Should One Get Tested For Food Sensitivities?

Food allergies. Listed foods like peanuts or shellfish, which are…


Among the top eight food allergens in the North-America, represent the allergies least likely to be outgrown after childhood. Frequently foods like raw apples, peaches or carrots, which commonly cause itchy mouth or throat in people, with severe pollen allergies – a common condition called oral allergy syndrome. And the majority of the world’s non-European/Caucasian population develop, lactose intolerance at some point before adulthood.


But about five years ago, lists began growing longer and more specific – and making less and less sense. First, new patients started routinely arriving with self-reported gluten intolerance. Then, they began arriving with lists including specific types of refined plant oils like canola or safflower; specific species of fin fish like tilapia, but not sole; certain plant members of one botanical family, but not others (broccoli, but not cauliflower); or certain types of mammalian (red) meat, but not others.


What’s going on? It’s all traceable to an explosion of “food sensitivity” tests, or blood tests that purport to measure non-allergic, but supposedly inflammatory, reactions to a variety of foods. It’s to question these tests. None of them have been scientifically validated to diagnose anything, which is why insurance doesn’t cover them. To be sure, food intolerances do exist. Here are some of the most common ones – none of which, by the way, are diagnosable by blood test:


Some adverse digestive reactions are due to enzyme deficiencies, like lactose intolerance or discomfort related to eating high-FODMAP foods, including certain wheat-based foods. Others, result from a biochemical reaction to specific compounds in a food or beverage – not unlike how one might react to a drug. These compounds’ presence in a food often depend on the method of processing, food additives or the food’s age.


Like histamine, tyramine is a molecule derived from a protein component and can be high in aged and fermented foods. For some people, high tyramine foods trigger migraines. Those who use medications called MAO inhibitors can experience an acute and dangerous spike in blood pressure, related to consuming tyramine-rich foods. Or, Sulfites food additives commonly used as preservatives in wine, dry fruit, processed fruit juices, frozen shellfish, processed potatoes and condiments.


Don’t waste your money on unproven “food sensitivity” testing. Instead, maintain a record of the food(s) or dishes that seem to have provoked symptoms for you in the past. Include specifics too, about the type of reaction you had and the time frame in which it occurred. Bringing such a list to a credentialed registered dietitian or allergist/immunologist may, help you identify the true culprits behind your mysterious food reactions.


Article credit: U.S. News & World Report – Health

Photo credit: Easy Health Options

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