We offer allergy testing of 96 foods including all the main food allergens–wheat, gluten, eggs, soy, milk, cheese, nuts, tomatoes, citrus fruits, 24 herbs and 24 spices through US BioTek Laboratories. This test helps to determine specific food allergies, the level of allergic reaction–high or medium or low, and the appropriate diet to alleviate allergic symptoms.
As with any naturopathic consultation, we review your complete health history and can help determine if this testing is right for you. We also offer natural solutions for healing food allergies and food sensitivities.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is one type of adverse food reaction that is mediated by the immune system. An adverse food reaction may comprise any symptom following the intake of a food. Symptoms may be any perceptible change in how we feel and/or function.
A symptom may present, for example, as a rash, achy joints, or fatigue. Adverse food reactions are classified into three subgroups; toxic, psychological, and non-toxic reactions. A toxic food reaction is commonly known as food poisoning and is a result of contaminants in the food. Psychological reactions or food aversion is related to a former ill experience and is largely psychosomatic in nature. A non-toxic food reaction is further divided into immune- (i.e.: allergy), and non-immune-mediated groups. Non-immune-mediated reactions, or food intolerance, can mimic allergic inflammation and may occur from food additives, pharmacological compounds, or enzymatic deficiency (i.e.: lactose intolerance). Immune-mediated reactions, or food allergies, are divided into IgE- and non-IgE reactions. The latter involves antibodies other than IgE, immune complexes and cell-mediated events. Below is a simple diagram to put this into visual perspective as defined by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).
What is the difference between an IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated allergy?
An IgE-mediated allergy involves the production of IgE antibodies to certain foods or inhalant allergens. Symptoms usually occur immediately after exposure within 15 minutes. A late phase reaction may then occur 4-6 hours later and persist for days with increased edema and inflammation.
This classical reaction occurs when IgE antibodies, bound to specific immune cells (mast cells), recognize and bind to the allergen. This interaction triggers the release of chemical compounds, and histamine from the IgE-bound cell. These compounds cause much of the discomfort associated with allergy including stomach cramping, diarrhea, skin rash, swelling, and anaphylaxis. The allergen and resulting symptoms are unique to the individual affected.
Non-IgE-mediated allergies involve antibodies other than IgE (e.g.: IgG). Symptoms of an IgG-dependent reaction may occur hours to days following exposure to the allergen. When foods are involved, these reactions are often referred to as delayed food reactions. The IgG antibody may bind to the food antigen and form an immune complex. These complexes may deposit in various tissues and trigger inflammatory reactions.
What is an anaphylactic food reaction?
An anaphylactic reaction to an ingested food is a life-threatening condition that causes swelling and constriction of the airways. It is an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reaction and occurs immediately after the ingestion of the culpable food. This condition requires immediate medical attention. US BioTek antibody assessments do not identify anaphylaxis. Low allergen-IgE on a patient’s test report cannot justify secondary exposure to a food suspect of inducing anaphylaxis as it may prove fatal.
What is an allergen?
A food that causes an allergic reaction is known as a food allergen. An inhalant such as ragweed that causes allergic rhinitis is known as an inhalant allergen, or aeroallergen. Allergens are almost always proteins but not all proteins are allergens. Foods such as milk, chocolate, strawberries and wheat may be allergenic for some individuals but not all. Inhalants such as kitty dander and dust mites may also be allergenic for some and not all. Predisposing factors and symptoms may vary from person to person.
An inflammatory reaction is fundamental to an allergic response. The classic manifestations of an inflammatory reaction are to varying degrees:
- Redness – caused by dilation of blood vessels in the tissues.
- Heat– caused by increase in blood flow in the tissues.
- Swelling – caused by increased permeability of blood vessels in the tissues.
- Pain – caused by congestion in the tissues.
What promotes an allergy?
The underlying reasons for allergies vary from person to person. Possibilities may include loss of tolerance from stress, trauma or underlying disease, genetic predisposition, compromised microbial gut flora, and poor immune function.
How is an allergy identified?
Serum from a blood draw or whole blood from a finger stick may be used to measure immediate and delayed allergies respectively. US BioTek employs state of the art ELISA methodology for our FOODStats antibody assessments. ELISA stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. ELISA is a semi-quantitative screening tool for the detection of IgA, IgE and IgG antibodies in serum.
As an assurance of quality, US BioTek test performance is monitored through 3 internal controls and 2 negative blanking controls per assay run. All patient specimens are tested in complete duplicate. That is, each serum specimen is split to assure reproducibility in the results. We attest to reproducible and reliable results of each and every sample from day-to-day, and week-to-week through stringent in-house precision criteria. External proficiency testing, through the College of American Pathologists is carried out quarterly. Our goal is to take every measure to ensure a dependable and clinically relevant test.
Are there any food restrictions prior to testing?
No. It is advised to maintain usual dietary habits, consuming a variety of foods when possible. Prolonged dietary restrictions may show low serological values.
It is strongly advised to avoid any food that may have potentially resulted in a previous adverse reaction or anaphylaxis. Secondary exposure to these foods may prove fatal.
Are there any medication restrictions prior to testing?
Immunosuppressive drugs such as oral or intranasal corticosteroids (prednisone, beclomethasone, fluticasone, triamcinolone), and topical cortisone suspensions and creams, may affect test results. The suggested time period to abstain from these is 4 weeks. However, the dosage, route, half-life of medication, and duration of administration on systemic immune response, can vary on its effects. The practitioner must weigh in these variables with the current health status of the patient.
What is an allergic cross-reaction?
Cross-reactivity is an important consideration in allergy assessment. When the immune system mounts a response to a protein of similar moiety to a known allergen, adverse reactions may occur. This is especially evident between pollen, fruits and vegetables. Sensitivity to latex for example shows extensive cross-reactivity with certain foods, including banana, avocado and mango which may lead to clinical allergic reactions. Natural rubber latex is a common ingredient found in many products including balloons, appliance cords, hearing aids, swimwear, condoms, rubber bands, and medical and dental supplies such as masks, gloves, syringes, catheters and bandages.
What are withdrawal food reactions?
Some may believe that they are easily addicted to their delayed-reactive foods. As with any addiction when we avoid the trigger we may develop withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are those that make us feel lousy and may include throat congestion, stuffy nose, diarrhea, fatigue, irritability, headaches, malaise, and increased appetite. Withdrawal symptoms should not be confused with other possible disorders. Withdrawal symptoms attributed to a food reaction are transient in nature.
What are the suggested guidelines to the FOODStats antibody assessment?
Identification and elimination of highly reactive foods with the implementation of a rotation-style diversified diet under the guidance of the practitioner. Two simple measures that may have profound effects on one’s health.
What is a rotation-style diet?
A rotation diet involves alternating foods by food families (groups of foods that are biologically or botanically related). A 4-day rotation plan for example, alternates the food families based on a day 1 and 3, or day 2 and 4 cycle. The idea behind rotation-style eating is not to consume the same food more than once every four days and no foods of the same family more than once every two days. Foods may be moved through days 1 to 4 as long as members of the same family are not consumed on consecutive days, and any particular food is not consumed more than once every four days. Rotation-style eating is designed to encourage diversification of the diet and prevent the development of food sensitivities from repetitive intake. Other yet similar schedules may involve a 7-day plan and/or limit any particular food family to one day of the rotation cycle vs. two.
What are the age restrictions for testing?
There is no under age limit. US BioTek’s antibody assays are suitable for 6 months of age and older. Our food-specific IgA panel is not suitable for breast-fed infants.
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