IgG and Me
IgG tests. Have you heard of them? If you have food sensitivities, you probably have. Either way, I’m about to share what they are and my experiences with two kinds.
An IgG test is an immunoglobulin test. Its purpose is to measure the level of certain immunoglobulins, or antibodies, in the blood. The immune system makes proteins called antibodies to fight off bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The body makes different immunoglobulins to combat different antigens.
When you ingest food, your body breaks it down via digestion with the help of enzymes and other fun stuff and provides fuel to the necessary body parts from the nutrients in the food. Sometimes, your body doesn’t recognize certain processed foods as something beneficial, and reacts with an immune response- fighting off this unknown “invader”. Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies can treat even healthy foods as foreign objects and therefore invite that same immune response to something considered healthy.
How do you find out what your body reacts to? You can do an extensive and very strict elimination diet. This starts with drinking plain homemade bone broth and introducing one food at a time and waiting 3 days in between introducing a new food. This has a couple of issues. 1. Many people don’t have the patience or motivation to take this extreme diet on. 2. Sometimes your body takes a little longer to react to something.
Speaking to number 2 above brings me to the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity. Your body reacts to a food you are allergic to immediately. This can manifest in different ways, some being rash, difficulty breathing, etc. A food sensitivity can have a delayed reaction or can be fairly immediate, but it won’t necessarily send you to the hospital or the like. That being said, with continual use of a foreign food to your body, you can be doing long term damage. Leaky gut, skin issues, joint pain, dizziness, brain fog, IBS symptoms, discomfort, seizures…etc are some reactions that your body can have and over time, can lead to an autoimmune disorder.
So where do IgG tests come in? Well, good news! You can easily find out which specific foods, healthy and unhealthy, your body reacts poorly to. I first took an IgG test through Immunolabs via my Naturopathic Doctor. This was almost 4 years ago and before that, I was a healthy eater by most people’s standards. I had been a vegan (for my health, for the planet, for the animals) for 6 years. I reintroduced meat when I was pregnant with my first baby because I felt my body was asking for it. I worked at Whole Foods Market and was educated about food and its origins and being responsible for the planet and farmers etc. I ate and drank organic and grass fed this and that 95% of the time. I had a very healthy pregnancy and birth and I breastfeed easily for 33 months. Most people would have considered me very healthy.
But for some reason, my health “started” declining about a year after my first baby was born. I say started in quotes because it probably had been on the slow decline for a long time, but it finally started being more apparent to me. I was fairly in tune with my body and because I wasn’t treating symptoms with over the counter medication, I was noticing discomfort, fatigue, brain fog, etc. All things that sound pretty normal for being pregnant or an overtired mama of a baby, right? Sure, it could definitely have passed as that. But then I had a seizure.
One night, a few weeks after moving into our first house, and my little one was 13 months old, I woke up in an ambulance. I had no idea what was happening or why all my new neighbors were staring at me. Apparently, I had had a seizure and my husband texted or called my friend and my sister who are both nurses. My friend tends to air on the side of caution and insisted my husband call an ambulance. I was still completely out of it as I was being escorted to the hospital. My husband had to wake up the baby and they were following us in the car. I didn’t have many answers for the EMTs except for that I had experienced a random seizure before back in college one time after a day of heavy drinking in 98 degree heat. Oh, which dots to connect?….
I received all the tests and went to all the doctors and specialists and had a few more seizures over the next few months. When the Hopkins specialist and another neurologist deemed me as not having a seizure disorder and not needing to go on medication, I took my confused butt to the Naturopath to try to get to the bottom of this. He eventually guided me to get more tests of a different nature. One test included the IgG test by Immunolabs. He ordered the Bloodprint 88 for me and once I found out all of my different results from all the things, we would come up with a game plan. I was tested for SIBO, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine where it doesn’t belong. I was tested for candida, a yeast overgrowth, and so much more.
Upon on receiving my results from Immunolabs, I discovered that I had food sensitivities to everything. Not everything, but oh how that list was extensive.
My reactive test results lists the things my body was attacking as foreign invaders, or responding badly to. A lot of them were healthy things. Why? I was feeling slightly overwhelmed, but also determined to heal and figure all of this out. I was instructed to not eat these foods for at least 90 days. Wheat and gluten showed up on my list. Even if it hadn’t, with my issues, I was advised to take it out of my diet permanently. It takes 6 months for gluten to completely be out of your system once eliminated, so I might not see full results until then. I had been vegan for 6 years. I lived without meat, dairy, eggs, certain alcohols, dyes, honey and more. I could do this. Bring it on, life.
In addition to avoiding my list of reactive foods, I had also been advised to avoid the other major inflammatory foods such as soy and peanuts, which I also reacted to, corn and dairy even though they didn’t show up in the test results, and caffeine. So three years went by. I never had gluten. I never had caffeine. I tried to avoid soy for a long time, even though it’s in “everything”, especially all my favorite chocolate products. I eventually got more lazy with that one, even though it hurt my digestive system when I ate it and I always regretted it after. I avoided eggs because I was finally able to pinpoint that they were making me feel dizzy. I had motivation to avoid caffeine as I know it can trigger seizures and I was terrified of having another one even though I was deemed as not having a disorder. But I didn’t have answers. Why did I have a few seizures? Why did I have one back in college? I had given up caffeine while pregnant, and I knew I shouldn’t have a lot while breastfeeding anyway. But almonds and coconut? All the healthy people eat those. What am I supposed to eat if I can’t have have gluten or amaranth or soy or eggs or coconut or almond or beets or or or….
Well, I avoided the whole list to the best of my ability for a year and then I started reintroducing some things. Some were fine and some I couldn’t tell and some were still causing various negative physical reactions. I had another healthy baby after trying for a year to conceive. (More on that in another post.) I successfully and easily breastfed. I felt better in a lot of ways. Life went on.
I still didn’t understand why I reacted poorly to some things and why I was so fatigued. I decided to pull out my old Immunolabs list and I considered going back to the Naturopath to see where I was on the healing journey. Was I still reacting to all this food?
Well it’s a pretty expensive bill to go to the ND, and to pay for all the tests and then the supplements, not to mention my already high grocery bill. So I waited and I read books and listened to podcasts and attended webinars. I dove more into this leaky gut thing. I opened my mind even more to some things I just couldn’t handle back when I was taking on a huge diet change, a new house, and my first kid. But now, I was ready to learn more and seek more. Through several resources, I was reassured that food sensitivity testing was a good idea and I decided to see if getting tested without paying for a doctor visit was an option.
Lo and behold, I found Pinnertest. Hallelujah. Pinnertest is an at home IgG test where no doctor visit is required and they only need a few drops of blood rather than a few viles at the lab. Put both of those in the pro column. But was it legit? As I did more research, I found out it was AND the list they test for is more extensive than the Immunolabs list. Another pro. Sign me up! I want to know ALL the foods, please and thank you. I was ready to have some questions answered.
I copied my list of previous no-nos onto a separate piece of paper and underlined things I think I was definitely still reacting to or had noticed a reaction in the recent past. The arrows indicate “not sure”.
I eagerly waited for my test, which I performed easily in a couple minutes. (Time is key when you have two little kids.) I mailed it off and checked my email inbox daily waiting for the results that would take 7-10 days to arrive.
My results were far less extensive than they had been 3 years prior. Here’s an example of how their results are shown…
My reactive list was Peanuts (+1), Pinto Beans (+2), Tuna (+1), Kiwi (+3), Coconut (+1). Tuna?? That wasn’t included in the previous test. So I’ve been walking around this earth eating tuna and not realizing my body was having a bad reaction to it which could cause me to not be able to handle some other stuff. Still pinto beans, which I knew made me feel badly. Peanuts I knew even though I didn’t want to avoid them because peanut butter is so yum. Kiwi? Who knew? And coconut, why??? I was really hoping coconut was on the yes list as it is healing and delicious. But it won’t be healing to me if my body is attacking it.
Getting these results was a huge boost that I was making progress and doing the right things. Even though I was not always eating perfectly, getting gluten out of my life was the best decision. It paid off by helping heal my gut so that I could absorb more healthy foods and not have such bad reactions to them. Gluten and wheat didn’t show up on my Pinnertest because it has been out of my system for so long that I don’t have the antibodies anymore. But I know that if I were to add it back in regularly, it would cause damage to my intestinal walls causing gaps and leaks and holes to appear which can cause healthy foods to cross into the blood brain barrier. (We can talk more about that later.) So maybe I could have the occasional sprouted grain English muffin and not have a reaction, but I’ll tell you, I have no desire and I do not miss gluten, the way it made me feel, or the negative effects I experienced. I’m still working on healing, but knowing these new results helps me move forward without as many healthy food restrictions. I still mostly avoid things that make me feel badly or that cause inflammation.
You can order your own Pinnertest here. https://pinnertest.com They often have discounts available!
If you have any questions for me about all this, please let me know! I will also do another post in the future about my journey with leaky gut, blood brain barrier, how I got there and more of how I am healing it and maintaining health.
I highly suggest going off gluten if you’re a living breathing human. A small percentage of people have Celiacs, but 33-50% of people have a gluten intolerance. And it can mess you up! Just say no. ❤️