Food Allergy Testing: An Integrative Medicine Approach
Learn how integrative medicine experts approach food allergy testing. Our expert explains.
Contributor: Christine Spiroch, PhD, PA-C, Integrative Medicine Specialist
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In Integrative Medicine consults, we frequently see patients who want to be evaluated for food allergies. Their symptoms often involve the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. However, immune, musculoskeletal and respiratory symptoms are also common.
If the symptoms are predominantly gastrointestinal, we may recommend analysis of stool or urine samples in addition to blood tests. Stool and urine testing can help to identify three problems:
Urine testing can help to identify an important condition known as “leaky gut syndrome.” Damage to the intestinal wall in leaky gut syndrome leads to increased absorption of toxins. Leaky gut is a common cause of many food allergies.
Bacterial overgrowth and/or leaky gut can cause food allergies to appear more serious than they really are. In other words, what you assume to be a food allergy may actually indicate a problem with digestion, or bacteria or yeast overgrowth.
Two kinds of reactions to food
There are two types of food allergy reactions: immediate and delayed.
Testing reveals the source of the problem
Food allergy testing usually involves the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) blood test to identify antibodies to proteins in gluten (gliadins) and dairy (casein). Blood testing can also identify genetic markers for celiac disease, also called autoimmune gluten sensitivity.
The Center for Integrative Medicine sometimes uses kinesiology, or muscle testing, to help identify food reactions.
Blood test results are a starting point and guide to identifying — and then eliminating — foods that are potentially “toxic” to a body.
Because food allergy testing may be costly, an elimination diet may be recommended for some people instead. This serves the purpose of finding out which foods trigger symptoms.