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Food Sensitivity Testing

The #1 most common question I get asked by new patients is “Do you do food sensitivity testing?”

Food sensitivities and food sensitivity testing has become a hot (and hotly debated) topic. Patients are interested in this type of testing because they often notice that foods seem to impact symptoms they’re experiencing yet they’re having trouble clearly or completely identify the offending foods.

It’s tough to determine which foods are causing you grief because we’re typically eating mixed meals, which may be processed, and they’re often consumed outside of the home (so we’re not exactly sure what’s in everything anyways). Plus reactions are often delayed…so you could be reacting to something you ate yesterday vs. breakfast this morning.

There are 2 ways to identify foods that you are currently sensitive to: elimination diet and reintroduction period OR IgG food sensitivity blood test.

Elimination Diet

Elimination diets are great. They’re the gold standard when it comes to identifying food sensitivities and I highly recommend that every single person tries this at least once in their lives. You essentially remove a whole bunch of potentially triggering foods from your diet (e.x. gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, etc.) for a period of 3-4 weeks and then you slowly re-introduce those foods (one food group at a time) every 3 days, and monitor for symptoms. If you notice a reaction to any of the foods you re-introduce, then you take it out of your diet and wait for your symptoms to get better before you continue with the reintroduction. If you don’t notice a reaction then you can assume the food is “safe” and include it in your regular diet.

Sometimes it takes longer than 3-4 weeks of avoiding the offending food in order to calm all of your symptoms down in the first place. So depending on the case – what we know about the connection between food sensitivities and your condition (ie. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Endometriosis) I may recommend that we avoid particular foods for longer periods of time.

Now, often when I tell patients how an elimination diet works, they tell me they can’t do it (too much work, not the right timing, their family won’t support them, etc.). While I do believe that this is an important act of self-care and that we need to prioritize our time appropriately, sometimes it’s just not going to work with our lifestyle. For those patients, we have food sensitivity testing.

What is food sensitivity testing?

A food sensitivity test is a blood test used to identify foods your body is reacting to. It tests your body’s immune response to approximately 120-200+ foods (depending on how comprehensive the test is).

 

What are food sensitivities?

Food sensitivities are a delayed reaction to specific foods in your diet. They can cause uncomfortable and sometimes harmful symptoms.

 

In a food sensitivity reaction, complexes form between the offending food and our immune cells (IgG cells). These complexes travel through our blood stream and land in various tissues, creating centres of inflammation wherever they end up. Food sensitivities become a problem when inflammation mounts faster than we can get rid of it. Especially if we are continuously re-exposed to the foods that our body is reacting to.

 

How inflammation expresses itself varies depending on the person. And it’s precisely why this particular type of food reaction has been linked to all kinds of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Because the onset of these reactions are delayed it can make self-diagnosis super challenging.

Results can be surprising as any number of foods in your diet could be responsible for your symptoms.

 

SAMPLE TEST RESULT (excerpt)


I have successfully treated many patients with food sensitivities. Their symptoms have ranged from chronic coughs to eczema to migraines to menstrual cramps. And I haven’t even mentioned anything that has to do with digestion! Digestive issues are the biggest indication for food sensitivity testing. If you have ever been diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), you need a food sensitivity test!

 

Read more about food sensitivity science and facts here. Many people talk about food sensitivity testing being “unscientific” and that’s just not true. There is quite a bit of scientific literature to support the use of this type of test.

 

Health conditions that may be linked to food sensitivities

  • Anything digestion related (Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, nausea, bloating)
  • Skin conditions that include rashes like eczema or psoriasis
  • Behavioural problems
  • Bronchitis and asthma symptoms
  • Joint pain
  • Migraines
  • Weight loss resistance (try and try but the weight just doesn’t come off)
  • Immune conditions
  • Menstrual pain

Does OHIP cover food sensitivity testing?

No. OHIP does not cover food sensitivity testing. Extended health benefit plans will sometimes cover all or part of the cost. Otherwise, it is an out of pocket expense.

Should I get tested for food sensitivities?

Patients experience immense symptom relief and health optimization when reactive foods are removed from the diet.

If you experience any of the symptoms or conditions I listed above, I definitely recommend food sensitivity testing.

If you’ve ever felt like your symptoms are linked to something in your diet, but you can’t put your finger on what, then I also recommend food sensitivity testing.

Food sensitivity FACT SHEET

Call Core Focus Health (416 214 0100) to book a visit with Dr. Natalie and have your food sensitivities tested!

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