It’s no secret that food sensitivity testing is a useful tool that can give you vital information about your health. Nevertheless, one of the most common questions we get asked is regarding how to interpret your results.
According to Notch Medical Advisor Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., next steps are going to be completely dependent on the person, their symptoms and their current diet.
“Everything is relative when it comes to food sensitivities,” Meletis says. For example, those who maintain a strict diet might experience different or more dramatic symptoms than those who eat a more diverse diet or more processed foods, he says. “That perspective is really important.”
Understanding the Basics
Our food sensitivity tests measure the IgG reactivity in your blood on a scale from zero (low) to four (high). Your results will include a detailed breakdown of your antibody levels to each individual ingredient. While the first half of your report provides this simple scale for you to get an idea of where you stand with each ingredient, the second half breaks down your reactivity by value (mg/L) and where that falls among the reaction classes.
In summary, antibody production is generally the result of either overeating a specific food (“earned” sensitivities) or genetic predispositions (“fixed” sensitivities). While our food sensitivity tests provide you with an overview of your antibody production to specific ingredients, they’re most often used in conjunction with an elimination diet and are not intended to diagnose or treat medical issues.
Taking a Personalized Approach
When it comes to incorporating your results into your daily life, Meletis says, it’s most important to listen to your body and monitor your symptoms in accordance with any changes to your diet.
“It really depends on your commitment level,” he says. “If you’re all in, it might be worth limiting or eliminating all your high scores for a month to see how you feel.”
However, he says, a lot depends on your average reaction score. While some people will have extremely low scores, others might have results that are limited to only moderate and high scores.
“Each person is different, so you first need to figure out what kind of responder you are,” he says.
For the individuals with average scores that are higher on the reactivity scale, he says, it’s better to focus on the lowest scoring foods to get an idea of what you should be eating instead of focusing on what you should be eliminating.
“You can’t just tell those people that they need to avoid all threes and fours,” he says. “You have to pick the least common denominator and start there.”
Key Tips to Get Started:
Utilize the Personal Rotation Diet Guideline.
Your test results contain a customized Personal Rotation Diet Guideline that serves as a great starting point for understanding which ingredients to swap out. The concept behind rotation-style elimination diets is to encourage nutritional diversification while eliminating your most reactive foods and rotating in foods that were lower on the reactivity scale.
"The goal is to eliminate potentially burdensome foods while still getting all the calories and nutrients you need," Meletis says.
Continue to avoid IgE allergies.
Before eliminating or re-introducing certain foods, it’s extremely important to understand the difference between allergies and sensitivities. In summary, true “allergies” are IgE driven, resulting in symptoms such as swelling, hives and anaphylaxis, while IgG-mediated responses – also known as “sensitivities” – generally produce delayed, GI-related symptoms.
“IgE will always win that battle,” Meletis says. “Food sensitivities are just something to measure on top of that.”
Consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner.
While we can provide guidance on what food sensitivities might look like for a broad audience, we can’t provide the personal insight or expertise that you would receive from a physician or registered dietitian. In order to come up with a plan that works best for you, your body and your dietary preferences, it’s best to consult with a trusted healthcare practitioner on next steps.
In summary, food sensitivities can be tricky to interpret, as symptoms to reactive foods can vary dramatically from person to person. While there are great resources available – such as our elimination diet guidelines and custom food journals – it's up to you to follow your gut and ultimately make the decisions that help you optimize your health.