Testing for Food Sensitivities

There are several ways to test for food sensitivities all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Ideally testing for these reactions should keep this in mind and suit the type of testing to each specific patient.

Understanding why different types of testing may be appropriate in different patients requires a little background. Under the general heading “allergy” there are actually 3 types of reactions: True allergy, inflammatory sensitivities, antibody sensitivities. This confusing pattern originates from the fact that only true allergies were recognized several decades ago. These are noticeable causing fairly rapid onset and pronounced symptoms such as peanut allergy. In the past decade slower onset reactions have been appreciated and are termed sensitivities.

Perhaps the first sensitivity to be more broadly understood and recognized has been gluten sensitivity. This is typically a slower evolving immune reaction that triggers an inflammatory and IgA/IgG antibody response. If the antibodies that are made against gluten eventually trigger cross reactivity where these antibodies begin destroying an enzyme in the small intestinal lining, celiac disease develops. For many years gluten sensitivity was thought to be just celiac disease. It is now well understood that many other manifestations of gluten sensitivity are common in the absence of celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is thought to be 6-8 times more common than celiac disease.

Gluten sensitivity without celiac disease most commonly presents as a functional disturbance of the digestive tract such as IBS, chronic diarrhea or reflux. The immune reaction, however, will often affect areas outside of the digestive tract especially the skin, joints and the nervous system/brain. A more detailed explanation of the common symptoms is detailed here.

Gluten sensitivity is the most studied food sensitivity but by no means is the only food to cause these reactions. Some persons will exhibit one specific sensitivity, while others may have 2 or 3. The essence of good treatment is to find the specific sensitivities in each patient. A common problem encountered is a secondary injury to the lining of the small intestine where the fibrous junctions between small intestinal cells become injured by the inflammation caused by the primary food sensitivity. These fibrous junctions prevent food peptides and other larger molecules that the immune system may react to from entering the deeper immune layer of the wall.

Once a primary food sensitivity induces leaky gut reactions to several foods will occur simply because they are allowed to enter the immune layer in a poorly digested form. Typically, food sensitivity testing will reveal very large numbers of foods that are reactive. The blood antibody test below reveals reactions to more than 80% of the tested foods which is typical of leaky gut.

These patients often avoid what the initial testing reveals and improve for a period of time only to have symptoms begin again from secondary reactions to the newer foods that they are now eating. The important objective is to identify the likely primary food sensitivity, remove that completely from the diet and get on a program of gut barrier repair.

The primary reactions are often suggested by the degree of the reactions seen on any given type of testing. As can be seen on the test above the antibody levels are much higher to gluten, rye (a gluten containing grain) and to whey/dairy.

Different food sensitivities require different methods of testing to substantiate. If an antibody response is present, it can be measured with blood tests. However, a significant number of persons will only get a symptomatic inflammatory response which cannot be seen with blood testing. Reactivity testing such as Biomeridian testing is the better method to evaluate this group. Biomeridian testing measures electrical conductivity in meridian points that reflect all of the body’s various systems and tissues. Meridians are the body’s energy pathways on which acupuncture points are found.

The Biomeridian test measures meridian point electromagnetic energy by trying to force a microcurrent through the point and measuring the amount transmitted. The energy at the point resists the flow through it. A meridian point reflecting a healthy body system has a very specific resistance. Imbalance or stress in that system tends to alter the meridian resistance affecting the Biomeridian reading.

Below is a Biomeridian analysis showing the balanced points in green and the imbalanced points in red. The findings are correlated with history and other testing to help arrive at an accurate assessment of what the problem may be and what factors may be triggering them.

Biomeridian testing can also be used to test response to proposed therapies such as specific nutrients or herbs by retesting imbalanced points to see if they strengthen in response. It also can be used to find causes of specific problems such as in food sensitivities by testing which ones cause a meridian to go out of balance. As seen below.

Food sensitivities are common and seem to be increasing. This is related to changes in eating patterns, food processing, and other factors such as the heavy load of environmental toxins with which the immune system must deal.  Fortunately testing can now accurately isolate these reactions and lead to a focused and effective treatment for the broad range of symptoms that food sensitivities may induce.

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