolerances.

Food allergies are triggered when the immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) in response to the exposure to a food protein, or antigen. IgE-mediated AFRs typically happen quickly, with the ingestion of very small amounts of the antigen, and can be severe. They include swelling of the mouth and tongue, hives (urticaria), vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and shock. For suspected allergies we will recommend allergy testing.

Food sensitivities also involve the immune system, but not through the production of IgE. Other immunoglobulins, such as IgM and IgG, can be involved in food sensitivities, as can inflammatory mediators such as T-cells and Complement, other players in the immune system. AFRs in this form can occur quickly, but often are delayed by as much as 72 hours, making them difficult to identify. For this reason, at our practice utilize Elimination Diets, which continue to be the gold standard method for identifying sensitivities according to IFNA and IFM. Serum food sensitivity panels are also available, however they do include IgG antibodies, which are not necessarily a sign of a food sensitivity as they can render a protect effect. Work with your dietitian to discuss if this is a good option for you.

 

The method is highly standardized and involves removing suspected foods for 3-4 weeks, and then reintroducing them one at a time spaced 3-4 days apart and monitoring for a robust response. The barrier of inflammation that was masking the reaction to the trigger food heals during the elimination period, allowing for a robust response from the immune system which is felt upon reintroduction. A gut healing protocol is then employed to help diminish and even heal food sensitivities. 

Food sensitivities have been associated with many chronic conditions, including:​ 

  • ADD / ADHD

  • Arthritis (Inflammatory)

  • Asthma

  • Atopic Dermatitis

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

  • Depression

  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis

  • Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis

  • Epilepsy

  • Fibromyalgia

  • GERD

  • IBS

  • Interstitial Cystitis

  • Metabolic Syndrome

  • Migraine

  • Otitis Media

  • Rhinitis, Sinusitis (Non-Seasonal)

  • Sinus Headache (Chronic)

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Urticaria (Chronic)

Food intolerances can occur when a person doesn’t produce an enzyme necessary for the digestion of some form of a naturally-occurring sugar. Examples include lactose, sucrose, and fructose intolerances. These are conditions we test for at our practice using Hydrogen Breath Testing to rule out. The results of these food intolerances are typically short-term gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Other food intolerances are related to chemicals found in certain classes of plants, or in aged foods. These include histamine, tyramine, and solanine intolerances, which can trigger chronic symptoms such as migraine headache, hives (urticaria), and flushing.

How We Can Help

Here at Buffalo Nutrition & Dietetics, our skilled registered dietitians will work with you to help identify any underlying causes for your food sensitivities and intolerances. We will look at dietary imbalances, gut health, underlying health conditions, genetics, lifestyle, and other factors that may be influencing and/or overtaxing your immune system. We will work with you and also your health care team to help identify and manage potential causes and symptoms of your allergies, sensitivities, and/or intolerances.

Our evaluation and treatment plan may include any of the following: