What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is when your immune system reacts to certain foods. Your body makes IgE antibodies to these foods. Food allergies can very serious: reactions include hives, sneezing, angioedema or swelling . Food allergies can also trigger anaphylaxis, which can lead to trouble breathing and can be life-threatening. Common foods that make up most food allergies are: cow’s milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat. There are several validated tests accepted for the evaluation of food allergies however ALCAT testing is not one of them. If you have concerns regarding a food allergy, you should be evaluated by an allergy specialist.
What is a food intolerance?
Food intolerance is when your body lacks a particular enzyme to optimally digest a certain food. For example people who are lactose intolerant lack an enzyme to optimally digest milk proteins. They may experience bloating or GI upset if they consume dairy. These effects are uncomfortable, but typically neither dangerous nor life threatening.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an inflammatory disease of the bowel, the inflammation is caused by a reaction to gluten in certain individuals affected by celiac disease. Symptoms of celiac disease include recurrent diarrhea, unexpected weight loss, abdominal pain and bloating. There is a blood test to screen for celiac disease however celiac disease is only diagnosed by a small bowel biopsy, a procedure performed by a gastroenterologist. ALCAT testing does not screen for celiac disease.
What is ALCAT testing?
ALCAT is a commercial test that is an antigen leukocyte antibody test. It looks at change in distribution of cell sizes after food challenges. It is NOT an allergy test. It is not clinically proven and does not indicate a food allergy or intolerance. IgE antibodies are the antibodies your body makes for an allergic reaction and these are not tested by ALCAT testing.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology considers ALCAT testing one of several unproven tests available on the market. ALCAT testing has not been proven to be reliable in establishing a food allergy. Most patients who complete ALCAT testing will test “positive” for one or more triggers. However, a positive test does not mean that you are allergic to a certain food or that you “can’t have” a certain food. ALCAT testing remains an available test with no proven clinical relevance or benefit. The test does not indicate a food allergy and eliminating the foods with a positive test result has not been scientifically proven to improve symptoms. You can always choose to eat the foods that help you feel your best. If you are curious we do offer ALCAT testing.