Allergy & Food Sensitivity Testing at ENVC

Food allergies and food sensitivities can affect anyone at various stages of life and after differing illnesses and post antibiotic use.

 

At Evolve Naturopathic Vitality Centre, we offer a selection of food allergy, food sensitivity and food intolerance panels to determine the specific offending agents that trigger an immune response. The specific panels can test a vast and extensive array of food specific allergens including over 300 types of foods, food chemicals, food additives, preservatives, moulds and herbs to assess for degrees of system reactivity.

Unlike other medical tests, there is no direct expose to the offending agents; instead, your blood sample is used to assess reactivity so you will not endure the pain of standard arm prick tests. Tests are performed either via blood draw or finger prick tests and are safe for people of all ages, including children. 

The process of determining the most appropriate test can be complex. We encourage you to read the links below for more information on determining the type of allergenic food reaction, food sensitivity or intolerance that match you. A thorough assessment is required to make the proper differential diagnosis and to ascertain which test is best suited.


Allergen & Sensitivity Tests Offered

We offer the following tests:


Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity vs. Food Intolerance

Food Allergy

This is a direct histamine, antibody-antigen complex with immediate reactivity

Food Sensitivity

This is a Type 3 Delayed onset hypersensitivity reaction

Food Intolerance

Food Intolerances are not directly related to an immunological reaction.

How does food sensitivity differ from a food allergy?

Food Allergy- Type I Hypersensitivity IgE Mediated Response

 An allergic reaction to food occurs when the immune system reacts by mounting a specific IgE antibody mediated immune attack against a specific food protein.

Allergens are classified as individual foods (or inhaled particles) that provoke the immune system's mast cells and basophils to release histamine, IgE antibodies as well as inflammatory cytokines and lymphokines. A true food allergy involves an Immediate Type I Hypersensitivity IgE Reaction. As an aside, airborne allergies are strictly IgE type reactions. These reactions occur in roughly 2-8% of the population and can trigger an immediate reaction within seconds of exposure.

Serum IgE Type I Immediate Hypersensitivity Allergy Test;

True food allergies refer to foods that trigger the immune system to acutely produce massive amounts of histamine that can flood the system leading to minor hives, or to severe welts, swelling and even anaphylaxis in severe reactions and with repeated exposures. Severe anaphylaxis can be potentially life threatening and people diagnosed with this condition are required to carry Epi-pens in case of accidental exposure or ingestion.  

IgE Type 1 Immediate Hypersensitivity Reactions:

 IgE reactions primarily affect the skin, lungs and digestive tract. The release of inflammatory mediators like histamine provokes the following localized & systemic reactions: 
Atopic IgE Responses: itching, eczema, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, cracks around the earlobes, 
Dilation of Blood Vessels & Increased Capillary Permeability: blood vessel dilation, redness, swelling & edema
Respiratory Reactions: aggravation of asthma or respiratory problems including hayfever can occur from food borne or inhaled allergens like pollens, moulds, animal dander, insect stings or some pharmaceutical drugs. 
Constriction of Airways: The release of inflammation-causing chemicals like histamine can cause airway constriction and a stimulation of mucous secretion leading to congestion, breathing difficulties and or minor to severe respiratory distress.

Nerve Endings: The release of inflammation-causing chemicals can cause stimulation of nerve endings, leading to pain and itching on the skin surface. 

Food Sensitivity- IgG Delayed Type III Hypersensitivity Mediated Reaction

 A food sensitivity differs from a food allergy as it causes the activation of a completely different immune pathway. There is no histamine response involved. Instead, in a Delayed Type III Hypersensitivity Reaction, IgG forms an immune response with the allergen by forming an allergen (antigen) complex and activates the complement pathway to release inflammatory mediators such as lymphokines, leukotrienes and IgG mediated antibodies. This process may occur anytime within a few hours of exposure to up to a four day delay in symptom onset.  

Research reveals that delayed food sensitivity reactions can affect up to 20% of the population. These food sensitivities are difficult to track as reactive subgroups circulate and remain active within the system for up to 21 days after the ingestion of a single serving of the offending ingredient. This is where a food elimination diet alone is not enough to really identify the offending foods

IgG Food Sensitivity Reaction Symptom Picture:

 With chronic daily or weekly consumption of these food borne offenders, the body looses its ability to keep up with the accumulation of these allergen-antibody complexes and begins to succomb to the total allergenic body burden. These complexes are then deposited in various body tissues, mostly in the areas of our greatest susceptibilities, which in turn contribute to a variety of health problems depending on which tissues they become localized in, such as;


Skin Deposition: may lead to eczema and other dermatological conditions


Joint Deposition: deposition in joints may lead to swollen and inflamed joints leading to arthritic pain. 


Ear Nose Throat Deposition: deposition can lead to rhinitis, runny nose, puffiness around the eyes and angioedema. 


Vascular Deposition: may lead to headaches, vasculitis or hypertension from the deposition in the blood vessels.


Respiratory Deposition: can cause breathing problems including asthma & chronic recurring respiratory conditions. 


Neurological Deposition: antibody-allergen complexes in nervous system tissues may contribute to hyperactivity, depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate and other mood disorders as part of the exorphin model in which immune complexes create an opiod-like effect, (the brain acts as the secondary gut). 

Food Intolerances

Food intolerance on the other hand, is the body’s inability to tolerate certain foods. These intolerances do not directly activate the immune system via the release of IgG or IgE mediated antibodies in the specific immune system and are therefore not considered by classical definition as true food allergens.

Instead, these foods produce adverse physiological reactions that induce a chronic activation of the innate immune system and give rise to a cascading inflammatory process, including the excessive production of reactive oxygen species and the release of preformed and newly synthesized inflammatory mediators.
These inflammatory processes in turn have been linked to countless chronic conditions such as: 

  • digestive disorders, 
  • migraines, obesity, 
  • chronic fatigue, 
  • ADD, 
  • aching joints, 
  • skin disorders, 
  • and arthritis to name but a few. 


Food intolerances can mimic the classic picture of IgG food sensitivities and leaky gut syndromes albeit via a differing immunological pathway

Intestinal Permeability Testing ~ Leaky Gut Syndrome

 

Intestinal permeability testing is an adjunct to food allergy, food sensitivity or food intolerance testing. The ingestion of offending food particulate and their corresponding immunological responses (whether they are antigen mediated or inflammatory mediated responses), all trend towards damaging the intestinal mucosal lining leading to increased intestinal permeability. Further testing in this area may be required and is an integral component to balancing immunity, curbing reactions and healing of the lining of the gut wall integrity to prevent the vicious cycling of immune mediated responses.  (Connect to Digestive Testing Page for more information)....

Validity of IgG Blood Tests & Serum IgG/ IgE Tests

 These tests are highly valuable and effective at determining your body's reactions to foods.

There are only three possible ways in which a false negative can occur.

For example, the form in which the food is being tested; raw vs. cooked foods have a different molecular structure as the heating process can denature proteins. Some people are highly reactive to the raw forms but can tolerate cooked.

A false negative may also occur as an indication of food intolerance vs. food allergy or sensitivity as elaborated above.

Lastly, a False Negative may occur if the allergen was not ingested within the 3 week period prior to the test date, meaning there was not a significant presence of IgG or IgE antibodies to measure a response.


NOTE: It is strongly advised that anybody with a previous history or build up to severe anaphylaxis, NOT ingest previously suspected food allergens as this may be dangerous. 


After a thorough naturopathic assessment and history, proper instructions will be given to avoid any risks and to minimize the chances for false negatives.

Alcat Test for Food Sensitivities & Intolerances?

The ALCAT, (Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test) is an effective and comprehensive sensitivity~intolerance test. It is not an allergy test as it does not measure either IgE or IgG titres. Instead it differs from other allergy tests as it measures leukocyte cellular reactivity in whole blood, which is a final common pathway of all pathogenic mechanisms whether it is an immune, non-immune, or reaction to a noxious substance.

It is more a direct measure of the non-specific and innate immune system vs. allergy testing that measures the specific immune system. It is the only test shown to correlate with clinical symptoms by double blind oral challenges.

Foods produce reactive sensitivities that induce a chronic activation of the innate immune system and gives rise to a cascading inflammatory process, including the excessive production of reactive oxygen species and the release of preformed and newly synthesized inflammatory mediators.

The test identifies reactions to over 350 foods, chemicals and other substances associated with inflammation that are linked to chronic health problems like migraines, aching joints, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, eczema, hyperactivity/ADD, asthma and even unexplained weight gain. 

What Food Allergen Groups can be Tested?

Most foods can be tested and we offer a wide spectrum of allergy and food sensitivity panels to choose from. These will be discussed during your naturopathic consult to choose the most appropriate panel for you.

Panels can include: Dairy, Egg, Grains, Fruits & Vegetables, Wine, Nuts, Beans & Seeds, Herbs & Spices, Meats, Seafood & Fish, Food Additives & Preservatives, Food Dyes & Colorants, Natural Sweeteners, Environmental Chemicals, Epidermals & Danders, Dusts, Grasses & Weed, Antibiotics & Anti-Inflaammatory Agents, Drugs & Chemicals, Moulds and Female Herbs, Male Herbs, Functional Foods & Medicinal Herbs. 

Which Test is the Most Appropriate for Me?

There are many determinants to choosing the most appropriate type of testing and the best suited test panels. This would be discussed in detail following a thorough assessment. To find out more and schedule an appointment contact Evolve Naturopathic Vitality Centre and schedule your appointment with Dr. Cheryl D’Costa, BPHE, ND, R.Ac.