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In 2013, I visited two gastrointestinal specialists. I was experiencing some bloating, stomach pains, occasional gurgling noises, gas, and just general digestive discomfort. (Yes, I’m talking about this on a public blog. But it’s only in an effort to help you out!) I had done a LOT of self-experimentation, and I told the doctors that I thought the symptoms might be brought on by a seemingly random set of foods: dairy besides yogurt, spinach, almonds, and oranges on an empty stomach. I like to think I know my body very well, but the doctors basically said I was overreacting. One of them tested me for Celiac disease (negative!), and both told me there wasn’t a need to do anything unless it was severely impeding my life. It wasn’t, so I moved on.
However, I kept feeling less than my best, and had food intolerance testing in the back of my mind for a long time. I started buying mixed greens instead of plain spinach, limited my consumption of non-yogurt dairy, and didn’t eat oranges on an empty stomach. I felt a bit better, but not enough.
After a while, I finally bit the bullet and completed a blood draw for food intolerance testing, and honestly, the results blew me away. So much so that I decided to become a practitioner of the Alcat test (more on that at the end of the post).
Today, I want to share a bit about my experience. I’m going to cover five topics: what is a food intolerance*, why I chose Alcat for testing, my food intolerance results, what I’m going to do about it, and how to know if food intolerance testing is right for you.
Let’s first get some terminology straight. A food sensitivity can be either a food allergy, or a food intolerance.
A food allergy involves the immune system reacting to a protein in a given food. Food allergies are reproduced every single time you consume a food, and the reactions are usually immediate. Did you know that 90% of all food allergies are to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish? It’s true that food allergies are on the rise, but up to 1/3 of Americans say they have a food allergy, while the real number is about 4-5%.
A food intolerance does not involve the immune system, but does cause inflammation when white blood cells react to the ingested food. Intolerances can cause similar gastrointestinal results to food allergies, and are more likely to cause gas, stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, and headaches. Food intolerances can be difficult to diagnose without a blood test, because they may not be reproduced every single time a food is consumed, and the reactions can often be much more delayed than reactions to food allergies. There may not even be a noticeable reaction (like a stomach ache), but ingesting foods to which you are intolerant can cause things like fatigue, inability to gain or lose weight, migraines, irritability, skin conditions like acne and eczema, and more. You’ve probably heard of someone who is lactose intolerant or has Celiac disease, which are both intolerances. But did you know that up to 80% of Americans have at least one food intolerance?!
Why did I choose the Alcat Test?
There are several companies that offer food intolerance testing. However, what most of them test is the presence of IgG antibodies. I won’t go into detail about what those are, but basically, they are generated due to exposure, so they can be present if you have recently consumed a food (but have no intolerance to that food). That results in a LOT of false positives. The Alcat is the only test that measures the actual response of your white blood cells to a food (they literally buy organic versions of each food from grocery stores and introduce tiny extracts into your blood to observe the reaction of your white blood cells … cool, huh?), so you don’t have to worry about the false positives with IgG testing. I also liked that the Alcat test had so many options – depending on the package you choose, you can test up to 200 foods, 50 functional foods and medicinal herbs, 20 food additives and colorings, 10 environmental chemicals, 21 molds, and 20 antibiotics/ anti-inflammatory agents. Finally, the process was easy. I got my blood drawn by a mobile phlebotomist who came to my house (you can also go to a lab if you choose), and received the results within 5 business days. I had a phone consultation with a practitioner who explained my options and walked me through what my results meant.
My Food Intolerance Results
Remember what I told those gastrointestinal specialists? I already assumed that would have some sensitivities. However, I was shocked when my results came back with as many intolerances as they did. Check out my page below – the red and blue show my severe intolerances, orange shows moderate intolerance, yellow shows mild intolerance, and green are those foods that my body loves. WOW, right?!?
I won’t inundate you with my results for food additives/ colorings (my only reaction was to blue, green, and yellow coloring … so I guess it’s a good thing that I did all-natural green for St. Patrick’s Day this year!) or for functional foods/ medicinal herbs (many I hadn’t heard of, plus mild intolerances to acai, astragalus, chondroitin, goji, milk thistle, and noni).
What I’m going to do about it
Most adult food allergies never go away (kids often grow out of their allergies), but food intolerances are very likely to go away after a period of complete elimination. So, Alcat recommends (and has coached me in) a combination of elimination and rotation of the foods in the red, blue, orange, and yellow areas. If my symptoms were severely impeding my life, I would go full throttle and follow the protocol exactly. However – I’ll be honest – there are a LOT of foods on my list that make up a huge portion of my diet (and there’s evidence to show that this actually might be the problem, and that an intolerance may actually be brought on by eating too much of the particular food). I enjoy almonds (whole, butter, and milk!), blueberries, chickpeas, eggs, dairy, vanilla, tea, coffee, Brussels sprouts, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, ginger, onion, pumpkin, spinach, and tomato virtually every day, or at least multiple times per week. (I ate 14 of these 18 on the day I happened to count). If you add in the others that I enjoy slightly less frequently, the “intolerance” list comprises a very significant portion of my diet. And given that I’m not suffering that badly, I’ve decided not to eliminate these all at once.
Instead, here’s my plan. I will eliminate green peas, mustard, and oranges for 6 months, no questions asked. Of the remaining foods, I’ve created two groups, mostly of the blue and orange foods, plus some of the yellows that I know cause me discomfort. I will eliminate the first group for 3 months, then gradually add foods back in as I eliminate the second group for the next 3 months. It’s hard to explain my whole plan in a concise way, but it feels a LOT more feasible to me this way, and I’m actually excited to see the results in my body!
Edited to add: after following this protocol, my results were incredible – see more in this post! If you are eager for similar results, email me for pricing on the test, and I will be happy to guide you through the process!
Could you benefit from a food intolerance test?
I’m sure you’re thinking “well … I don’t ever feel ill after eating, but I guess I don’t feel great … and if 80% of the population has a sensitivity, then I wonder if I do, too … and I have been dealing with fatigue and headaches,” or something along those lines. If you’re interested, I’m happy to discuss options with you. Like I said, I am a practitioner of the Alcat test now. This means I order your test from the lab in Florida and coordinate with a phlebotomist in your area to handle your blood draw. Your results get sent to me from the Alcat lab, and I help you interpret them and develop a plan that is right for you. My fee includes a 1-to-1 consultation to help you interpret the results (but it’s still lower than the list price) and is available to anyone in the United States or Canada.
Of course, a lot of sensitivities can be identified just through self-experimentation and elimination, so this should be your first option (and I’m also happy to help you talk through that). As someone who is constantly experimenting on my own body, I feel validated that I was able to identify some of my triggers before the test, but there is no way I would have been able to identify all of these on my own.
Alcat recommends the test for people who are experiencing: digestion issues (constipation, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, nausea, etc.), migraines, skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc.), asthma, chronic fatigue, arthritis, infertility, hyperactivity, mood disorders, inability to lose weight, or basically anything that involves inflammation. A study at Baylor Sports Medicine and Performance Institute found that “98% of the subjects following the Alcat plan either lost weight or improved body composition.” <– Wow!
I would never promote something I don’t believe in, and I will absolutely NOT try to sell you on the Alcat test if I don’t think it’s right for you. But, if you think you could benefit from the testing, either send me an email or fill out a contact form on my Health Coaching page, and we can get you started ASAP.
So tell me in the comments … Have you ever done, or considered, a food intolerance test? Do you have any food allergies or intolerances that you know of?