The topic of food intolerance has become very popular in the last decade. You can see all the changes around you: more gluten free menus in restaurants, more dairy-free products in your neighborhood grocery store, and friend’s chronic acid reflux resolves when she eliminates corn from her diet…etc. I agree that for those who suffer from chronic conditions and are not responding to treatments, it is important to consider food sensitivity as a potential cause, but the challenge that many of my patients face is that it is just so confusing. Sometimes they react to the foods, and sometimes they don’t. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent pattern. Therefore, a quest to have a food sensitivity test done is born.
Find a food sensitivity test that is right for you.
The food sensitivity leads to another series of confusion, because there are quite a few options out there. There are some that measure antibodies (IgG, IgE, or IgA) elevation, and there are some that measure the changes of your white blood cells to foods. Whether one is more accurate than the other is a lifelong debate in the medical community. The take-home message here is that food can elicit many different responses in your body. The test itself is only investigating one of the responses. It is not a definitive diagnosis but rather to demonstrate the likelihood of a food causing problems. If you score high with certain foods, it just means that it is more likely that you react to this food compared to the ones with low scores. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you 100% react to this food or react severely. There is the option of doing all the tests that are available under the sun, and that can confirm the likelihood of the sensitivity, but that is costly.
The Elimination and Re-Challenge Diet
My personal favorite is the elimination and re-challenge diet. The concept of this diet is to see if your symptoms improve when you eliminate all suspected foods from your diet, and also to see if your symptoms return when you introduce these foods back. What I like about this diet is that it tests ALL potential pathways that can trigger a reaction, and it’s free! What it requires is the patient’s willingness to start this adventure and the determination to stick with this process to the end.
Careful planning and execution is key to making this diet manageable and successful. Many of my patients have told me that they have done the elimination and re-challenge diet of certain foods and don’t see results. When we start reviewing the process, the problem is often that it isn’t done correctly. If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity, please seek out experienced doctors to guide you through the elimination and re-challenge diet. It is indeed a challenging process, so you want to make sure that you do it right the first time.