Testing for Food Allergies and Gluten Intolerance
Now that you know a little more about gluten and wheat reactions, you may be wondering if you have a problem with wheat and/or gluten. There are several ways of testing for food allergies and gluten reactions.
Food Allergy Testing
The best tests for food allergies are blood tests called Elisa IgG and IgE tests. I use three different labs for food allergy testing: Genova Labs, Meridian Valley Labs and ALCAT offering different food allergen profiles. Meridian Valley offers a finger prick test that can be performed at home and then mailed to the lab testing 50 of the most common food allergies; Genova’s main food allergy profile has 100 foods which can be added to and ALCAT offers up to 200 food tests with many additional add on profiles available.
Though blood tests for food allergies have dramatically improved over the areas, the gold standard for food sensitivity testing is still the food elimination diet. The food elimination diet is a hypoallergenic diet consisting of simple, whole foods that are well tolerated by most people. This diet is followed for 2-4 weeks then foods are reintroduced one at a time while monitoring for food reactions such as sinus or upper respiratory congestion, change in bowel movements, headaches, skin rashes, etc. This is still my preference for testing for gluten intolerance.
Gluten Intolerance Testing
Testing for gluten intolerance has also come a long way. There are many blood tests designed to pick up gluten reactions but to date the hype of new testing has not lived up to its promise. I was really excited when the tests for tissue transglutaminase were added to anti-gliadin antibody testing; we thought we had a definitive test for gluten intolerance but after seeing many false negatives (tests showing no reaction to gluten while patients had symptoms with gluten ingestion) we know that this test also has its limitations. The definitive test for gluten intolerance or celiac disease is still a biopsy taken from the intestinal tract but this invasive procedure is often not warranted due to its cost, discomfort and risk.
Gluten Free Resources
It was once a lonely road when dealing with gluten intolerance in this country. Doctors in the western world were mainly unaware of gluten intolerance and did not realize the signs and symptoms of food allergies or gluten reactions. Parents looking for answers to their children’s health issues were the driving force in discovering more about food allergies, gluten intolerance and how to live without wheat. Once you decide to experiment with removing wheat and/or gluten from your diet, you begin to see that wheat is everywhere! It is used as a thickener, a base, an additive as well as a main ingredient in many foods.
Today there is a wealth of information and resources for those living wheat or gluten free. It still may not be easy to eat out or shop at a chain grocery store, but there are cookbooks, websites, blogs, grocery stores and restaurants catering to those GF and WF. Enjoy!
*News flash* There are some new enzymes out on the market that help speed the digestion of gluten. I have been keeping my eye out for these for years and they are now becoming widely available. When you are eating out or traveling or decide to splurge and have that piece of chocolate cake or bread, there is help! I like Innate and Seroyal’s gluten enzymes and they work well! Let us know if you cannot find them over the counter and we can special order them for you.
Books and Cookbooks
The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam
Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts
Going Against the Grain by Melissa Smith
Websites and Blogs
any many, many more!
You can also search the web for GF restaurants and check out your local health food stores for the gluten free aisle; even some chain grocery stores have a gluten free section.