Food Allergies – are IgG tests useful?

It is becoming increasingly common for children to develop a sensitivity to foods. What this means is that when they eat a certain food, their immune system overreacts to it triggering symptoms ranging from sleepiness to hyperactivity to skin rashes and tummy pain. Food sensitivities are tricky to tease out – reactions are varied and they can show up several days after exposure.

It is estimated that 1 in 3 children suffers from a sensitivity (also called an intolerance) to foods. It’s A Big Deal… and can be a contributing factor to complex conditions such as asthma, ADHD, Autism, diabetes, celiac, and many more.

But it’s important to know that food sensitivity is a symptom, not a diagnosis…. yes, it can be a contributor to symptoms but really, it’s a symptom in and of itself – it’s a call to look deeper into the resilience of the body.

Let me explain…

I was approached by a mom of three the other day who was interested in running a food sensitivity test for her son who was experiencing ADHD-like behaviour, dry patchy eczema-like skin and interrupted sleep. This blood test runs about $300 and tests for an IgG immune response to over 200 foods and this mom thought it would give her some guidance as to the root cause of her son’s troubles. Now, the validity of this test is hotly debated but I do sometimes run it as a helpful screening tool.

For this mom, though, I told her that I did not think it was the right place to spend her money…. for now.

Here’s what I explained to her…

I explained that I thought she was on the right track because, as I mentioned, immune reactions to foods can contribute to a host of symptoms including those her son was experiencing. And yes she was correct that an IgG test could be a helpful guide to determine which foods were burdening her son’s body and causing interference. The point of the test is to identify and remove irritation as a way to free up a child’s energy so they can focus on what they should be doing – which is learning and growing.

BUT, like I mentioned above, food sensitivities are symptoms. Not root causes.

This mom already knew that when her son ate cheese and tomatoes he got lethargic and irritable. Those were trigger foods for him that were likely to come up positive should we run the test.

But the problem was not actually the cheese and tomatoes – the problem was the body’s inability to tolerate the foods because of reduced resilience.  So that is where I suggested she focus her energy first.

I gave this mom a copy of my book, which outlines the 2-pronged approach and 3 Core Dietary Strategies for boosting resilience and instructed her to work on those strategies first. At the same time she was to keep out the cheese and tomatoes, any other food that was clearly causing noticeable symptoms.

At that point, after really working on raising resilience by following the strategies in the book, if her son was still not tolerating cheese and tomatoes (or anything else) she was to come back and we could consider the test as a way to go deeper. But until the basics were covered, until resilience was stronger, I didn’t think it was worth shelling out the $300.

So here’s the take-home message about food sensitivities…

They are becoming more and more of a problem. If left undetected they can cause myriad symptoms that involve the skin, the bowel, the brain, the hormones…. just about every body system. Removing foods to which the IgG arm of the immune system is overreacting can be an important part of symptom resolution. BUT restricting the diet can be difficult and can open the door to nutritional deficiencies – so we don’t want to do it for too long (or at all if we can avoid it).

The real reason food sensitivity is becoming more and more common is that our physical resilience is deteriorating. Our digestive systems’ ability to render foods hypoallergenic has become compromised as has our immune systems’ ability to respond appropriately. The result? Food sensitivities.

Increased toxic load, nutritional deficiencies and reduced diversity of gut bacteria are emerging as important contributors to the food sensitivity picture because those things reduce our resilience.

Here are some other contributing factors:

  • genetically modified food,
  • increased exposure to chemicals and pesticides,
  • nutritional deficiencies,
  • increased rate of cesarean births,
  • toxic metal exposure,
  • increased use of antibiotics and other medications
  • sugar
  • stress

So it’s not that surprising that we are seeing a rise in the rate of sensitivities and allergies.

But identifying and removing the foods as identified by a food sensitivity test is only a very small part of the solution.

The real key to managing food sensitivities is to improve the health of the body. Raise Resilience.


Ready For More?....

Click to this video post to learn more about the gut-allergy connection.

If you have a baby, keep in mind that sensitivities can be thwarted by paying close attention to gut bugs when starting solid foods. Click here for more info on that.

If your child is struggling with self regulation issues (ADHD, aggression, anxiety, autism) check out my Jumpstart Program to improve their resilience.



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