Food Intolerance Testing with ALCAT: Our Story (Part 1)
Like with the GAPS diet, I’ve known about food intolerance testing for a long time, but have waited to try everything else before submitting to testing. Why? Because its expensive! Really expensive. And it’s not covered by insurance – at least not in the US or Canada. But over the years we’ve done multiple elimination diets, seen conventional doctors, tried many alternative treatments like homeopathy and NAET, and went extreme with the GAPS diet. And while we have seen vast improvements in Tristan’s eczema, asthma, and allergies, he’s still not 100%. And since I cannot just give up on my son, we’re still trying to find the last remaining pieces of the puzzle.
We have also seen amazing results with many natural skin care products, the Manuka Honey Skin Cream being our family favorite, but we know we can’t simply apply something to the skin to see the eczema healed once and for all. Creams and balms can provide wonderful results, but they are usually temporary. Healing often comes from within, so the root of the problem needs to be addressed before real change can happen. The same goes for asthma and arguably, mild cases of allergies. Why does cat dander trigger asthma? Why does stress trigger eczema? Why does wheat trigger hives or itching? Obviously, these are not normal bodily response and since everyone’s triggers are different, it makes finding out the root cause one mighty complex puzzle.
So, anyway, here we are with Tristan. So close, yet so far. So, we finally submitted to food intolerance testing. I say “we” because I was tested as well, in hopes of sorting out a variety of health ailments I’m working through. I did a lot of research online and discussed both IgG and ALCAT testing with my naturopath and decided to go with ALCAT, which monitors the way your white blood cells interact with different foods, chemicals and other substances. Here is some detailed information about the ALCAT technology. According to my naturopath, he has many healthy clients who submit to every test known to man (at a ridiculous price) in attempt to quickly identify the ailments they’re suffering from. For this reason, he’s seen IgG and ALCAT test results for the same patients, taken at the same time. He claims he sees a much higher rate of accuracy with intolerant foods and the ALCAT test. IgG is not far off, but it’s his opinion that ALCAT is better. Since both tests cost the same, we went with ALCAT based on both my naturopath’s and my findings.
After submitting multiple vials of blood each, Tristan and I waited anxiously for the results, which took about two weeks to receive. And boy were we shocked! The test categorizes the results into four categories: Severe Intolerance, Moderate Intolerance, Mild Intolerance, and No Intolerance. So, why were we shocked? Because we were eating many of the foods we seem to be intolerant to on a daily basis. Could this be why we’re both still not well after all we’ve tried?
Tristan – Banana/plantains, guava, oregano, plum/prune, pumpkin (seeds too), red/green leaf lettuce, spearmint, watercress, wild rice
Jennifer – Artichoke, banana/plantains, bell peppers, bok choy, buckwheat, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cardamom, clove, coconut, date, guava, licorice, lime, mustard, olive (oil too!), orange, oregano, papaya, paprika, plum/prune, pumpkin (seeds too), red beet, red/green leafy lettuce, scallions, spearmint, wild rice.
Phew! I’m exhausted just from typing all that! Now, that’s just a sample since I didn’t write out our moderate or mild intolerances, because those lists are even longer. Yikes!
The idea behind ALCAT is to avoid the severe intolerances for six months, moderate for three months, mild for one month and then gradually reintroduce the foods to see how your body reacts. Considering how long our list of foods to avoid is, it seemed impossible to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet at first. But thankfully ALCAT gave us a four-day rotation diet to follow, which I am grateful for. It takes all the guesswork out of meal planning and grocery shopping. We just make sure to eat a variety of foods allowed on each of days 1 – 4 and that’s it. I very rarely follow recipes anymore because so many spices and seasonings are prohibited – all the substitutions just got way too complicated. I mostly season with sea salt, lemon juice, leeks or shallots, and grilled sesame seed oil. Who knew cooking without recipes would feel so liberating. I love it!
Here’s an example of how we eat on Day One:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with shiitake mushrooms and zucchini sautéed in duck fat and salt to season with pineapple on the side
Snack: Almonds or cashews and mango
Lunch: Leftovers from the night before
Snack: Chicken jerky marinated in lemon, garlic, salt, ginger, then dehydrated
Dinner: Turkey breast in a salt water brine with mashed cauliflower and arugula/romaine salad with lemon, grilled sesame oil and salt dressing.
It’s been two full months on the diet and we’ve seen some very positive changes in Tristan’s asthma. He was able to come off all his asthma medications and he’s only needed his rescue inhaler one time during one night. His eczema changed for a while, didn’t really improve, it was just different in appearance, but now he’s back to the same minor flare-ups as before. His allergies have not really changed that we can tell, but they were already much better to start with. He is now very congested in his sinuses pretty much constantly and while he does cough a lot, it’s no longer an asthma cough, but more moist and phlegmy. So we still have a way to go.
My very minor eczema around the nose has disappeared as well as my dandruff. I also very rarely see any acne whereas I used to always have 1-2 two breakouts on my cheeks. I’ve lost almost all the bloating in my belly and even dropped a few pounds, which I had gained just after coming off the GAPS diet and going a bit nuts on the deserts for a time. Ooops 😦 But other than those improvements, I still have quite a lot to work on.
So, we’re going to step it up a notch to see if we can encourage quicker healing by removing the mild intolerant foods now as well. For the first two months we tried to include them, but we haven’t seen the results we’d hope for, so now we’ll eliminate them and see how it goes. I’m very hopeful we’ll see more healing because 1) the only time Tristan needed his rescue inhaler since changing our diet was the night every food he ate was a mild intolerance and 2) because I experience heartburn after a few of the mild intolerant foods. So eliminating all but the zero intolerant foods should help us.
Time will tell if healing will continue to happen. Stay tune for an update in a couple of months.
Sorry for the blurry images – here are our results.
Tristan’s results first:
My results – notice how they are much more severe and moderate intolerant foods?
The rotation diet, from Tristan’s test: