Natural medicines for general health and thyroid health with degree qualified Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist

Understanding Food Allergies and Intolerances

Should I test for Food allergies and intolerances?

First let’s take a look at the difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies are immediate hypersensitivity reactions to certain foods via IgE antibodies (a type of protein that stimulates degranulation of mast cells triggering a histamine reaction). This type 1 hypersensitivity response may cause a rash, sneezing, bronchoconstriction or difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

Chicken, corn, dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat are the most common food allergens for overt food allergy. Skin prick testing can identify type 1 hypersensitivity IgE mediated food allergies and can be carried out under medicare with your GP.

Food intolerances are a type 3 delayed hypersensitivity reaction to certain food proteins via IgG antibodies. The symptoms are due to inflammation from immune complexes formed and delivered to various body tissues. Symptoms may occur over days and are a delayed reaction from ingestion of particular foods. Identifying which foods you are intolerant to can be difficult to pin point without testing, often the foods you crave are the culprit!

You can be intolerant to foods if you have a deficiency or defective enzyme such as lactose intolerance, reactive to a chemical such as amines in chocolate or wine, or an IgG reaction which is the one we will focus on here today.

IgG antibodies have been suggested to cause intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) which also contributes to the formation of more IgG antibodies or food intolerance reactions. In other word’s leaky gut causes food intolerances and food intolerances cause leaky gut.

Food intolerance symptoms are numerous and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • IBS, diarrhoea, constipation
  • Bloating and pain
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Eczema
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Asthma
  • Joint pain and fibromyalgia
  • Runny nose
  • Arthritis
  • Tinnitus
  • Sinusitis

So how do I know whether I should test for food intolerances?

Well let’s have a brief look at the strengths and limitations of food intolerance testing.

We want to understand how accurate, reliable and reproducible food intolerance testing is. The test we offer in clinic is the ELISA method of testing. The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) matches the presence of IgG antibodies in serum and research shows evidence for effectiveness with the weight of the research performed in IBS patients following elimination diets based on the results of the food intolerance test. There is supportive evidence for the use of food intolerance testing in IBS patients with improved symptomatology following an elimination diet for a period of time.

A randomised controlled trial found improvement to the frequency of headaches after 4 weeks on the elimination diet after the ELISA testing although the improvement was not sustained after 12 weeks on the elimination diet. Self-reported compliance to the diet may have been a limitation to the study.

Another double-blind randomised cross over trial found reduced frequency of migraines following an elimination diet as dictated by individualised IgG intolerance testing. This study went for 6 weeks and supports IgG testing for in patients with migraines.

Allergy dermatosis including allergic dermatitis, urticaria (hives) and eczema were strongly associated with IgG antibody mediated hypersensitivity responses. IgG reactions are thought to both cause allergy dermatosis as well as be a resultant symptom of IgG responses to food allergens.

Testing against raw or cooked food antigens does matter. Overall there is some mixed research on the topic of testing and this could be in part due to the majority of laboratories using raw food antigens. We offer testing based on a real life reflection of diet combining cooked and raw foods.

You can find more information at

We offer discounted rates for testing at practitioner pricing. If you think you could benefit from this test make an appointment today don’t wait!

Written by your Australia wide naturopath servicing Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin, Perth, Glen Innes and the New England area, Inverell, Armidale, Emmaville, Uralla, Surry Hills or where ever you are travelling from with online skype consults available.

Disclaimer: Information you read here is educational only and does not substitute personal advice from a health care practitioner. For personal health advice please arrange an appointment with our degree qualified naturopath.


Alpay, K. Ertas, M. Orhan, E. Ustay, D. Lieners, C. & Baykan, B. 2010, Diet restriction in migraine, based on IgG against foods: A clinical double-blind, randomised, cross-over trial, Cephalalgia – An international journal of headache, vol.30, no.7, pp.829-837.

Hardman, G. & Hart, G. 2017, Dietary advice based on food specific IgG results, University of York, UK Nutrition and food science, vol.31, no.1, pp.16-23.

Hodsdon, W. & Zwickey, H. 2010, Reproducibility and Reliability of Two Food Allergy Testing Methods, Natural Medicine Journal, vol.2, no.3, pp.8-12.

Mitchell, N. Hewitt, C. Jayakody, S. Islam, M. Adamson, J. Watt, I. & Torgerson, D. 2011, Randomised controlled trial of food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies for the prevention of migraine like headaches, Nutrition Journal, vol.10, no.85

Mullin, G. Swift, K. Lipski, L. Turnbull, L. & Rampertab, D. 2010, Testing for food reactions: The good the bad and the ugly, Nutrition in Clinical Practice, pp.192-198.

Vickery, B. Chin, S. & Burks, W. 2011, Pathophysiology of food allergy, Paediatrics Clinic North America, vol.58, no.2, pp.363-376

Vojdani, A. 2009, Detection of IgE, IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies against raw and processed food antigens, Nutrition and Metabolism, vol.6, no.22, pp.1-17.

Yin’e, H. Shufang, D. Bin, W. Wei, Q. Junling, G. & Ashraf, M. 2015, Analysis of the relations between specific IgG antibody and allergic dermatosis of 14 kinds of foods, Degruyter Open, vol.10, no.1515

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