A few weeks ago, my doctor took a blood sample from my finger in order to test for 400+ food allergies (sensitivities). I received my IgG food allergy test results from my naturopath today and received the following information:
Severe sensitivity to string beans (e.g. green beans), garlic, kidney beans, sugar and yeast. I had moderate reactions to egg whites, whey, casein and cow’s milk. Now that I have this information, we can alter my diet and eliminate these foods for the required amount of time, and then begin to re-introduce them. I won’t be re-introducing cow’s milk as I don’t normally eat dairy, nor will I re-introduce too much sugar due to my candida overgrowth and leaky gut issues (I’ll chat about candida and leaky gut in a separate post as this is appearing to be the cause of many minor and major illnesses these days).
Here’s what my results looked like from the lab:
You are unique. That means that what you may or may not be allergic to is individual to you. That being said, after two decades and tens of thousands of allergy tests, it’s been found that certain foods are more likely to initiate allergic reactions than others. This does not necessarily mean that the food in question is “bad” – just that it’s bad for you if you react. Of the 20 most common food or food group allergens (right in descending order), by far the most allergy-provoking are dairy products, yeast, eggs and grains – especially wheat.
Cow’s milk is consistently the most common food allergen. Classic IgE-based milk allergy is the most common food allergy, and so too is hidden or delayed-onset IgG milk allergy.
Milk’s status as an allergen isn’t surprising. This is a highly specific food, containing all sorts of hormones designed for the first few months of a calf’s life. It’s also a relatively recent addition to the human diet. Approximately 75 per cent of people stop producing lactase, the enzyme that’s needed to digest milk sugar lactose, once they’ve been weaned – one of the many clues that human beings aren’t meant to drink cow’s milk. Lactose intolerance can lead to diarrhoea, bloating, cramping and excess gas.
However, it’s not lactose that causes the allergic reaction. It’s the protein in milk known as casein. In other words, you can be either lactose intolerant, or milk protein allergic, or both. Cow’s milk is a major contributing factor to middle-ear infection, an allergy-related disease that affects over a million babies and children in the UK every year. Milk allergy also contributes to iron deficiency and is one of the top two or three allergens found in children and adults with poor sleep, asthma, eczema, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperactivity, bronchitis, indigestion, chronic diarrhoea, chronic fatigue, depression, autism, epilepsy, and even type 1 diabetes. If you have ever suffered from any of these conditions, milk should be high on your suspect list for a hidden food allergy. If you are allergic to cow’s milk, goat’s or sheep’s milk are not viable alternatives as they all contain casein, and your immune system is unlikely to be able to distinguish one milk from the other. It is best to avoid all milk for at least three months, then introduce sheep’s or goat’s milk and notice your reaction.
Wheat, gluten and gliadin
Your daily bread may be your deadly bread, and you may not even know it. Wheat, some other grains and the cereal proteins gluten and gliadin could be a big factor in any feelings of unwellness you’re experiencing. The old view was that about 1 in 5,000 people had coeliac disease, the genetically transferred digestive and malnutrition disorder caused by an extreme allergy to gluten. However, new research shows gluten allergy affects possibly as many as 1 in 100 normal, symptom-free people, often showing no digestive symptoms at all, and as many as 1 in 10 people with diabetes or thyroid disease. Go back 10 years and coeliac disease was diagnosed by gut biopsy to see if the villi – tiny finger-like protrusions in the intestine walls that aid nutrient absorption – had shrivelled up and flattened. Nowadays, it’s most easily diagnosed by a simple blood test called the Ig anti-tissue transglutaminase test, or IgAtTG for short. When this test was randomly carried out, coeliac disease was found to occur in 1 in every 167 so-called normal, healthy children and 1 in every 111 normal, healthy adults. Among those who report gastro intestinal symptoms, it occurs in 1 in 40 children and 1 in 30 adults. Among those who have a father, mother, brother, sister or grandparent with coeliac disease, the risk is 1 in 11. So the condition is far from rare. However, many more people are allergic to wheat and other gluten grains, but don’t have coeliac disease.
This is often because their immune systems produce IgG antibodies that attack wheat, or a component of it, producing a whole host of insidious and not immediate symptoms that somehow never develop into full-blown coeliac disease.
So what are the symptoms of gluten allergy? The most common ones include sinusitis, fatigue, mouth ulcers, anaemia, weight loss, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, diverticulitis, depression, attention and behavioural problems in children, and autism.
Recently, it has been discovered that people with gluten allergies have a genetic “tag” called DQ2 and DQ8, which is common in societies that introduced grains late – notably the northwest of Europe, especially western Ireland, Iceland, Finland and Scandinavia, where grain growing isn’t easy. This research is revealing that as many as one in three people in Britain may be allergic to gluten.
Knowing all this, you might wonder why we are eating so much wheat. The answer is simply that bakers the world over love to work with cereals that have a high gluten content. The higher the gluten content, the more elastic, expandable and heat resistant the dough becomes. This results in lighter, softer, and more profitable breads, biscuits and pastries.
While gluten is the key protein in wheat, it’s also found in rye, barley and oats. The principal type of gluten in wheat is called gliadin, followed by glutenin, while the main type of gluten in rye is called hirudin, and in barley, secalin, although both also contain some gliadin. The type of gluten found in oats, however, bears no resemblance to gliadin. Approximately 80 per cent of people diagnosed with coeliac disease don’t react to oats.
If you suspect you might be gluten-sensitive, you could start by avoiding all gluten grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats) for at least 10 days. If this avoidance diet makes you feel noticeably better, you could try reintroducing oats, since oats contain no gliadin, and see what happens.
A possible 300,000 people in the UK are allergic to peanuts. Half of those allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts, and often sunflower seeds and sesame seedAbout one in three people tested using an IgG food intolerance test will react to wheat. Of these, 90 per cent will react to gliadin, while 15 per cent will react to barley and 2 per cent to rye. Even fewer react to oats. It’s well worth getting yourself checked out. It saves a lot of guesswork.
Yeast, the source of the next most widespread food allergy, is found not only in bread as baker’s yeast, but also in soya sauce, beer and, to a lesser extent, wine. Beer and lager are fermented with brewer’s yeast. If you’ve noticed that you feel worse after beer or wine than you do after spirits, then you may be yeast sensitive.
Does this mean you can’t drink? Not at all; it just means you’ll need to pick and choose. Stick to spirits, or have a glass of champagne – made by a double-fermentation process, there’s not much yeast in it.
Some people think they’re allergic to wheat because they feel worse after eating bread. If you’ve noticed this but feel fine after pasta, you may not be allergic to wheat, but to the yeast in bread.
Nuts and beans
Nuts and beans are part of the same food family, along with fruit pips. The most common IgG allergy-causing foods in this group are, in descending order: cashew nuts, soya beans, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. You can react to one and not others, but if you do react to a member of this family there’s a greater chance that you’ll react to another. Coffee and chocolate are also members of this family.
The most common immediate-onset, IgE allergy causing foods are peanuts and tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews, according to the US-based Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. A possible 300,000 people in the UK are allergic to peanuts (not a true nut, but a legume in the same group as beans, peas and lentils). Half of those allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts, and often sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
If your doctor suspects your child might have a peanut or nut allergy, they will probably refer you to an allergy specialist for further testing because the reactions can be very dangerous, even fatal. Unlike allergies to other foods like milk and eggs, children generally don’t outgrow allergies to peanuts or nuts.
With soya consumption rapidly on the rise, there is an escalating increase in reports of allergic reactions. The reason for the explosion in soya allergy isn’t completely known, but one proposed explanation is that GM soya is more likely to cause allergies, and GM soya use has risen sharply in recent years.
The adverse effects can be very serious. If babies allergic to soya are introduced to it early in life (perhaps as an alternative to formula milk if they weren’t breast-fed), that can actually increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Like peanuts, soya can also induce anaphylaxis in people severely allergic to it.
Of all the fruits, the most commonly allergenic has been found to be the kiwi fruit. By the way, soya and other beans and lentils are high in a type of carbohydrate called glucosides. These are quite hard to digest, but not for the bacteria within our guts. The net result is that they produce gas and possible bloating. But this does not mean that you are allergic. First try chewing them thoroughly. You could also go to a health food shop and buy a digestive enzyme containing amyloglucosidase, which helps you digest beans. If this relieves the embarrassing symptoms, there’s no reason to assume you are allergic, unless other allergic symptoms – which for soya can include sinusitis and rhinitis – remain.
If you are considering a soya-based diet, perhaps because you’re a vegan or are allergic to milk, it’s probably wise to get tested with an IgG food allergy test.
Like soya, eggs are a good source of protein, and also contain other important nutrients such as phospholipids, which are vital for the brain. Also like soya, eggs can provoke allergic reactions. These are particularly common in children. In one study of 107 children with dermatitis, 92 were found to be allergic to egg white. In another study investigating 156 children with the symptom of swollen lips, half were found to be allergic to egg white. Reactions to egg white are much more common than to egg yolk, almost certainly because of a type of protein in egg white called ovomucoid. If this is removed from egg white, most people stop reacting.
Egg allergy is certainly worth suspecting if you have either eczema or dermatitis, and eliminating eggs from the diet of children prone to eczema has proven effective.
Garlic, onions and chilli
The health benefits of garlic have been known for centuries, but remember – we are each unique, and this pungent bulb doesn’t suit to garlic, also be suspicious of onions, since they come from the same food family. Another common culinary allergen is chilli and, as it’s part of the same family as cayenne and paprika, be wary of these if you find you’re allergic.
Of all the fruits, the most commonly allergenic has been found to be the kiwi fruit. But obviously, don’t give up on these delectable vitamin-rich fruits unless you’ve tested positive for them in an allergy test or know you react to them.
While all these foods are among the most common to come up positive in an allergy test, it’s important to recall that food allergies are unique to individuals. For example, in one trial testing 150 people with IBS, 23 people were found to be allergic to the same foods as another patient, but the remainder, that’s 127 people, or 85 per cent, had unique test results. In this trial, only one person failed to react to any of the top five allergenic foods. If this is anything to go by, it means that the chances you may be reacting to one of the top five foods are high – but also that the chances you react to only one of the top five are very small indeed. That’s why it’s recommended you get yourself properly tested.
IgE & IgG food allergies
A food allergy develops when your immune system treats a food you’ve eaten as an invader, not a friend. There are two main types of allergic reaction – immediate-onset and the much more common delayed-onset. These involve two different families of antibodies, called IgE and IgG respectively. The “Ig” stands for immunoglobulin, while the “E” or “G” is the type or family of immunoglobulin. Immediate-onset allergies are rare: fewer than five per cent of us have them, and they are found mostly in children. If you are of the 2 in 100 adults to have an IgE allergy, you will almost certainly know about it because the reactions usually involve one or two foods and appear within seconds or up to only two hours later. Delayed-onset IgG allergic reactions are much more common, affecting as many as one in three people. IgG- related symptoms are delayed and only appear two hours to several days after consuming the allergen.
Top 20 most common delayed on-set IgG food allergies
- Cow’s milk
- Gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley)
- Egg whites
- Cashew nuts
- Egg yolk
- Soya beans
- Brazil nuts
- Kiwi fruit
- Chilli peppers
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
So here’s the final list of foods I can’t eat for up to 2 years. My family is going to love this…not!
It’s nice to have this information back from my doctor so that we can continue down my path of healing until my fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression go into what I will call “remission” because I KNOW this is possible after everything I have learned at school, in the media, and through holistic doctors.
I’m off to lay down and take a nap – my body has been under too much stress lately and the pain and fatigue has been unbearable.