Many years ago I took a well known test called The ALCAT test. I also worked with the company a few years back. You can read a little bit more about my journey from gluten free to paleo in this post here. Many people do not understand what this important test is about, so I think it is best to simply explain it so you can be a bit more informed when someone mentions it or any other allergy test.
First of all, when you have a reaction to something it is either immediate or delayed. It can be food or environmental. Many of us can relate to this. For example sometimes we get an immediate stomachache after eating at a restaurant or sometimes we wake, go to work and mid-day we have to head home as we have a “delayed” reaction. The delayed reaction can even be days later, which adds some mystery to the picture.
Most test for some type of reaction. Tests are either delayed (at some time after) or immediate. I must note we are not speaking about autoimmune tests in this article. Let me explain a bit more in detail, yet in an easy to understand way so you can comprehend this:
When you think food allergy, you may think of eating something that may suddenly cause a response that sends someone to the hospital. This type of reaction is a true food allergy, an IgE response and is classified as a hypersensitive severe immune reaction that may affect the respiratory tract or circulatory system. These food allergies are very serious. We know many of these just from severe children’s allergies. Many common IgE allergies are nut and shellfish related. An allergy is a classic immediate reaction of itching, swelling, and, with increasing frequency, anaphylactic shock. This is where the term Allergy Friendly cropped up.
Now as I mentioned above there are “delayed” reactions, up to a 72 hour delay. So, let’s discuss this now. A delayed food allergy is technically a food intolerance, an IgG response, which refers to the IgG antibody, which just so happens to be the largest circulating antibody in your system. Pretty amazing, right?
So you eat a “delayed reactive food” and the IgG antibody marks certain food particles as antigens (a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies), and when you eat these foods, the body then goes into an inflammatory immune response and attack. Intolerance can also refer to the lack of an enzyme, which impairs digestion.
IgG intolerances and sensitivity symptoms include the following:
- gas, bloating
- hay fever symptoms (itchy, watery eyes, sneezing)
- brain fog
- joint pain
- IBS or Crohn’s
Once it’s determined that one has an intolerance or sensitivity to a food(s), by then avoiding those foods, one may lose weight, heal leaky gut syndrome, improve IBS or Crohn’s, heal eczema, and just plain feel a heck of a lot better. I posted earlier about my friend Jennifer, so you can get an idea of exactly what a change in diet can do for someone!
One can be tested for food, known environmental toxins, environmental organic materials, etc. You name it; it really can be tested in your body and mine.
How do you know if you are getting a delayed or immediate reaction tested when you are given your results? YOU NEED TO ASK! If you are only told, “Hey Joe, you are showing high levels of this stuff (concentration of an analyte – usually antibodies or antigens) in your body, so you need to stay off beef, apples and asparagus for 6 months and then come back and let’s re-test and keep me informed on how you are doing.” Well that is all fine and dandy, but what if the test was only for immediate reactions? What about the other thing(s) wreaking havoc in your body and making your life a bit chaotic, that are causing DELAYED reactions? Well, you may become rather discouraged about this ONE test as you may still be feeling the effects from the DELAYED. As you can see the reverse can easily happen too. If delayed reactions are only being tested for, then you may miss the immediate onset that drives you batty.
So back to ALCAT. ALCAT can test for certain foods as an immediate reaction yet the main large food panel is delayed reaction. You need to ask questions and be sure you are paying for tests that suit your needs and will answer your questions. Sometimes more than one test will help narrow down (and be needed) what you are hoping to address. Maybe not just with ALCAT, but with another or other companies.
In the end it really comes down to a very open communication with your doctor or health practitioner; getting your questions fully answered and this person being extremely knowledgeable about the many test options and your health and well-being as their main concern. They should have a sincere drive (with proven results in patients and long stable tenure) for being in the business of helping others.
I must share and admit that testing is not the end all and not always accurate. I know others who do TERRIBLE with kale for example yet their test showed nothing at all and they say, “all is fine”. The person knows that kale is not good and they get terrible reactions. So, how do we explain that?
Again, tests are just that – tests. So in the end, the gut feeling, and one’s own perception of one’s own body is a terrific guide to the diet that is right for us. A food allergy elimination diet may be more accurate (and a lot cheaper) than food allergy testing. You can simply avoid the foods you think are problematic (for a full month!), then reintroduce them one at a time after a month. If you react to a certain food, you may have intolerances or you may not digest that food well, so avoid it for six months and try again. The most common “bad guys” are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, and nightshades. I know very few who thrive on all of them. It seems like this list alone is a good starting point for many who may be a bit confused. My Paleo Food List is also very helpful. I have many recipes that are great for an allergy elimination diet too like my Paleo Chuck Roast or my easy Paleo Chicken Salad.
The elimination-rechallenge diet has been called the gold standard of food sensitivity testing and much more effective than laboratory testing by itself, even by many health practitioners.
I hope this was helpful. If any questions please do not hesitate to ask.