The word “healthy” paired with “diet” has always been a troubling combination of words for me. That’s because I believe that what is “healthy” for someone may be detrimental to another.
The conventional methods to determine food allergies include blood and skin prick testing. These types of tests look at IgE (or immediate hypersensitivity). An example of IgE mediated hypersensitivity is when a child has a reaction to peanuts, for instance, and must carry medicine, such as an EpiPen, to mitigate their reaction, should exposure occur.
In naturopathic medicine, I like to explore IgG (or delayed sensitivity) food allergy/sensitivity. IgG is an immunoglobulin produced by the body over time due to repeated exposure to allergens. That is the reason why symptoms of IgG mediated allergy are not always directly correlated with consumption of the particular food. For example, someone with a primary concern of constipation may not relate their symptoms to the corn or wheat they consumed days prior. By identifying food allergy, we can begin to uncover the root causes of concerns that may have vague symptoms or may be unresponsive to conventional treatments.
There are a number of ways to identify food allergy. One easy way is to do an elimination diet. With the elimination diet, major classes of common allergens are removed. Major categories are corn, wheat, soy, eggs, dairy, tomatoes, and citrus. After a diet devoid of these items, they are re-introduced in a systematic manner, looking for changes in signs or symptoms. This method obviously has potential for error, as there may be foods left in the diet that are actually problematic. A second way to identify food allergies is through blood testing. The panel I use and recommend tests for 154 foods and looks at the IgG reaction in the body. This test is great for those who wish to have black and white answers about what they may be sensitive to.
There are many areas for which a food sensitivity determination may be helpful: seasonal allergies, gastrointestinal concerns, infertility, fatigue, and skin conditions are just a few. One recent study at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that elimination of IgG sensitive foods helped study participants lose about one pound per week and improved body composition over 90 days.
My work as a naturopathic doctor is guided by finding the root cause of a concern. Nutrition is the foundation of our health and food allergy determination can assist in designing a customized diet that defines what “healthy” means for you.