I did a Food Intolerance Test (aka. Food Sensitivity Test) last year as I have been having painful GI symptoms for quite a while and I was tired of guessing what food makes me feel bad and what doesn’t. Also, I wasn’t pinned down on any specific disease or syndrome name by a conventional doctor. So I decided to take a deeper look at it through a Naturopath. At the time, I’ve done some quick online search on the topic to learn about how it works, but I have to admit that I was only scratching the surface and I wish I had done more research on users’ reviews. That said, I was definitely curious about what my the test results would show.
To be honest, I was shocked by how expensive the test was ($385 CAD for my 200 Antigen IgG test performed by Rocky Mountain Analytics, online search shows that it can be anywhere from $100-500). I still went ahead and try it partly because I like trying new things rather than just reading about them, and more so because it was the first time ever that I have extended healthcare benefits through my employer (I finally became a permanent employee last year after a few contracts, yay!)! I know a few people who don’t take full advantage of their employee health plan, I just want to say that your health is on your hand and that many people don’t have the luxury of having a sponsored health plan at all. So please, do yourself a favour! Just be cautious that this test may or may not be covered through your health plan provider, so please check before you order the test.
Convenience & Time
After discussing about the test with my Naturopath Doctor, I picked up the test kit at her office two days later as she didn’t have more test kits available at her office at the time (btw, you cannot order it online yourself, you would have to order it through a healthcare provider). The test kit contains an information pamphlet on how the test work and instructions on next steps. You take the test kit to a lab (LifeLabs in my case) to draw a blood sample, the lab then sends your blood sample to an analytical lab to run the analysis against a list of antigens. It took about 4 weeks for my results to come back after my blood sample was taken. Then I book an appointment with my ND to discuss the results the following week. So in my case, from ordering the test to receiving results took 5-6 weeks which I thought was a bit long (maybe I was just too anxious to see the results). However, I thought the process was straight forward and not too much hassle.
I was glad that before ordering the test, my ND did a good job on explaining how the test work and that sometimes when test results show there’s a long list of food items that you’re sensitive to, it can mean that you have a leaky gut, so all those food you consume recently would show on the list as they’re mal-absorbed by the gut. It might not necessarily mean that you’re sensitive to all those foods. Well, that was exactly what my test results show, a LONG list of food that I am sensitive to according to the blood test, most of which are what I ate recently.
You can see my results below – No shame on sharing it to the world!
- Elimination Diet
After discussing the results, my ND proposed a plan for me to heal my leaky gut (damaged gut lining) by avoiding the foods that may have caused my food sensitivity – this is called the Elimination Diet, and the plan is for me to try that for 4 weeks. I have to say it was not easy for me as all my staple food and favourite foods are on my elimination list.
OK I need to rant… I’m Asian. RICE showed up on my test result. I grew up eating rice, almost every single meal, now you’re telling me that may be what’s causing my gut problems? I also have a side hustle where I sell homemade cheesecakes and I of course like eating them – now you’re telling me I may be sensitive to EGG, DAIRY & WHEAT, basically all that goes into a cheesecake (minus the sugar)? YEAST was also in my list – no beer or wine for month? So now you see why I felt a bit repulsive about this elimination diet at first..
I did try my best to avoid those food that month, with a few exceptions – soy sauce uses wheat in its fermentation, I did not avoid that as I don’t use a big amount of it and it contains so much less wheat than let’s say pasta – you gotta pick your battle. I also did have a few drinks occasionally as good times call for celebration! Do what makes you feel good from time to time 🙂
- Discussing My Progress with ND
After the Elimination Diet, I discussed my progress with my ND – I actually thought I felt better, almost no heartburn, but still some bloating and gas, occasionally fatigue and headaches.
I think I did a pretty good job of trying to eliminate most things on that list (most of the time), probably because there’s accountability – I was eager to discuss my progress with the ND. I had many attempts of trying to eliminate dairy products but failed largely be cause I did not have that accountability.
- Reintroduction Diet
The next phase is the Reintroduction Diet. Basically I was asked to reintroduce foods that I tried to eliminate one by one, only bringing back one item at a time in a one-week period, and try to incorporate that food every day, so true symptoms can show (if you only eat trace amount of that food, it likely won’t cause you any obvious symptom unless you’re allergic to it). If you don’t have digestive problem with this food, then awesome, move on to another item; if you do show symptoms, document how you feel after you eat them then move on to the next item instead of finishing that week.
My strategy: Since I had a long list of food that I had to reintroduce, I only picked the ones that I eat most often so this process can be more manageable, otherwise it would be too long which can be discouraging when trying to maintain a new habit. (For example, I never drank goats milk which is on my list, so no point of wasting time to “re-“introduce it.)
- Discussing My Findings with ND
After the reintroduction diet which took me about 6-7 weeks, I set up another appointment with my ND to go over how I felt and what I learned. I made lots of notes on how I felt after eating certain foods – what symptoms I experienced and how long after I ate them did the symptoms show, and from a scale of 1-10 how bad I think my symptoms were. My ND was actually impressed by how much details I documented and how those can be really helpful in tackling my gut health issues. I also came up with a list of questions to ask her, one of which was that I felt I experienced more severe symptoms when I’m having my period, which makes me think that my gut issue could be influenced by hormonal balance. We talked briefly about that and I think it’s worth more researching on my end.
So What’s The Verdict?
All in all, I thought this test was interesting as I was trying to understand and manage my love-hate relationship with food better. I had been hearing about the test for a while at the time and it is still a pretty popular test today. However, there’re lots of mixed reviews online – some say it’s a myth or a marketing scheme, others say that it’s life-changing for them… Here’s a video from Marketplace by CBC News – Food Sensitivity Test – Science or Scam? More reads from Global News – Are Food Sensitivity Test Really Necessary? Here’s What Experts Say. Keep in mind that there’s always two sides of a coin…And there’re lots of angles to look at any topics.
I did find that some of the foods that show up on my result doesn’t seem to cause me any digestive problem. I found it helpful for me to go through this elimination and reintroduction process to find how I feel after eating some of those food so I can think twice before I decide to have a “cheat day” – Does it really worth it to have those symptoms later? Does it make me happier if I have that glass of wine when I was celebrating a milestone birthday with a friend? If yes, go ahead a drink it. There’s always a trade off, so again, pick your battle.
A Year After My Test
I’m still having bad digestive issues, perhaps because I “cheat” more than when I had to go through the Elimination and Reintroduction Diets. However I did manage to avoid Wheat and Dairy 75% of the time I’d say. Since I’m still not feeling good, I will have to dig a little deeper to resolve this issue, but I need to be patient! I can’t say that this test is not “effective”, because a test is a test, it only shows you what your blood shows, it doesn’t tell you the full picture of whether you have other underlying problems or why you have those problems, or how much you have improve or worsened (as it’s only sample taken at a snapshot of time).
Here’s my test result: