Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Allergy testing

People wonder at times why I tell them to run elimination diets. Some people have told me, "But I've been tested. I'm not allergic."

Well, here's the thing. Allergy tests are not perfect. There are also several types of allergy tests.

The most common type of allergy test is the IgE test. The IgE test tells your doctor if you are allergic to something. By allergic, I mean that it looks for foods that, when eaten, will cause an anaphylactic reaction that will kill you.

That is what the IgE test will show.

There are a couple of ways of doing the IgE. One is by skin prick testing and another way is by a blood test. Either one will show if you will swell up and die if you eat peanuts, for example. Because these types of reactions are severe, your insurance will cover IgE testing, but not food intolerance tests (IgG testing, which I'll talk about a little bit later).

So my doctor tested me, and I came up undetectable on absolutely everything, except for cats, on which I scored moderately allergic.

My son was also tested for allergies a year ago and scored a big fat zero on everything as well.

My doctor said I should make sure my cat doesn't sleep with me. Well, see, my cat is getting older and thinks I'm his mom, so at night he's permanently attached to my hip. And if I try to keep him out of the bedroom, he will scratch and claw and yowl in order to get to me.

Zack puts the "Duh" in Devoted

Now, you know from reading my journal that I was reacting strongly to gluten. In fact, pretty much all of my out of control inflammation was tied to food. So why doesn't it show up on an IgE test?

Because...an intolerance is not an allergy.

I can't stress this enough, people. You can be very intolerant to a food, and not allergic to it in the slightest. If I eat gluten, I will not die. But I will probably have an arthritis flare.

So, that's the cool thing about SCD. Not only does it promote healing of your digestive system, but if you use the approach at the Pecanbread web site and introduce foods slowly, you get the best of both worlds. It's an elimination diet, at heart.

The only criticism I have of the initial foods in the Pecanbread protocol (meats and eggs) is that certain people will be intolerant to those initial foods as well. So you may want to try something a little different for the initial diet. Instead of doing chicken, eggs, and beef, I'd suggest wild salmon (only wild!) and/or cod fish, along with the cooked carrots for a less allergenic intro diet.

I'd do the wild salmon/cod fish and cooked carrots for at least three to four days. The next thing I'd add would be the cooked green beans and cooked squash. After a week, I'd start introducing some of the other foods and gauge how I feel. Stick to four days between each food. I introduced eggs later and seemed fine, but I wasn't sure, so I was glad I waited.

The other type of testing you can do is IgG testing. This type of testing will show delayed reactions to food -- intolerances that show up within 2-4 days. It's not totally accurate, but it's pretty good. Keep in mind that IgG testing only works if you are eating the foods in question, so if you are doing an elimination diet, you should wait until you've introduced all the foods you think you might be having problems eating.

My doctor said I would have to pay for IgG testing, because insurance doesn't cover it, or, if I'm not so worried about real numbers, then I could do...an elimination diet. And I'm already doing that with SCD.

No two people are the same, so when you try a true elimination diet, you will be able to pinpoint foods that you personally have a problem with. And at the same time, you will be able to promote healing. Many times, intolerances can be corrected after healing has taken place and good probiotics have been introduced.

Now in the future, if I'm still not sure about some foods after introducing absolutely everything, I can choose to do the IgG test, and I might. But for now, this is more than adequate.

It's no good to just remove a food group and see what happens, because you may have multiple intolerances. So if you have a problem with beef, eggs, and peanuts, and you cut out just eggs, you will still be having a problem with beef and peanuts, but you'll never know unless you cut them ALL out.

The other thing my doctor wanted me to do was to start probiotics. I showed her some of the pages from the Breaking the Vicious Cycle web site, that explains all of the awesome probiotics that are in the yogurt that Elaine recommends you make at home, which has about 700 billion probiotic thingies per cup. My doctor was suitably impressed and said, "If these amounts of probiotics are accurate, then yeah, it looks good."

So, I will be continuing according to plan. Once I get paid this Friday, I'm going to order some Progurt starter, and get going on some goat milk yogurt for both of us. Yay!

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