Wednesday, January 14, 2009

IgG Food Sensitivity Testing

There is a fair amount of debate as to the usefulness of food sensitivity testing.  Those in favor tend to cite the fact that eliminating the foods these tests suggest eliminating reduced their symptoms, and those opposed cite shaky test reliability and the considerable ongoing debate as to whether the antibodies being tested are actually important.  Of undisputed importance, however, is nutrition, which can very easily fall by the wayside when making radical changes to diet.

One study found results from a particular lab to vary by 73% on average numerically, with the eat/don't eat recommendation varying by 59% -- ie if you took the test twice it would give you a different recommendation for 59% of the foods on the list.  Not encouraging to say the least.  But that was only one lab of the three that they tested, and that was also seven years ago now.  It's likely that things have improved dramatically since then.

Another study provides some evidence in favor of IgG testing.  Patients were given the test, and some were put on a diet excluding their actual indicated sensitivities and others were put on a diet excluding other foods.  After twelve weeks, among those fully adherent to the diet, those on the true diet reported a 26% greater reduction in symptoms than those on the sham diet. 

I was given an IgG food sensitivity panel at the same time as my Celiac panel.  My results were as follows (there were 96 foods total; the ones below the .200 threshold aren't shown):

The results weren't that surprising; all of the familiar Celiac enemies are at the top, along with their frequent accomplice, dairy.  Eggs were something of a surprise, though looking back it does explain some things.  

The question was what to do with these results.  Going gluten-free is hard enough, but gluten and corn together is nigh impossible, not to mention all of the others.  But continuing to eat things that there's at least some evidence I shouldn't could hinder the healing process.  So in the pursuit of science and relief after thirty years of symptoms, I opted to attempt excluding all of the above for a time and slowly reintroduce things as I improved.  I'd heard that other sensitivities tend to calm down as the damage caused by Celiac begins to heal.  

Suffice it to say that I lost some weight in the effort, and learned that the first thing that Americans tend to do when they modify a piece of food is add some wheat or corn to it.  But I ate my bananas and unseasoned meat for a while, and eventually got brave and healthy enough to start reintroductions.

The tough part about reintroducing foods when you have a sheet of paper that says it doesn't like you is that you become hyper-aware of that.  This is one of the reasons a lot of doctors don't like doing this kind of testing in the first place.  So in the interest of curbing some of that anxiety I instead eventually instituted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for non-gluten ingredients.  I won't down a glass of eggs Rocky-style, but I won't ask if the gluten-free cookies have eggs in them.  If I feel suboptimal afterwards, though, I know more or less what to blame.  Through trial and error, I'm hoping to figure out what of the above I still need to be concerned about.  


  1. Love the blog!!! I hate the BRAT diet! It's like, here, your bowels aren't working, let's make them even worse... I need to go back and look at my celiac panel results now that I understand the numbers. I love the title of your blog.

  2. There was an interesting study done where they tested varoius meats as well. Here is the link ...

    The researchers found that all IBS patients have markedly higher IgG4 levels for wheat, lamb, beef, and pork.

    I also don't see casein on the list and that is probably the single most antibody producing food there is and you can simply google casein and antibodies to bring up hundreds of studies.

    I sympathize totally with how difficult of a quest it is but stay with it because these researchers$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

    found that it does pay off and that symptoms do get better if you eliminate the foods that your body finds irritating.