Let's talk food testing while we ignore my pronunciation of "immunoglobulin".
Give me 7 minutes and I’ll save you roughly $400.00!
(HOW’S THAT FOR CLICKBAIT)
One of my least favourite things is having to explain that their fancy, expensive food intolerance* test isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. And yes I’m aware I’ve just given away the gist of the podcast but a.) I don’t care, just as long as you don’t get a test and b.) why not go have a listen so you understand the ins and outs and don’t just take my word for it?
*not food allergy, that’s different and legitimate*
Hey guys. Welcome back to the Bite Me Podcast. Today, I'm going to be talking about food allergy and food sensitivity tests and I'll give you a bit of a background on each and hopefully give you the knowledge that you need to decide whether these are things that are of relevance to you, whether these are things that you should investigate, or whether these are things that are probably best left alone. So, let's go through a food allergy test first. A food allergy test, tests for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies in response to a specific food or a specific compound. What that means is they bring you into contact with something that they think you might be allergic to. Let's use peanuts as an example, and then they test to see whether your body creates IgE, immunoglobulin E antibodies in response. Basically an antibody is a large protein that your immune system makes to deal with outside stuff and in the case of an allergic reaction, it makes a ton of it and it basically, it overreacts. It perceives this thing as a threat and it makes lots and lots of these IgE proteins. The good news in this situation is we can test for these IgE proteins and so if we find these IgE proteins in response to coming into contact with a food, or any other compound, then we can be confident that you are probably a allergic to that thing. Allergic reactions are very sudden. They can be quite dramatic. Think about anaphylactic shock in relation to say like shellfish or peanut allergies or something. And so going to get a food allergy test is a very legitimate thing to do. In saying that you, if you have a food allergy and you're a little bit older, you probably are already aware of it. They're not something subtle. They're quite obvious. A food sensitivity test is a little bit different. It doesn't test for immunoglobulin E antibodies, IGE antibodies. It tests for immunoglobulin G antibodies or IgG. I'm going to try and not say immunoglobulin again because I definitely am going to stuff it up. So, an IgG antibody is made when you come into contact with an outside compound. That's it. So anytime you come into contact with any kind of food, because that's always outside, whether it's dust or pollen or any other outside compound, your body will make these IgG antibodies. And for that reason, they're generally referred to as memory antibodies. So if we test and we find IgG antibodies running around your system, all that really means is you've come into contact with that thing before. So, if you have eaten that food before, particularly if you regularly eat that food, there's a very, very, very high likelihood that you are going to test positive for these IgG antibodies related to that food. It's going to show up as a sensitivity to that food. Hopefully you can see the problem here. That's not helping. That's more just telling us that, yeah, this is a food that you eat very regularly. It in no way represents that you are sensitive or intolerant to that food. Unfortunately for almost every food, there's not a validated intolerance test. We can't take some blood or take some stool and check to see if you are intolerant to that food. The best way to test for an intolerance, unfortunately, is a bit of trial and error, trying some changes in your diet, and then comparing that with a food and symptom diary, generally working through that with a healthcare professional. It's not a matter of going, getting a blood test, and checking for these IgG antibodies, these memory antibodies. Unfortunately what tends to happen in the case of a food sensitivity test is it comes back with a long, long list of foods that you are sensitive to and often these are foods that you just include in your diet regularly. There's no... It's not a validated test. It doesn't give us what we would say are validated or accurate answers. Unfortunately, this generally response in quite a restrictive diet, you then believe you can't eat all of these foods that you've been told you are sensitive to. It results in unnecessary elimination of foods and you know what? It's also really, really expensive. I guess if it was really, really expensive and it worked, there might be a case for it, but it doesn't. So, I would strongly recommend in this situation, that you save your money. So in terms of do they work? Now, the thing is they can sometimes inadvertently identify a food that you are intolerant of and this is kind of a case of a broken clock is right twice a day. If you are struggling with a food intolerance, you haven't been able to identify what that is, that's probably going to encourage you to go and get a food sensitivity test. So you go along. You get a food sensitivity test. It tells you that you are sensitive or intolerant of these 12 foods and there's a pretty high chance that one of those foods is going to be a true intolerance, so you cut it out and you feel like, "Oh yeah. I'm really glad I got this test. It made a positive difference." You've just, unfortunately also cut out 11 other foods that you didn't need to cut out and in fact, by removing them, you've eating a more restrictive diet and that has its own problems. So, instead of going along and getting a food sensitivity test, please save your money. Put that towards going to see a GP or a dietician who can work through your food intolerances, can work through your responses to certain foods, trial some removal of foods, trial... There's lots and lots of different strategies you can do, but I would not recommend the strategy of a food sensitivity test. So hopefully that all made sense. If it didn't, make sure you shoot me an email or a message or something, so we can chat further about it. But thanks for listening and I'll catch you next time.