Which test for food sensitivity is right for you?
Nancy M. Varela-Gastelum, HK BioTek Intern
With technological advancement, more and more tests have been established to measure food sensitivity in individuals. Assessing the many food sensitivity testing options may be daunting, however, crucial when dealing with the harsh symptoms which result from food sensitivity. The main types of testing are blood tests, skin tests, and other tests (like oral food challenge, challenge diet, food diaries and Bioresanance).
Skin tests, which include the skin prick test and skin patch test, are performed by physicians in a clinic by pricking the skin with needles containing common food proteins or placing patches on the skin and accessing the reactions on skin. Although the procedure is simple, it only reflects immediate reactions on skin and relies on intact skin to do the test. In other words, the tests cannot be applied to patients with severe eczema condition.
Alternatively, the use of controlled oral food challenges, challenge diet and food diaries can be employed in order to evaluate food sensitivities within individuals. However, for oral food challenge, it must be administered by medical specialists. Food diary and challenge diet requires patience to do trial and error. Bioresonance only compares the difference in frequency of electromagnetic waves emitted from the body and the food samples, which lacks concrete scientific evidence to prove its clinical accuracy.
In a short note, skin tests and other methods offer, either, only immediate or delayed response and may be uncomfortable or harder to employ.
Blood testing, the most popular method, includes a variety of technologies (e.g. ELISA, Enhanced Chemiluminescence Immunoassay, ELISA Multiplex Microarray, ALCAT, RAST, Singleplex or Multiplex ImmunoCAP). They offer an evaluation of food sensitivities determined by the presence and concentration of IgE and IgG anti-bodies in the blood. IgE and IgG are antibodies produced by the immune system when food sensitivities arise and cause the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. IgE anti-bodies are associated with immediate allergic reactions, while IgG is associated with delayed and accumulated symptoms.
Enzyme-Linked Immuno-sorbent Assay, or ELISA, is a plate-based assay technique designed for detecting and quantifying substances such as peptides, proteins, antibodies, and hormone. ELISA is a widely used tool that only takes a sample of blood and provides highly stable and accurate results for up to 280 different foods. It does, however, take 2-3 weeks in order to receive results upon sending a sample.
ELISA and ELISA Multiplex Micro-Array technology tests for both IgE and IgG anti-bodies. ELISA Multiplex Micro-Array technology, however, is still in the process of maturing and it is hard to process quality control. Also, low sensitivity is another weakness for the technology.
Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT) is another blood test. It does not measure antibody levels as other blood tests, instead it measures the size change of immune cells to determine the levels of reactivity. However, this test is lacking clinical and scientific evidence to support its validation on determining allergic reaction. Also, it has fairly low repeatability and accuracy.
While there is a variety of food sensitivity testing options to choose from, in order to decide which test is best for you, it is important to consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner first. Whether you are interested in a blood test, skin test, or food challenge diaries, getting tested is an important step towards reaching your maximum health potential.
You could also compare different kinds of tests HERE.