Today was a hard day. Ethan and I learned the results of our ALCAT testing, and I’m still processing. There may have been a panic attack and lots of heartburn involved, and my heart hurts for the changes that my boy is going to be making over the next week.
After a few years of just feeling like crap without real answers, I knew I needed to get tested–so for me, this test was a no-brainer. Little man had several symptoms that just didn’t go away, even while we were avoiding dairy–which we’ve known to be a trigger for him since he was a newborn. His symptoms have been escalating, and after his pediatrician refused to refer us to an allergist a couple of months ago (told us there was no indication he needed to be tested), I took matters into my own hands and found a practitioner who would refer us for ALCAT testing. (This isn’t a sponsored post–just explaining what ALCAT testing is, since many posts going forward will be focused on our results and how we’re processing them).
ALCAT is the gold standard of IgG blood tests for food sensitivities. It doesn’t test for true food allergies (for example, things that would require an epi-pen or allergy shots), but instead tests for delayed sensitivities to specific foods and environmental substances. The company offers several panels, and we elected to test:
- 200 foods (both of us)
- 50 functional foods & herbal medicines (me)
- 50 female herbs (me)
- 20 molds (both of us)
- 20 food additives & colorings (both of us)
- 10 environmental chemicals (both of us)
The test requires a blood draw at a private lab, which is included in the cost of the test, and then the blood is overnighted to the lab in Florida where the testing is completed. We had our results back in three weeks.
The results are broken down into several categories when you get them back:
- Severe intolerance
- Moderate intolerance
- Mild intolerance
- Acceptable foods
- Candida albicans reaction
- Gluten/Gliadin sensitivity
- Whey/Casein sensitivity
For foods listed in the severe intolerance category, the lab recommends avoiding these foods at all costs. For moderate intolerance, the lab recommends avoiding for 3-6 months, with 6+ months as the best practice, re-introducing these foods one at a time after the mild intolerance foods have been brought back into the diet successfully. For mild intolerance, the lab recommends avoiding for 3-6 months, with 6 months as the best practice, and then re-introducing these foods one at a time on a rotation schedule. Acceptable foods are foods that make up the bulk of the diet for the next 6+ months.
The lab also includes three specific sections in the results, which indicate a reaction or no reaction to candida, gluten/gliadin, and whey/casein. If there’s a reaction, these sections indicate which foods to avoid, and the severity of the reaction.
In addition to the food-based results, reaction results are provided on a separate chart for the additional non-food panels that were run.
Thankfully, the lab is really thorough, and in addition to these awesome color-coded results pages, they include with each set of results:
- Pocket-sized results card that lists foods to avoid;
- 4-day food rotation plan to minimize creating additional sensitivities;
- Detailed information on each food to avoid (including common cross-reactive foods, and derivatives for each food, plus instruction on how to re-introduce each food into the rotational food plan).
- A very detailed booklet on understanding your test results.
It’s all a lot to process. Really, it would have been a lot to process for just one person. I’m processing for two people, and we happen to be two people with very different results. I’ll get more into the specifics and the green-light foods we share in my next post–but so far, aside from the stress of figuring out what we’re going to be eating for the next six months, I’m actually really relieved to have some answers. The answers we received aren’t easy and won’t be easy–but we finally have a place to start, and I’m hopeful this is a major step toward healing us both.