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New Food Allergy Testing

A new food allergy test was recently released. Can it help you or should you save your money? The near $1,000.00 question is discussed in this week’s video. Dr. Ruscio also provides insights on how to determine and overcome your food allergies.


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Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. This is Dr. Ruscio. I wanted to give you an update on a new food allergy test that’s become available based on a recent study.

I want to thank Dr. Thomas O’Brien for bringing this to my attention. I recently came across this from some of his work. I will put the abstract up on the screen here briefly. The abstract essentially reads…I won’t redo the whole title, but essentially this study is showing something very interesting: When food allergies are tested to raw food compared to cooked food, they are finding that some people react differently. Some will have a reaction to raw food, not cooked. Some people will have a reaction to cooked food and not raw.

Very interesting. There was an announcement from Dr. O’Brien that Cyrex is now offering a new food allergy panel that also tests raw versus cooked food. I really appreciate the information and really appreciate what Cyrex is doing. However, I’d like to give my position on this, which is a little bit different. I’m not a huge proponent of food allergy testing for a couple of reasons: I think the bottom line comes down to will this help you get healthier or will this be just an expensive test that doesn’t really help you at the end of the day?

This, to me, is the key issue.

There are lots of tests that sound really attractive. But, as someone who is in the clinic every week working with these things, over the years I’ve gotten a pretty good sense about what works and where we might want to save money. So, while I respect the opinion of my colleagues that might be different on this issue, I want to provide you with my position so that between myself and my colleagues, we can help you find a path that is going to work best for you.

When you consider that this food allergy test is just under $1,000, I do not consider this to be a good investment. There are a few reasons why: I think, and this is based upon my own personal and clinical experience, the best way to determine if you have a food allergy is to eliminate a food and then reintroduce it. The reason I say this is multiple: 1. After running food allergy tests on myself and my patients, I don’t always find that the food allergy testing will tell us anything that we don’t already know; or, it will tell us someone can’t eat a food that the person already knows they tolerate fine, and even in some cases, the allergy test will say they can eat this food the person knows they have a bad reaction to that food.

This study shed some light on why that might be. It might be an issue that the food allergy test was looking for raw food allergies and the person notices he can’t tolerate that food, but they can’t tolerate the cooked food, OK?

So, trying to figure out what foods you can’t eat based on food allergy testing is going to be an extremely expensive endeavor. And right now, I don’t think the science is there. This is because the food allergy testing, in my experience, doesn’t always match with the patient’s presentation. Not only this, there are multiple ways, as this study is shedding light on, that we can test for food allergies – there are IGG, A, M,. There are also other fractions of the immunoglobulin which are not often mentioned. And there is also white blood cell reactivity. And now we are learning it is cook versus raw.

In addition to that, there are components of foods that can cause reactivity that are non-allergy mediated. Things like oxalates, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, (and) has been correlated with joint pain, just as one example, or kidney stones; that has to do partially with the amount of oxilte-degrading bacteria you have in your gut. There is also histamine, which is a compound in food that can cause brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, rashing, and hives in some people.

So, there are multiple things. There is also the fodmap content, the prebiotic content of foods, which, for some people, will cause them to have gas, bloating, loose stools, constipation, and diarrhea and they may be feeding an underlying small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

So, for all these reasons, I really would not recommend going and spending nearlt $1,000 on food allergy testing. Because my fear for you is that it’s not going to help you get any healthier.

But, maybe some practical things that you can do, and I’ve listed them here in the slide:
New Food Allergy Testing - Screen Shot 2015 05 15 at 1.26

The first thing you can do is try a diet that we know removes some of the most common food allergens, like paleo or autoimmune paleo. Give that a 30-day trial. Now, some other diets you may want to consider should that not work is the SCD, or specific carbohydrate diet, or the low fodmap diet. And, both of those help for different reasons, (and) I won’t go into those reasons right now. But those are two other diets that you might want to try. These won’t cost you anything, and they’ll probably help you eat some different foods, learn some stuff about foods that probably didn’t know previously. This would be a good investment I would consider.

Also, if you’re not sleeping enough, and you’re overly stressed, you definitely want to address those issues. These are free and fundamental issues important for your health that are going to be, again, in my opinion, vastly more important than spending near $1,000 on a list of foods you should and should not eat, which, again, is of questionable utility.

Second to that, try supplementing periodically or for a short term some probiotics or with some digestive enzymes and see if that helps.

And then thirdly, if you’re still not feeling better, the best investment in my opinion at this point is to invest, or undergo an investigation, with a skilled functional medicine provider to deterimine what is causing your inderlying problems. Because, if you have multiple food allergies, for example, if you are what is called pan-allergic, that can be an indicator of leaky gut. And so, the question now is not how can you make your life a living hell by avoiding every food under the sun, but how can you figure out what is causing leaky gut so that gut can recover, so that these food allergies start to go away.

And lastly, listen to your body. If you listen to your body, you will be able to figure, irrespective of the test or the mechanism, what foods work for you and what foods don’t work for you. This is really teaching someone how to fish rather than giving someone a fish.

In brief, I’d like to share with you my experience. I’ve noticed that if I sauté kale, I get brain fog. I don’t know why. I’ve noticed this numerous times. And now I don’t sauté kale. I will do it raw, or maybe in a salad, or I’ll do it steamed. But I don’t sauté it.

I’ve noticed this. I don’t need a food allergy test. I don’t need to spend a $1,000 to figure this out. This is just something, as a good health practice, you should be listening to how you feel after you eat certain foods. And with time, you will weed out what foods work for you and what foods don’t work for you.

That being said, if you feel like you feel bad all of the time, then something is probably wrong, given that you’re eating a half-way decent diet like I mentioned before. If you are still feeling really terrible as I once was, there’s probably something happening in your gut that is causing you to have leaky gut and causing you to have multiple food allergies. That will need to be investigated and remedied for you to really recover.

So, again, my position on this issue – and it’s not to take counterpoint to some of my colleagues, but to hopefully help you find the road to recover that will be the most efficient and most cost-effective.

OK. This is Dr. Ruscio and I hope this helps.


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