There are a lot of people who are eating foods they are allergic to and they don’t even realize it. Over 90% of people are often eating something that is causing harm to their body and it could even be something healthy like kale. Because there is so much misunderstanding around food allergies, there is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of allergies that are being missed. Let’s clear up some of the misinformation by starting with our list of 7 things most people don’t know about food allergies and testing.

1 – Food “Sensitivities” are Food Allergies

A food allergy is a hypersensitivity to food, whether it is an IgE response or the lessor known IgG response. Most people are familiar with the IgE food allergies that can result in anaphylaxis. These IgE allergies represent the response of only 1% of the immune system. Many individuals have food allergies they don’t know about because there is another often overlooked immune response, and that’s the IgG allergy that accounts for 70% of your immune system’s response.

These food allergies are often overlooked because they aren’t tested for and because the response is often delayed. Clinical trials have shown that removing foods that cause an IgG response can reduce migraines and headaches. (1) (2) Studies have also shown that eliminating foods from the diet that cause an IgG response can improve symptoms of IBS. (3) (4) (5) That’s not all! These food allergies cause inflammation that can leave with you a variety of symptoms like acne, eczema, fatigue, bloating, anxiety and many digestive issues.

These food allergies can also lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a common factor in illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and many other chronic diseases. Understanding food allergies and testing is critical to your health right now and in the future.

Understanding food allergies and intolerances

  • IgE Food Allergy Reaction is immediate and often severe such as an anaphylactic reaction.
  • IgG Food Allergy Reaction is often delayed and therefore hard to diagnose. Can cause a variety of symptoms and lead to chronic inflammation if not diagnosed. These are often mistakenly called food sensitivities.
  • Food intolerances aren’t identified by the food allergy tests. This is when the body can’t properly digest the food. For example, lactose intolerance is when an individual lacks the enzyme to break down lactose. You can still have an intolerance even if the food isn’t on your allergy test.

2 – Not All Food Allergy Tests Are Created Equal

How do you find the best food allergy test? Many people will make the decision for testing based on cost. That could be what tests are covered by insurance or what test is on sale. Testing is so important because you can’t avoid a toxic food if you don’t know it’s toxic to you. So, you want to get these tests right!  Just because you have had your food allergies tested doesn’t mean they have been properly tested. As we know, many don’t test for the IgG response as it is not considered a standard of care. They just test for the IGE response which, as we talked about earlier, only tests for 1% of the immune response. That’s why it’s important to also test for IgG.

Not all IgG tests are equal either. It might be easier to choose a test based on what’s on sale through Groupon, but you won’t get the same results. An IgG response is actually split out into 4 classes and most IgG, or “food sensitivity,” tests only test for one. To get accurate results we recommend a food allergy test that tests all 4 classes and gets duplicatable results. If you have already been tested, you should still follow those results but it is recommended that you retest or discuss your test with a proficient provider. It’s important to look at the science behind the tests when there are so many options out there.

3 – A Lower Reactive Score Doesn’t Mean That Food is Okay Sometimes

Can I eat food allergies with a lower reactive score? Well you can eat the food sometimes, but your body won’t be able to heal as well. When you get your test results there will be a range of scores next to the foods you are reactive to. You might think that if you only have a +1, that food is okay in comparison to a +4, but that’s not the case. That’s the level of antibodies in your blood serum.

When your body finds something that doesn’t belong there it develops antibodies in response to that exposure. Those antibodies are then in your blood to go out and look for those foreign invaders, or antigens. A lower reactive score just means there are fewer antibodies, not that there is a lower reaction to the antigens. You will still have a reaction, but it might just be a longer delay because there are fewer antibodies looking for that antigen.

4 – You Can Be Allergic to Something You’ve Never Eaten

Many patients are surprised to see foods they have never eaten on their food allergy test results. It’s common for them to ask, “why am I allergic to this food I’ve never had?” The body is responding to the protein in the food. Do you know anyone allergic to dogs or cats? Do you assume they have eaten a dog or cat? No! Consider yourself lucky that you don’t eat that food on your list. It won’t be as hard to give up as chocolate or coffee!

5 – You Should Get Tested If You are Experiencing Unexplained Symptoms

Do you have unexplained symptoms that you don’t know the cause of? Food allergies cause inflammation that can lead to a variety of symptoms. They can be hard to track because of the delayed response, so a headache you are experiencing now could be from something you ate 3 days earlier. That makes getting to the bottom of your food allergies very difficult. The easiest way to make sure that you are eliminating the correct foods and get relief to your symptoms is to take a food allergy test.

6 – You Should Get Tested Even if You Don’t Feel Sick

You might think you are very healthy but still have much inflammation that is lowering your quality of life. Just because there are no obvious symptoms doesn’t mean you are necessarily living your best life. Inflammation may have come on slowly from a healthy food you eat regularly, like lettuce. If you are allergic to lettuce but have a salad everyday it could be decreasing your energy level or making you feel less than great so consistently that it becomes your new normal.

7 – Not All Allergies are Forever

Don’t get discouraged if you see a long list of foods you are allergic to. When you retest a year later some of those foods might not be on the list. Your food allergies change because your immune systems changes. Your immune system is always adapting to your environment and what you put in it. It is recommended that you take an allergy test yearly to see what foods your body is reacting to. If you follow your list and heal your body, you might find that some of those foods come off of your list. In the meantime check out some of our allergy-friendly recipes and the best app for cooking with allergies.

Now You Know More About Food Allergies and Testing Than Most People

It’s important to understand food allergies and testing! 9 out of ten people are unknowingly eating foods that cause them harm. You can get to the bottom of your unexplained symptoms and what has caused your food allergies by getting properly tested and finding a provider that can help. Knowing about food allergies can help you understand your individual body. We all aren’t the same and that’s why some of us get sick even if we are eating healthy foods. A healthy diet for one person might be an unhealthy diet that causes inflammation and damage in another. Find out for yourself!

For more information check out Dr. Patrick Flynn’s video on food allergies.