How do I Find Out if I Have a Food Intolerance?
There is no reliable medical test to give evidence of a food intolerance yet there are millions who declare with incredible anecdotal evidence that they suffer from intolerance to foods. An intolerance to lactose in milk is a bit different in that the cause is known. An insufficient amount of the enzyme lactase is proven to cause lactose intolerance. The mechanism of action for every food intolerance is not known. Those with food allergies can be tested by various medical tests to prove an allergy.
The wonderful thing about our bodies is that they tell us most of the time when there is something wrong. Even though we may not be able to eloquently articulate to our medical care providers that there is something wrong, we still know. We live in our bodies and feel every cramp, experience every problematic bathroom moment, feel the constant fatigue, endure the headaches, and suffer with skin that is dry, cracked, flaky and irritated. We know that there is a cause to these things.
After years of eating and digesting we begin to establish that there is a pattern. We don’t usually keep a log of details, but we recognize patterns. Maybe we notice that every single food that has any part of an egg in it will make us sick to one degree or another. Once there is a conscious suspicion then resolution should be sought.
Begin resolution by abstinence from all instances of ingesting the suspected offending food for a few weeks. Pick only one suspected offender (the most likely first). If improvement is demonstrably measurable, then you have your answer.
Medical Testing for Food Allergies
A food allergy is medically testable since there is an involvement of the immune system while a food intolerance may still exist but have all negative test results. Allergy testing of immunoglobulins which are antibodies that may be found in the body is one example of allergy testing. There are different immunoglobulins and they are usually written as IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, and IgD with IgE levels being considered the most for people with allergies.
ALCAT testing is offered by a company called Cell Systems Corporation in Deerfield Beach, Florida. ALCAT is purported to test a person’s blood for reactions to over 350 food substances. As with other methods of this type there is a segment of those who say that it works and those who say it does not work. The testing at the time of this writing begins at $425.00.
Skin testing involves taking an amount of the suspected allergen and either scratching the skin with it, injecting a little bit just under the skin or applying a patch with the allergen on the skin. Testing such as scratch testing usually involves testing a bunch of common allergens on the skin at once. The medical personnel applying the allergens keep track of which allergen is put where on the skin. After anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours later the area where the allergens were placed is visually examined. Reactions to any of the allergens are determined by a medical professional.
Skin biopsies are performed when there are symptoms that are involving the skin. Most think that a biopsy would be for cancer, but there are other times that it is prudent as well. A skin biopsy is when a medical professional either shaves off a tiny section of skin, takes a tiny core sample of skin, or cuts out a small part of skin to assay by testing. The sample is tested for antibodies and is examined microscopically.
The elimination diet is non-invasive but requires the sufferer to one-hundred percent commit to the elimination of ingesting, or in the case of sever allergies even coming in contact with, the suspected allergen. Since processed foods contain so many ingredients, and since the Standard American Diet (SAD) contains so many processed foods, the elimination diet may be the hardest for the sufferer to endure.
Are Food Intolerance/Allergy Tests Always Accurate?
Absolutely not. Tests are designed to serve the largest segment of the human population. There are thresholds of allergens to consider. Just as there are infective doses to consider for viruses there are thresholds to consider with allergens. An infective dose of a virus is the generally accepted amount of a virus that it takes to get an average person sick. Notice that it is a general amount for an average person. For an allergy or intolerance there may be a certain amount of the allergen that is necessary that the sufferer be exposed to before symptoms manifest to the point that they are detected.
Testing for allergies on a person who is just intolerant will most often produce negative results. An uninformed sufferer who goes to a doctor for allergy testing may be told by the doctor that medical testing indicates that no such allergy exists for them. That would be because the immune system was not involved. However, just because there is no allergic response to a food does not mean that there is not an intolerance to a food.