It’s true; most of us have varying degrees of health problems caused by the foods we eat. Food allergies or intolerances can lead to many common symptoms and diseases, and surprisingly many foods we think of as healthy are culprits. Moreover, these foods are often ones we frequently eat.
When I say “allergies,” we think of the originally described hypersensitivity reaction that involves the “immediate” immune reaction, such as getting stung by a bee and noting immediate swelling and redness or eating something that causes immediate swelling in the throat or generalized itching. This reaction is mediated by an antibody called IgE and the release of histamine, which causes blood vessels to swell and leak, leading to the familiar symptoms such as hives or hayfever. Skin “prick” tests or serum RAST testing for allergies will test for this reaction.
In actuality there are three other immune reactions, one of which takes 12-72 hours to really get going after a trigger is encountered. The main antibody in this immune reaction is called IgG and it can be tested in a blood sample. We refer to these food allergies as “intolerances” or “sensitivities,” but this is semantics as they are in fact hypersensitivity reactions that stimulate an abnormal immune system response. I call them “delayed” food allergies.
The most common foods causing delayed food allergies are wheat, dairy, egg, corn, soy, sugar and yeast. One can simply eliminate these foods from their diet and see if they feel better. This is called an “elimination diet.” After a month or two of eliminating possible allergic foods, a “food challenge” is done by reintroducing the foods one at a time for several days to see if any symptoms return. Careful tracking of symptoms during the challenge phase is critical in sorting out which foods are really causing problems.
The Food Allergy Patient
My new patient was seeking help with obesity, trouble getting pregnant, irregular menstrual cycles, and numerous digestive issues. Suffering from such anxiety, she had not driven in many years, nor was she able to hold down steady work. We did food allergy testing and put her on supplements to heal the gut. Within six weeks she had lost 22 pounds and her gut symptoms were all better. Remarkably, even to me, her anxiety was gone — simply gone! A few months ago she called to get advice on something, “now that she was pregnant.”
The most common symptoms caused by delayed food allergies are brain fog, fatigue, nasal congestion, indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea, rashes and joint aches. We also see mood changes such as depression, anxiety, attention-deficit or hyperactivity. And yes, weight-gain can be related to food allergies.
The best way to determine if you have food allergies is to get a blood test for IgG antibodies to foods. But, don’t bother using just any lab for food allergy testing. At last count I have used 12 labs during two decades of doing food allergy testing and I’ve come to the conclusion that not all labs can do delayed food allergy testing.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars out of my pocket to do “blinded” testing of various labs and I’ve busted many with lack of reproducible results. I have tested with the same blood sent with one vial as the real patient’s blood and another as a “fake” patient and found the results quite different. The common labs that accept insurance do not do delayed food allergy testing well; I’ve tried dozens of times with each of them without clinical success.
My favorite lab for food allergy testing is Immunolabs (www.immunolabs.com). They have been doing only food allergy tests for over 35 years, are the most accurate, and their follow-up literature and technical help are unsurpassed. You can go online and take a symptom questionnaire to see if you might have food allergies. The lab cost is $250 for the basic 88-food panel, $400 for the 154-food panel, and we often add specific reflex tests for gluten allergy, celiac disease and yeast overgrowth.
Having provided food-allergy testing for over almost 20 years, I continue to be amazed at patient outcomes with the elimination of food allergens. In recent years we test three to four people each and every week, and I’d estimate 70-80 percent of all patients tested report positive results, with at least 20-30 percent reporting “amazing” results. For many it was the key to helping them lose weight, cure a chronic illness or markedly improve how they feel.
Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.