Food Intolerance Tests Are a Joke

Companies promising results from blood tests for food sensitivities are misleading, allergists warn

If you’ve been told you suffer from "toxic food syndrome," have paid up the wazoo for blood tests for allergies, or had your muscles, hair, and “energy pathways” analyzed, a heads-up: Those allergy tests aren’t worth it.

That’s what allergists and gastroenterologists are now saying, as the number of Americans with food allergies now totals nearly 15 million. While companies promise results from blood tests and other tests, the only true test of allergies is an elimination method — eliminate the food from the diet, and slowly re-introduce it to test the body’s reaction.

But blood testing tests for a sensitivity or intolerance, says the Chicago Tribune. The problem is that most of these tests look for a certain antibody — Immunoglobulin G, or IgG — that actually shows exposure or tolerance to a food, not intolerance. Said Robert Wood, a John Hopkins chief of pediatric allergy and immunology, "There is no IgG testing of value… All of us make IgG to the foods we eat, and they are not related to disease, including food intolerance."

The true evil villain behind food allergies? The antibody Immunoglobulin E. That’s the one that causes the body’s immune system to overreact to a certain food with hives, vomiting, diarrhea, and other severe side effects. The difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivitiy is that allergies involve the immune system, while sensitivities do not; a sensitivity can be caused by enzyme deficiencies or sensitivity to food additives.

While some people have felt relief after certain tests and alternative choices — one man eliminated 33 foods from his diet after a chiropractor’s test and found significant results — some say that’s best to work with a dietitian instead of paying for costly tests that may not show any allergies.