Food Sensitivity Blood Tests — Which One is Best?

Are There Different Types of Food Sensitivity Tests?

If you are experiencing symptoms of a food sensitivity but are not sure which food is causing your discomfort, it may be time for a food sensitivity test. These tests can take many forms and it may be difficult to discern which of the different types of food sensitivity tests is best for you.  If you are curious about how to test for food sensitivities, the following information will give you a good idea.

Elimination Diets

An elimination diet may be a good place to start if you think you may have a food sensitivity.  In order to do an elimination diet, you need to remove any possible offending foods and then reintroduce them one at a time. By only testing one food at a time, it is much easier to find out which foods are causing the uncomfortable symptoms.

Since it is difficult to truly eliminate common foods like gluten and dairy, it can take several weeks to identify just one sensitivity, especially if you are not 100% in control of the food you are eating. Gluten can be found in a wide variety of foods including breads, pastas and cereals, so it is important to check labels when buying snacks from the grocery store. It can also be found in places you wouldn’t expect, since wheat is often used as a thickening ingredient in many sauces, so be careful when going out to eat. It is also important to note that many gluten-free foods will become contaminated if they are fried in the same deep fryer as something containing gluten, like breaded chicken. And that’s just gluten. Dairy, egg and soy can also be tricky to eliminate. In order to use an elimination diet as a food sensitivity test, it is important to eliminate ALL foods that might be causing you problems. Need help eliminating foods? Check out our cooking ingredient substitution chart

Elimination diets are effective, but the time they take makes them inconvenient. They also limit the types of foods a person can eat making it difficult to plan meals or, in some cases, get the nutrients they need on a daily basis. While this type of test may work well for an adult or an infant, it may not be appropriate for children, especially if immediate results are needed.

Skin Prick Tests (Scratch tests)

Another common form of allergy test is the skin prick or scratch test where a small scratch is placed on the arm or back and a small drop of allergen is placed upon it. If the skin becomes red and irritated, you are allergic to the substance. Most of these tests are placed on the back to prevent cross-reactivity or contamination, although some testing can be done on the arm or forearm. Many skin prick tests can test for a full panel of foods at once.

While this type of test is extremely effective and offers visible results, the patient must lay still for very long periods of time and must have enough self control to keep themselves from scratching the test site. Depending on the number of allergens being tested, the process can take up to 90 minutes or longer to complete. This type of test would not be ideal for children.

Blood Tests

The final form of food sensitivity testing is a blood test. To perform this test, your doctor will draw blood from you and then send it to a lab to examine how your blood reacts to certain foods. When a food sensitivity is present, the results of the test will show elevated levels of IgG antibodies. These antibodies are produced when the body is reacting to an infection or what it perceives to be an infection. Immunoglobulin antibodies are also what is present in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disorder causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissues in the body.

Blood tests are, by far, the easiest type of food sensitivity test since little to no effort is required from the patient. A single finger poke will produce enough blood to perform the test and only takes a few seconds to perform. Some labs can perform a full food panel test from a very small amount of blood. Unlike the skin prick or scratch test that can take 90 minutes or longer, this type of test is ideal for small children who may become restless or uncomfortable easily.

The symptoms of food sensitivities are often confused with Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions that affect the gut. In order to determine if your symptoms are caused by food sensitivities or one of those diseases, it is important to weigh the pros and cons between the different types of food sensitivity testing and choose the test that is best for you. The key is to use appropriate testing methods that are both accurate and effective. 

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