Some of you may have watched the CBC Marketplace segment on food sensitivities. The whole episode speaks to the high expense and supposed inaccuracy of the test going so far as to say it may cause death. We know that the media is made to sensationalize and exaggerate things greatly to increase viewership, so here is my take on it.
There must be a distinguishment made between an IgE allergy and an IgG food sensitivity. An IgE allergy is what we classically see as a nut, seafood or bee sting allergy for example, where there is an immediate reaction like swelling. Most of the medical community very much believes in only IgE type allergies. Only if you are celiac, lactose intolerant or have an anaphylactic reaction to a food, do they recommend avoiding. If you do not fall into these categories, you are very rarely recommended to avoid any foods at all. I often hear from my patients who suffer from digestive disorders like IBS or IBD and have seen gastroenterologists who do not recommend avoiding any foods at all and in fact even go as far to suggest that their symptoms have nothing to do with the type of food they eat at all!
An elevation in IgG antibodies to a particular food can indicate a sensitivity to that food; it does not mean a tolerance. For many, it can be quite challenging to do a full elimination diet, and so having such a test done can give you a guideline of which foods to eliminate in order to see if you feel any different. For the majority of my patients who eliminate the foods they are sensitive to, they notice a significant improvement in their health. Anywhere from improved digestion, more energy, less pain, more focus, clearer skin, less asthma, improved immune system and better hormonal balance.
There is a reason this food sensitivity test is ordered through a naturopathic doctor (ND). An ND will determine if the test is appropriate the patient. If someone has an eating disorder or is prone to severe anxiety, eliminating foods from the diet may not be the best first line of action. Changing your diet is never easy to do, whether you do a food sensitivity test or not. It involves a lot of planning to do it properly. But if you can do it (without losing your shirt lol), you will most likely notice an improvement in your health. It may take a month, but it may also take 6 months. Some foods such as refined grains, sugar and dairy do not have any long-term consequences by not consuming them. In fact, dairy consumption has been linked to an increase risk of bone fracture.
In the Marketplace article they do not clarify why they feel the research is “problematic”. They also do not show how the reporter feels by doing the elimination challenge (which she obviously doesn't do). I also find it very hard to believe that the test can lead to death. The diet should be monitored by a licensed health practitioner that has extensive nutrition training. Every diet is unique, and I always make sure that it is balanced with good fats, carbohydrates and protein while being packed with vitamins and minerals. Please consult a licensed health care provider before doing this test.
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