Warning: This is a long post
The test my naturopath gave me was an IgG ELISA Fingerstick test. There’s a lot of mixed reviews out there for food sensitivity tests. Some say there’s no real way to find out if you have a sensitivity to a food because it’s not as strong of a reaction as an allergy. Don’t quote me on any of this. I just was trying to decipher my new diagnosis and trying to learn more about it.
From what I understood, at the time, a food allergy could cause a severe reaction. Think of someone having a nut allergy and eats a peanut M&M and then goes in to anaphylactic shock. Then a food sensitivity or intolerance (as some people like to use that term) is something less severe. You might develop a skin rash (like I did) or experience headaches, nausea, tiredness, or a whole bunch of other symptoms.
With me and dairy, I’d get a reaction the next day. It wasn’t immediate so I knew it wasn’t an allergy (in the strictest sense of the term). For example, I’d have a bowl of cereal (before I went vegan), and then the next morning I’d develop a horribly itchy rash.
In January 2015, I was vegan at this point, I’d get sick after eating certain foods. It would take about two hours for the symptoms to develop, so this wasn’t a sensitivity or intolerance. (Side note: If I accidentally eat something that I’m allergic to now, I’ll get an immediate reaction.) This was something much more than that if it took two hours to manifest. Usually my evenings went as follows: have supper, tag team putting the little one to bed, and then go to the gym. I couldn’t do that for 2.5 months. Two hours after I ate, I’d get nauseous and feel like I was drunk. Sometimes the symptoms would manifest in less than two hours! I’d feel nauseous all night. I REALLY hated feeling that way because I just wanted to vomit and get it over with. Sadly, that relief never came.
I felt that way for months and went to my family doctor. He couldn’t come up with anything and at times didn’t seem to be interested. I even thought he thought I was a hypochondriac and was just making stuff up. So, I went to a naturopath. My naturopath was VERY understanding, he listened, and he explained everything to me so I would understand. He even drew pictures!
The test he gave me tested me against 184 different foods. I was REALLY nervous while waiting for the results. I had taken wheat out from my diet because I had a feeling that was what was making me sick. I wanted to know what was definitely making me sick. I wanted concrete answers. I wanted to know I wasn’t crazy because it seemed like every time I went to my family doctor I’d hit a brick wall. Plus, I was convinced he thought I was crazy. I was also pretty sure the Hubs was getting tired of hearing me say I was feeling sick all the time. I missed social events and I felt SO bad. I knew people thought I was just saying I was sick to get out of going. And that was FAR from the truth.
The results I got were not what I was expecting at all. On the two-page print out, there were a lot of red that was highlighted. The foods you’re sensitive to show up in red and have an asterisk to indicate the severity. Out of the 184 foods I was tested against, I couldn’t have the following:
- Almond (I’d have almond milk with my gluten-free cereal)
- Green Bean
- Lima Bean
- Pinto Bean
- Cashew (cashews are used in a variety of vegan recipes)
- Egg Yolk
- Flaxseed (I used ground flaxseed as an egg substitute)
- Lentil (lentils were something I used to eat a lot of)
- White Potato
- Brown Rice
- Soybeans (that was hard to eliminate because soy is in EVERYTHING!)
- Black Tea
- Baker’s Yeast
- Brewer’s Yeast
Some of the foods you might think are odd to have flagged like almond and Haddock. I felt the same way and asked him about it. He said when they’re stacked with each other, then I’d most likely have a reaction (if I had a Haddock dinner with dill, parsley, and oregano).
On my results, Wheat and Brewer’s Yeast had two asterisks next to them. I could deal with a lot of the foods on the list like cola because I hadn’t had coke in years. Licorice I never liked. Coffee is my choice of caffeine. Wheat had already been eliminated from my diet. However, foods like almond, cashew, flaxseed, lentil, and soybean were a HUGE part of my plant-based diet. Brewer’s yeast was a monster on its own.
I had to eliminate all of my highlighted foods for 4-6 weeks and then reintroduce them one by one three times a day to see if I continued to have a reaction.
But before I get into that, my naturopath said because I had so many red flags on my results I had leaky gut syndrome. It sounded horrible. I had never heard of that before! It sounded like your rear end would be leaking something all the time. My naturopath explained that the lining of my intestine had become so thin and the junctions in my intestine had become compromised. Because of that, particles are getting through to my bloodstream that aren’t supposed to.
I was given BetainePlus, Glutamine, and a probiotic. The Betaine was supposed to help with my stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL) break down stuff before it reaches my intestine. The Glutamine helped to heal and sooth my intestine. And we all know probiotics are healthy, beneficial bacteria for your intestines.
My biggest problem was going to be the Brewer’s Yeast. It’s usually used in the process of making beer and wine. I hadn’t had beer in a while (and I missed my Guinness), but I do love my wine. It was a trial-and-error process to find out which wines made me sick and which ones didn’t.
Because of the nutritional properties of Brewer’s Yeast, it’s used as a medium to grow B vitamins. At the time I was taking a vitamin supplement, so I had to contact that company to see how they got their B vitamins.
Many common foods that contain Brewer’s Yeast and Baker’s Yeast (other than baked goods) or wild strains of yeast are: blueberries, blackberries, cider, gingerale, grapes, jams and jellies, MSG (y’all know y’all shouldn’t be consuming this anyway), mushrooms, aged meats, black tea, root beer, strawberries, and tempeh. So, I then understood why some foods were highlighted on my results.
I also couldn’t (and to some degree still can’t) have anything that went through a fermentation process: vinegar, alcohol, bean paste, soy sauce (which includes tamari), mustard, and my beloved ketchup.
Also, citric acid is something that’s fermented. When you see it on the ingredient list, you’d think that it comes from citrus juice. It used to but now it’s from fermented corn. Have you ever seen “flavor enhancer” on the list? It’s usually MSG but it could also be from a yeast extract. We’ve all seen “lactic acid” in the ingredient list too. When I see it, I immediately think of muscle and the build up of lactic acid that makes you legs sore. But this ingredient is usually made from fermented corn or potatoes.
I had to eliminate A LOT of stuff from my diet. It was a LONG process and it was hard, but I did it. I felt better afterwards though. I knew which foods to avoid and as a result I felt better, I wasn’t sick, my sick cleared up, and I wasn’t bloated. In all honesty, I don’t miss the foods that I can’t have anymore like almonds. Sometimes I’ll cheat and have some kind of Italian food with oregano in it. Other times it’s just down right VERY hard to avoid my triggers at all. Some of my trigger foods are in everything! I ended up making a lot of my own foods at that point (like vegetable broth). I just couldn’t trust the labeling of “spices” and other vague terms.
So, I’ll close with I’m VERY glad I went to a naturopath. Having the vindication from my naturopath and all the research I had to do made me more interested in what my naturopath did to get where he is. I found the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in my research and put it off for about a year. Now, I’ve taken the plunge and have enrolled. I’m glad I made the decision to do so. Hopefully one day I can give someone else the vindication they’re looking for like I did.