Practitioners utilize high-powered equipment to examine the plasma (the liquid component of blood) and gather data. From this data, we analyze how it relates to your food allergy and sensitivities.
We've all heard people talking about having ‘allergies’ or ‘sensitivities’ as it’s quite a common thing in the modern age, but the true definition of what they are and the difference between them is confused or misunderstood. In the Lifelab laboratory, our analysts use The Allergy Line Test, which is an enzyme immunoassay for in-vitro testing. There are two distinct areas of testing we carry out in our laboratory; IgE, for allergies and IgG4, for sensitivities.
A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response. When your body reacts like this, it is called an allergic reaction, and this immune response occurs because the immune system attacks proteins in the food which are normally harmless. The items that trigger these reactions are called allergens. (Food Allergy, 2018)
Essentially this means that the body is reacting to something it comes into contact with via breathing, ingesting or touching. The body perceives this substance, to be a ‘threat’ and produces an inappropriate response, aka, an allergy symptom.
The physiological response to a threatening substance is for the body’s immune system to produce antibodies, antibodies are produced by a type of white blood cell called a B cell. When B cells become activated, because the body is responding to a ‘threat’ or antigen, they develop into plasma cells. Plasma cells create antibodies that are specific to an antigen. The type of antibody produced in an allergic response is IgE, these are found mostly in saliva and mucus.
To put this into context, you may have eaten a food, touched an item or inhaled a substance, (say pollen) that would ordinarily be harmless. The body has mistakenly identified the substance as a threat and produced antibodies. The next time you come to interact with the items again, you experience allergic symptoms. These symptoms can be as mild as a runny nose and severe as anaphylactic shock.
According to AAAAI, a food sensitivity occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food. This can lead to symptoms such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea.
The onset of food sensitivity symptoms tends to be slower and can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting a food, so they can be harder to detect. Common food sensitivities include lactose and histamine sensitivities, and these are triggered by a deficiency in the enzyme, which aids the breakdown of these substances.
There are a number of different types of gluten sensitivities. At Lifelab, we test immune-mediated gluten sensitivities through the identification of IgG4 antibodies. There are other possible causes of symptoms following the consumption of gluten; coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition and can be tested for via your Doctor. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity has no associated antibodies and does not damage the gut lining however does cause similar symptoms to that of coeliac disease. We do not test for gluten IgE allergy as in our experience this is rarely seen. It must be noted that gluten IgE allergy is not the same as coeliac disease. If you suspect you may have coeliac disease we strongly recommend you seek advice from your Doctor or other Health Professional.
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