We all know certain foods can make us feel a certain way. Some of these foods have a similar effect on most people--whether turkey making us sleepy or beans causing flatulence. Some foods are well known to cause certain effects in some people, such as certain wines, cheeses, and chocolates can create headaches in those sensitive to those foods. Finally, we might recognize certain foods to affect ourselves in a fairly unique way. With so many foods out there, and many foods combined in prepared dishes, the reactions each of us might have to specific foods become tougher to identify.
Not only are physical food reactions tough to assess because of the difficulty isolating specific foods, but also because sometimes the reactions may not be as direct as an immediate physical effect. Reactions may be delayed, or may not be physically felt at all. Instead, the reaction may be internal inflammation that you do not feel, just like you do not feel high levels of cholesterol. Like high cholesterol, elevated inflammation can increase your risk of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer.
Over the last two decades, several types of diagnostic tests have been developed to try and measure these difficult to isolate reactions. The general technique of these tests is taking a small amount of blood, exposing it to various foods, and measuring levels of certain reactive or inflammatory factors. Researchers debate whether there is a best factor to measure, with various evidence supporting the utility of various techniques.
For the first time, you can now have food reactivity testing from the comfort of your own home. In addition to other wellness testing, EverlyWell offers a 96-Food Sensitivity Testing Kit created by one of its long-standing certified partner labs. The kit focuses on a common marker of reaction, Immunoglobin G, or IgG. IgG is one of the most common antibodies that the body uses to surround and isolate what your blood considers “foreign”. By measuring the levels of IgG to various foods, foods become classified in several levels from “no reactivity” to “highly reactive.”
Over the years, multiple studies have associated an IgG reaction to foods with various physical symptoms and syndromes, including inflammation, migraine headaches and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While these tests are not absolute, they can give guidance as to what foods you might consider eliminating first to see if that leads to a change in physical symptoms. You can first eliminate highly reactive foods, then moderately reactive, etc.
EverlyWell also offers a test for inflammation, the High-sensitivity C-reactive protein, or Hs-crp. If your inflammation is elevated and you cannot identify an apparent reason, you might consider trialing eliminating reactive foods in the order of reactivity to see if this inflammation can be reduced, in consultation and conjunction with your physician.
By understanding what foods you may react to, you can stop worrying about food and get back to what you should be doing--loving it!