FOOD SENSITIVTY & ALLERGY TESTING
An estimated 30% of people have food sensitivities.
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What is the difference between food allergies & food sensitivities?
The short answer is that food allergies reflect an immediate reaction to ingesting a food (within seconds to 1 hour) whereas food sensitivities reflect a delayed reaction to a food (1 hour to days). Most people are aware of the foods they’re allergic to. Because of the time between ingesting the problematic food and experiencing a reaction, a food sensitivity may be less obvious and require more investigation.
What conditions are related to food sensitivities?
Too many to name! Autism/ADHD, Autoimmune Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Sinusitis, Crohn's disease, Digestive Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Headaches/Migraines, Heartburn/GERD, Irritable bowel syndrome, Joint Pain, Insomnia, Muscle Pain, Skin conditions, Weight Imbalances, Ulcerative Colitis
How are food sensitivities found?
The most common ways to identify food sensitivities are through trying a structured elimination/rotation diet or by doing a food sensitivity test that looks for immune reactions to a pre-determined list of foods.
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What types of food sensitivity tests are available? Which is best for me?
You and your healthcare provider can discuss which test is the best option for you. There are 4 main types of food sensitivity testing available: IgG, IgA, ALCAT, and MRT. Food Allergy testing measure levels of IgE antibodies to foods.
IgG testing measures the levels of IgG circulating in your blood that is produced in response to certain foods. The benefit with IgG testing is some delayed reactions to foods can be identified and the results are reproducible. The limitation is that with this test, only one mechanism of food sensitivity is being measured when there are others to consider. Also, with IgG testing, foods will only show up as "reactive" if you have eaten them recently, so sensitivities to foods that have not been part of your diet will not be detected.
MRT measures several immune related reactions to foods, IgG as well as other mechanisms. One of the advantages of the MRT test is that the blood is exposed to the foods, so they do not have to be eaten in order for a sensitivity to be detected. Some of the drawbacks of the test are the higher price point and fewer foods can be tested compared to the other tests available.
ALCAT measures release of inflammatory chemicals from one type of white blood cell called neutrophils. Some of the drawbacks of this test are reproducibility and sensitivity. Sometimes ALCAT test results can show too many sensitivities that would equate with following an overly restrictive diet. The test was invented by the same scientist that developed MRT, so MRT is considered the newer, improved version of ALCAT.
Does Insurance cover food sensitivity testing?
Insurance does not cover food sensitivity testing in the state of Illinois. However coverage can vary from state to state.
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