IgG tests promise to reveal food sensitivities. But are they science or science-ish?


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18 comments

  1. Kira B

    We tried keeping a food reaction because of severe non IgE food allergies (red cheeks/GI issues/rashes/eczema) Mainstream testing and allergists were zero help. We stumbled upon ALCAT food sensitivity test and FINALLY were able to get relief for symptoms. Allergens included black pepper and broccoli which were frequently consumed, impossible to figure out with a food diary and when removed truly brought relief to years of chronic, visible symptoms. Yes–there is not a lot of science to these alternative food tests–but sometimes they help individuals when mainstream medicine fails to bring relief or even acknowledgement of the problem. One GI doctor told me “We deal with death and disease not health and wellness.” So if your reactions are causing you to be unwell and not healthy but don’t fall into the death and disease catagory often it is outside the scope of what MDs in the US deal with. We did the ALCAT every year or so until my sons gut and immune system healed. I am truly grateful for the parent who showed me the ALCAT food allergy panel when mainstream doctors were failing us. I understand doctors reluctance to believe in these tests. But as a parent–it was very helpful to us and halted non IgE food reactions. Interesting article. Thanks for overview.

    • Nikki

      Well said Kira! My family has had similar benefits from the Alcat test.

  2. Julie Bolin

    Wow! Thank you for this article. I’m just coming off of a 21 day elimination of the foods that my IgG test said I was sensitive to. (I thought it was bogus because it contained almost every healthy food that I typically eat – like lettuce and cabbage) I wish I had done a little more research because this test was very expensive (out of pocket was $250 but they billed my insurance $5000).

    • Saskia

      Hi Julie,
      I have just been doing an elimination diet as well, IBS, and symptoms actually got worse instead of better. Did you notice a difference in your symptoms?

      Hope what ever you are dealing with gets better soon!

      Saskia

    • Ali

      Are you kidding me??? $5000 is insane and should be illegal! I had to pay for mine out of pocket and submit on my own. The company really should be fighting that charge then. Insane!

      As it was, I had only 5 foods in the red and 9 in the yellow zone. The rest all green. So it really does look like stress (and now anxiety according to my chiro) is the main culprit!

  3. Ro Fundum

    I’m on the fence about the info in this article. In some ways it makes sense. But the statement, “…… IgG may simply indicate that the food is in the diet.” does not make sense to me. I had the test done, and it came back as “highly sensitive” to whey, hemp, and kidney beans. I often did whey protein with hemp seed hearts for omega 3’s. So in that respect the above statement makes sense. But I rarely eat kidney beans….by rarely I mean maybe once a year.
    Also, my test came back as moderate sensitivity (just barely below the ‘high’ sensitivity range) to papaya & pineapple. I do not eat pineapple because I don’t like it. I ate one bite of papaya, one time several years ago. I didn’t like it either and I never eat it.
    Furthermore, many of the foods I do eat a lot of, are on my low sensitivity list. Things such as eggs (I eat them almost every day), berries (I eat daily), all nuts & seeds (I eat daily), and my favorite cheese (cheddar) which I eat often. My results showed that I could continue to eat these foods freely, they were very low on my reaction list. So it seems that the correlation is not consistent.
    Of interest, is the fact that once I got my results I immediately quit doing my whey/hemp protein drinks. Within a few days, the pain that had been in my shoulder for the last couple of years completely let up and I now have complete range of motion again. The only thing I did different was quit the whey protein (and hemp seed hearts).

    So bottom line, although this article is interesting, I cannot help but wonder if there is some valid science supporting the IGg test that is just not yet mainstream. The author of this article does make some sense, but I’m not ready to discount the clinical usefulness of the food sensitivity test.

  4. Colin

    I am just about to have my test done. My family doctor prescribed medicine that was harmful to me and suggested I continue on long term it long term even though it wasn’t relieving any symptoms. I went to a Naturopath that had me supplement a couple of vitamins etc and after 3 days I am feeling marginally better. He suggested I get the IGG test done and see if instead of putting something foreign into my body (hardcore pills) maybe I just need to remove something (a food or two). It is a no brainer in my opinion. Mainstream doctors do not seem to care about the root causes just symptom relief at any expense to overall health. My opinion…

  5. Scott Rozell

    Paying for Food Specific IgG allergy testing is the first mistake people make. This testing is performed by EVERY lab in the U.S.. What that means is that they are covered by most insurance companies when using a repeatable lab and they are ordered by a doctor.
    Next is, nobody is eating a whole food diet. You have no idea what is in processed foods. Natural Flavors is a very common ingredient in processed foods. No identification of the “Flavors” is required on the label.
    Then trusting any labeling on foods. The FDA clearly states that up to 20ppm of Wheat is allowed in Certified Gluten Free labeled foods. Therefore, those GF labeled foods are actually NOT gluten free.
    You really need to understand the food supply in the U.S.. FDA does a poor job of regulating. Tobacco companies own 80% of all food manufacturers. That right there should scare everyone.

  6. Colin

    Got my results today.

    I have an extremely elevated sensitivity to 40 of the 120 foods tested and another 6 are mildly elevated. Funny thing is I also have no elevated sensitivity to 6 foods that I am sensitive too and always have been. I am doubting the merits of this test… at least as far as my blood is concerned. I have another very expensive apt with my naturopath Dr. in a few days and will see how he recommends that I proceed. I am just about to go and eat my lunch and then I read my emailed blood report. My lunch has 5 sensitivity elevated foods in it, seriously 5.

    #DiscouragedBeyondBelief
    #InsaneFromTheVein
    #WhatDidIJustPay$400For?

  7. Maureen

    I just received results for an IgG test and it had elevated levels of all the foods I am eating on a regular basis. However, dairy was not elevated which I react to. If I follow the results and removed all the elevated foods, there is no way I am eating a healthy diet!

  8. Paul

    These tests work!
    I changed my diet based on the IgG tests. I have had the test twice 3 years aparts. Here is the result… previously I had high levels if intolerance to 33 foods. Wheat and dairy being the most intolerant foods.
    After a very strict diet for 3 years, all of my intolerances have decreased in magnitude but still exist without any recent sources in my diet.
    All of my poor health symptoms such as fatigue, arthritis, migraines, indigestion, cramps, and IBS have been eliminated and my intolerant food list has reduced to 27 foods. Dairy and Wheat are still my most intolerant foods.

    I am sometimes reminded for days after eating a mysterious ingredient in a restuarant that some foods can act like poison in the body.

  9. Peter

    It is crucial to separate IgG-tests from IgG4-tests. IgG4 is viewed as an antagonist to IgE-responses and does not correlate to delayed responses to food. But other IgG-tests do. I provide som references after spending a day looking for scientific backing. :

    IBS
    Atkinson W, Sheldon TA, Shaath N, Whorwell PJ. Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. Gut 2004; 53: 1459–1464
    Zar S, Mincher L, Benson MJ, Kumar D. Food-specific IgG4 antibody-guided exclusion diet improves symptoms and rectal compliance in irritable bowel syndrome. Scand J Gastroenterol 2005; 40: 800–807
    Drisko J, Bischoff B, Hall M, McCallum R. Treating irritable bowel syndrome with a food elimination diet followed by food challenge and probiotics. J Am Coll Nutr 2006; 25: 514–522
    Zuo XL, Li YQ, Li WJ, et al. Alterations of food antigen-specific serum immunoglobulins G and E antibodies in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia. Clin Exp Allergy 2007; 37: 823–830
    Yang and Li, Zhonghua Nei Ke Za Zhi. 2007 Aug;46(8):641-3. [The therapeutic effects of eliminating allergic foods according to food-specific IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome].
    Ou-Yang et al 2008. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2008 Feb;10(1):21-4. [Application of food allergens specific IgG antibody detection in chronic diarrhea in children].
    Fergus S, Peter J. IgG-mediated food intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome: a real phenomenon or an epiphenomenom? Am J Gastroenterol 2005; 100: 1558-9.
    Aydinlar EI, et al. IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache 2013;53:514-525.

    There is pretty much on migraine as well and some other diagnoses too

  10. dilis clare

    As a family doctor I was very wary about the expense to people of an unproven Food Intolerance Test. I always made sure people reintroduced the foods as tis is the missing action, even though people are advised to do this they often don’t comply for a variety of reasons.
    However I was with my sister and her family when after a usual family meal my niece aged 7 became unmanageable with a severe temper tantrum over nothing. They coped but after she went to bed I enquired what was going on. They said ‘welcome to our world, sometimes this happens for no reason, usually after dinner’. I recommended a Food Intolerance Test as there were no clues as to any particular foods. She came back positive for wheat dairy and peas. No problems while they were eliminated, milk and wheat re-introduced, all well. Peas reintroduced and all hell broke loose. Same happened with several reintroduction, even when blended and disguised as none of us were convinced of the science.
    Safe to say peas are no longer on the shopping list.
    I had been absorbing patients stories of similar experiences, this lead to the recommendation. I don’t often suggest the tests, only in conjunction with seeing a nutritionist and most often suggest elimination and reintroduction. But they can answer and solve some health issues if used discriminately and with guidance.
    Of the billions spent on medical testing just in case and for patient reassurance or as a ritual this one is not the worst by a long chalk. Incidentally these problems started shortly after a severe allergic reaction to Ibuprofen taken for a fever with an infected finger which may have caused GIT damage or immune crossreactivity. We will never know.
    Dr Dilis Clare Galway Ireland

  11. Lucy

    Fact-check:
    In this article it says ” There is evidence that kids who have had their diets limited by food allergies can be susceptible to poor growth and nutrient deficiencies—and it makes sense that restricting a child’s diet due to suspected intolerances or sensitivities could have the same effect”. Doubting this, because I have seen exactly the opposite when food reactivites/allergies are identified and removed, I followed the link for this quote and found the TRUE study results (which do make sense to me)…
    STUDY RESULTS:
    “Six studies were analyzed. One study found that children with food allergies are more likely to be malnourished than children without food allergies. Three studies found that children with multiple food allergies were shorter than children with 1 food allergy. Four studies assessed nutrient intake of children with multiple food allergies, but the inclusion and comparison criteria were different in each of the studies and the findings were conflicting. One study found that children with food allergies who did not receive nutrition counseling were more likely to have inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D.”
    I have not edited this in any way. This result makes sense to me, as the reason kids are manifesting food reactivites/allergies in the first place is because their digestive and immune systems are not operating optimally! Of course they are going to be often shorter/less well nourished – they are not digesting well and need to work with someone who can help optimize digestion and give guidance on balance of nutrients. Any allergens can be removed from the diet without removing necessary nutrients. Luckily, nature supplied us with MANY beautiful sources.

  12. Jenn Kozek

    No one lab test is ever perfect. This is why as my book explains a multiple of different types of testing tells a more complete story. Gut testing, etc etc

    All I know as applied kinesiology (muscle testing), ALCAT (white blood cells) and IgG (antibodies) testing all told us a similar thing.

    Healing Without Hurting

  13. Leelee

    I disagree. I struggled with eczema and hives after eating and severe stomach pain and just a general unwell feeling. I had IgE tests and they all came back negative. I then decided on the advice of a functional doctor to have an IgG test which came back with a very high positive for wheat, eggs and dairy. I knew I reacted to them that is why I had the IgE test in the first place which was negative. Well based on the results of the IgG I cut out dairy, wheat and eggs. Guess what, my eczema, hives and stomach pain disappeared. I even tested positive for Cola Nuts which I have never eaten in my life so your theory of elevated IgG levels for everything you eat daily does not pan out. I also tested negative for things I eat daily, so again you are wrong. So do I believe you, or the great result I had trusting the IgG test? Tired of conventional doctors that never
    think out of the box and guess what? After cutting those three there is a vast improvement in my auto immune illnesses, multiple sclerosis being one of them.

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