Featured Archives - Lifelab Testing

Allergic Rhinitis Guide

Allergic rhinitis is believed to be the most common allergic disease in the world, affecting approximately 10-30% of the adult population {1}.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

The condition is categorised by inflammation of the upper airways, including nasal obstruction and itching, sneezing and rhinorrhea. These symptoms are caused by inhaling allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mould, animal dander or wood dust. Considering allergic rhinitis already affects so many of us, and prevalence rates are increasing, we’ve put together a guide to learn more about the disorder. Firstly, we’ll talk about how there are different types of allergic rhinitis.

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis

Perennial allergic rhinitis is experienced across the year, not pertaining to a certain month or season. This perennial version of the disorder is often caused by house dust mites or pets who are a constant in the house.

Another Name for Allergic Rhinitis

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis is often called hay fever.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Seasonal allergies occur when pollen counts are high, depending on the type of pollen that causes your rhinitis. Tree pollen is common in early spring, grass pollen is more typical of late spring and summer, whereas ragweed pollen is common in autumn. There are myths about hayfever, including that hay and flowers are the causes but this is not the case.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

A woman with a headache
A woman having a headache

The main symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy or blocked nose.
  • A cough.
  • An itchy mouth.
  • Streaming or itchy eyes.
  • Headaches and sinus pain.

Allergic rhinitis has been described as a world health problem since these symptoms can impact absenteeism from work or school, decreased productivity, less sleep, and more doctors appointments. It has even been suggested that the condition causes low job productivity globally even more than high blood pressure and diabetes {2}.

Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma

Allergic rhinitis and asthma frequently co-exist and have a close relationship, wherein at least three out of four people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis. The two conditions share a similar pathology, but influence the upper and lower airways differently.

Health professionals use the ‘Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma’ (ARIA) guidelines to determine the influence of allergic rhinitis on your life in order to tailor treatment plans. They will look at the duration of symptoms (intermittent or persistent) as well as their severity (mild, moderate or severe).

Allergic Rhinitis vs Covid

Although the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and covid-19 can overlap, you should still be able to determine whether you are experiencing allergies or covid. Coronavirus symptoms are more likely to include a dry cough and fever, as well as shortness of breath. If you are unsure, we recommend you take a covid test.

Allergic Rhinitis Treatments

There are different ways to manage your allergic rhinitis to calm symptoms from impacting your day-to-day life.

Nasal Spray for Allergic Rhinitis

Corticosteroid nasal sprays can effectively reduce inflammation in the nose which reduces itching and sneezing. Nasal sprays are available in local pharmacies, or you may be able to have stronger versions prescribed for you based on your doctor’s recommendation.

Antihistamine for Allergic Rhinitis

Antihistamines can effectively control itching and sneezing in those who have mild allergic rhinitis. However, this treatment does not seem as useful in tackling a blocked nose. For individuals with seasonal or situational allergic rhinitis, antihistamines can be used as a preventative measure prior to coming into contact with the allergen, for example if you are allergic to dogs you may take an antihistamine pill before going to someone’s house where there is a dog.

Immunotherapy for Allergic Rhinitis

Immunotherapy is possible for individuals who have moderately severe allergic rhinitis which is impacting their quality of life. Specific immunotherapy involves administering increasing doses of an allergen in order to induce tolerance to it over time. This treatment can prevent you from experiencing allergic symptoms in the future as well as reduce your risk of developing asthma as a result of rhinitis.

Allergic Rhinitis Test

If you take an at home allergy test, you can be notified whether you are allergic to environmental factors such as bahia grass, birch, or cladosporium herbarum, as well as cat and dog dander. It is beneficial to understand your body so that you can be prepared when you come into contact with these allergens again.

References

  1. https://rjme.ro/RJME/resources/files/630222413419.pdf
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/55/11/712/htm

Migraine & IBS

Anyone who has experienced a migraine will tell you it is debilitating. It can completely destroy any ideas you had of productivity for the day and can make your life miserable. Suffering them occasionally is bad enough, but, for some people, migraines are almost a routine experience that can occur VERY regularly. Does this sound familiar?

We have identified a link that you might not have considered…

Is allergy and intolerance testing useful to understand triggered symptoms?

At Lifelab Testing, we know that the management of symptoms in the case of an undiagnosed or not fully understood problem can be quite frustrating.

Sometimes you are experiencing symptoms such as irritation, mood swings, bloating, itchiness and many others, and the only thing you want to do is find a solution for your problem and move on.

At Lifelab, we are here to help you take the first steps to understand more about your body, the cause of your symptoms and help you to improve your health.

We are here to provide you with all the information you will need to take the next step. We will provide you with updated scientific research studies highlighting new development and important advancement in the field of allergy and intolerance testing.

Due to the unclear relationship between IBS and migraines in dietary factors, we have compiled some recent studies indicating that people with migraines and IBS symptoms that followed a restriction diet (under medical/nutritionist supervision, of foods with higher IgG levels) can improve the management of their symptoms and their quality of life.

Research

Elif Ilgaz Aydinlar et al(1) previously reported the possibility to use food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies in migraine and IBS patients showing reduce symptoms with a positive impact on the quality of life of both patients. This study also demonstrated how this could potentially reduce the costs in the health-care system.

In 2017 Hong Sub Lee and Kwang Jae Lee (2)reported that high levels of IgG4 antibodies were observed in IBS patients, suggesting that to improve the quality of life of those patients an elimination diet could be used, eliminating those foods with high levels of IgG4. This study was performed on a small number of people, and the authors suggested that for a more comprehensive study, a large group of people could be investigated in the future.

The pathophysiology of migraines is complex and not well understood. In literature, it is reported how some foods could trigger migraines (chocolate, cheese, and wine to mention some).

 James F. Geiselman (3) in 2019 reported as testing for IgG antibodies in patients with migraines is a beneficial tool for practitioners to treat patients with migraine and headache symptoms, adjusting their diet requirements without using any medications.

Recent studies suggested the possibility of using IgG testing as a tool to adjust dietary requirements in people affected by IBS and migraines, limiting the use of medications to treat some of those cases.

We can see that in recent literature, there is good evidence for the use of allergy and intolerance blood testing as a preliminary tool to manage and treat symptoms from migraines and IBS.

Here at LifeLab, we provide products to test blood allergy and intolerances using a simple home test kit. Our comprehensive Complete Blood test can provide you with a map of your immune system (Allergy Type I IgE and Type III IgG) including IgE mediated allergy and not IgE mediated allergy (IgG4 asymptomatic), and help you in the identification of allergies and intolerances that could be the cause of your migraine.

We Can Help

So what you are waiting for…. Have a look at our tests and start this journey with us and remember if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us, our scientists will be more than happy to help you! And remember we are in it together…

(1) https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02296.x (Elif Ilgaz Aydinlar et al.)

(2) http://www.jnmjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5056/jnm17054 (Hong Sub Lee and Kwang Jae Lee)

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31456119/ (James F. Geiselman)

What does ‘Meat’ mean in my allergy test results?

We receive a lot of questions regarding ‘meat’ in our customers’ test results.

Does this include all meat? What about fish? Or Poultry?

So today we’re clearing up the confusion with an article explaining exactly what we mean by ‘meat’ in your test results.

Scientific Reasoning

Since allergic reactions are almost exclusively caused by the proteins found in an allergen, and different meats share several common factors within their proteins, we test and report them as one single item. Because of these common factors, there is a lot of cross-reactivity across differing meats. For example, someone who reacts severely to chicken may also react to turkey, but to a lesser degree (or vice versa). Hence, it would be of little benefit to our customers if we analyzed these meats separately, rather than all together.

About Allergies

First, it’s important to remember that an allergy is (almost exclusively) a reaction to the proteins in a certain food [1]. These proteins are perceived as a threat by the body, and an allergic reaction occurs. Without the proteins, there would be nothing to react to.


This allergic reaction is known as an IgE-mediated response because the body creates IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies [2] to defend the body against this perceived threat.

An IgE mediated allergic reaction can cause a variety of symptoms. Most commonly;

  • Itchy, red, and watery eyes
  • Swollen mouth, lips, eyes, face, or throat
  • sneezing and a runny or blocked nose
  • Wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath
  • Itchy, red rash (may be raised)
  • Vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhoea
  • Anaphylaxis

Our Blood Sample Allergy Testing

At Lifelab Testing, we analyse all samples against a panel of commonly known allergens. In an allergic sample, we can observe a reaction against certain proteins from those allergens.

Since chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb are all mostly composed of muscle tissue, their composition is all very similar to each other. These meats all share common factors such as epitopes and enzymes, meaning that the reactions are all quite similar.

Epitopes

An epitope is a specific part of an antigen (the ‘invading bad guy’) that interacts with your antibodies [3]. Your antibodies will attach themselves to these epitopes in their attack against an allergen.

Enzymes

Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts. They significantly speed up the rate of pretty much all chemical reactions that take place within a cell. They’re vital to life and are used in various processes in the body, such as digestion and metabolism.

These similarities between proteins cause a lot of ‘cross-reactivity’ between different meats. Cross-reactivity, in this instance, means that an individual may find themselves allergic to two or more of the same things. So, for example, someone might react rather badly to beef and also react to pork, but to a lesser degree (or vice versa).

Because of these similarities between meats, and a heightened chance of cross-reactivity, we decided that it would be best for our Lifelab customers to have their samples tested against meat as a whole, rather than splitting up the analysis into different types of meat. There would be little benefit in splitting up meat into different categories if they are all likely to report similarly. This also leaves room in the test for other food items, allowing for a more diverse range of foods to analyse.

Make sure you get plenty of omega-3 into your body

Why doesn’t ‘Meat’ include fish?

We test for fish allergies separately because of how vastly different the proteins are from each other. In fact, you may notice that we test different types of fish separately. This is due to the difference in proteins between the species.

Final words

Reporting your results in this way makes the proceeding elimination diet simpler to follow and, from our experience, improves adherence to the elimination diet as well. All in all, it makes working towards a healthier, more tailored diet, easier and more straightforward.

References

[1] Nih.gov. (2017). Allergies: Overview. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447112/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].

[2] Justiz, A.A. and Kamleshun Ramphul (2020). Immunoglobulin. [online] Nih.gov. Available at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513460/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020].

[3] Liang, T.C. (1998). Epitopes. Encyclopedia of Immunology, [online] pp.825–827. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B0122267656002292 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2020].

Gluten-Free Brownie Recipe

Living gluten-free doesn’t have to mean eating brownie-free and to prove it; we’ve got an easy gluten-free chocolate brownie recipe for you to sink your teeth into. These brownies should come out with a crinkly top, chewy edges and, of course, a deliciously gooey centre.

Gluten-Free Brownie Stats

Calories Per Serving – 515

  • Fat – 33g
  • Carbs – 45g
  • Sugar – 37g
  • Fibre – 4g
  • Protein – 7g
  • Preparation Time – 20 Minutes
  • Baking Time – 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed, (with extra for baking tray)
  • 150g milk chocolate, cut roughly into chunks
  • 100g gluten-free plain flour sieved
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180C/160C fan. Grease a 30 x 20cm non-stick baking tray with butter, and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Next, fill a small saucepan a third full with water, bring to a simmer and then place a snug-fitting heatproof bowl on top.
  3. Add the butter and chocolate to your saucepan, and gently melt over low heat. Remember to stir occasionally, and be careful not to let it burn to the bottom. Take it off the heat and leave to cool for a little while.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric whisk for around 8-10 mins (or until it’s thick enough to leave a trail).
  5. Gently fold through the vanilla and cooled melted chocolate, followed by the flour, salt, and cocoa. Lastly, fold through the chocolate chunks before pouring the batter into your lined tray.
  6. Then place the tray in the centre of your oven, and bake for 30-35 mins.
  7. Leave them to cool in the tin before cutting into 12 squares, ready to serve.

What is Anaphylaxis? The nitty-gritty

What is it?

Anaphylaxis (also known as ‘anaphylactic shock’ or ‘anaphylaxia’) is a severe allergic reaction that affects the patient’s airways, heart, circulation, gut, and skin. The reaction usually occurs within minutes of exposure to the triggering allergen but can begin up to 2 or even 3 hours after initial contact. This reaction is potentially life-threatening and should be treated immediately by a medical professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

As anaphylaxis affects various systems within the body, there are many signs and symptoms of the reaction.

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Wheezing and a tight test
  • Nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling weak and floppy
  • Swelling of the lips, throat or anywhere on the body
  • Collapsing and/or passing out         
  • Flushed skin (this may be widespread)
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Itchy rash (or hives)

Causes of Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is almost exclusively caused by an allergy, with the vast majority of cases being triggered by one of the 14 major allergens;

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten – including wheat, rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)

Having an allergy to any of these major allergens increases the risk of anaphylaxis. The incidence of anaphylaxis appears to be increasing in the UK. Between 1992 and 2012, the number of yearly hospital admissions tracked by the NHS increased by over 600%, from approximately 1,150 admissions to over 8,200 [1]. The trend seems to be continuing, with admission for under 18’s Between 2014 and 2019 has risen by a staggering 70% [2].

Treatment and Outlook

If you are experiencing a bout of anaphylaxis, it is important to act fast. The first course of action is to administer adrenaline. Pre-loaded auto-injectors containing adrenaline are prescribed to individuals at high risk of anaphylaxis. These auto-injectors should be available at all times – no exceptions.

Adrenaline is crucial in these first few minutes as it acts to rapidly open up the patient’s airways, get their blood pressure back up and stop any swelling. If you suspect that you’re experiencing anaphylaxis but aren’t certain, it is recommended that adrenaline is administered anyway – as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Following administering adrenaline, an ambulance should be called immediately, even if the person’s condition improves upon injecting adrenaline. If their condition gets worse after making that initial 999 call, call them again to ensure an ambulance is dispatched, as you will be put on a higher priority. 5-10 minutes after the first adrenaline injection, a second shot should be administered if the symptoms of anaphylaxis remain. 

Remember, anaphylaxis always requires an immediate emergency response. In the US, an estimated in the US, an estimated, 1% of hospitalisations due to anaphylaxis have a fatal outcome [3], so medical attention is vital.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors associated with anaphylaxis that can be partly controlled or seen as times, to take extra precautionary measures. These include;

  • Poorly controlled asthma
  • Current or recent infection
  • Exercise prior to or shortly after contact with the allergen
  • Suffering from hay fever or other aeroallergen symptoms
  • Emotional stress
  • Drinking alcohol

Research has also highlighted a few other risk factors to be aware of. For example, this study found that as a patient’s age increases, their risk of developing severe cardiovascular symptoms increases substantially [4].  

Suffering from a pre-existing respiratory illness can also be a factor, as studies have shown that poor management of allergic bronchial asthma drastically increases the risk of severe anaphylaxis [5]

Lastly, it appears that male patients are more likely to develop anaphylaxis from insect venom compared to females [6]. This has been observed in both male adults and children.

Prevention

The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to be aware of your allergies and be mindful to avoid them wherever possible. Many people are unaware of any allergies they may have, and most health professionals don’t carry out routine testing without prior evidence of an existing allergy or a family history.

Some people may feel that this is something they want to take into their own hands and opt for allergy testing to ensure they don’t remain ignorant of any potential allergies they may have.  

Final Thoughts

While the number of yearly deaths from anaphylaxis is relatively small, it still concerns us to know we may be at risk of anaphylaxis. And it’s far from an enjoyable experience either way. This life-threatening condition can be avoided with diligence and the knowledge of what your body may react adversely to.

Research

[1] Turner, P.J., Gowland, M.H., Sharma, V., Ierodiakonou, D., Harper, N., Garcez, T., Pumphrey, R. and Boyle, R.J. (2015). Increase in anaphylaxis-related hospitalizations but no increase in fatalities: An analysis of United Kingdom national anaphylaxis data, 1992-2012. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 135(4), pp.956-963.e1. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382330/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

[2] NHS Digital. (2018). Hospital admissions for allergies and anaphylactic shock – NHS Digital. [online] Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/find-data-and-publications/supplementary-information/2018-supplementary-information-files/hospital-admissions-for-allergies-and-anaphylactic-shock [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

[3] Ma, L., Danoff, T.M. and Borish, L. (2014). Case fatality and population mortality associated with anaphylaxis in the United States. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, [online] 133(4), pp.1075–1083. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091674913016424 [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

[4] Worm, M., Babina, M. and Hompes, S. (2013). Causes and risk factors for anaphylaxis. Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft = Journal of the German Society of Dermatology : JDDG, [online] 11(1), pp.44–50. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23181736 [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

[5] Iribarren, C., Tolstykh, I.V., Miller, M.K. and Eisner, M.D. (2010). Asthma and the prospective risk of anaphylactic shock and other allergy diagnoses in a large integrated health care delivery system. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, [online] 104(5), pp.371–7. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20486326?dopt=Abstract [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

[6] Ruëff, F., et al. (2009). Predictors of severe systemic anaphylactic reactions in patients with Hymenoptera venom allergy: importance of baseline serum tryptase-a study of the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology Interest Group on Insect Venom Hypersensitivity. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, [online] 124(5), pp.1047–54. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895993?dopt=Abstract [Accessed 2 Mar. 2020].

Scientific Studies

Atkinson, Sheldon, Shaath, et al (2003) – Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial

Introduction – A total of 150 outpatients with IBS were randomised to receive, for three months, either a diet excluding all foods to which they had raised IgG antibodies (enzyme linked immunosorbant assay test) or a sham diet excluding the same number of foods but not those to which they had antibodies.

Summary – A clinically significant improvement in IBS symptomatology was observed in patients eliminating foods to which they were found to exhibit sensitivity, as identified by an ELISA test for the presence of IgG antibodies to these foods.

Lewis et al., (2012) – Eliminating Immunologically-Reactive Foods from the Diet and its Effect on Body Composition and Quality of Life in Overweight Persons

Introduction – 120 subjects over the age of 18 took part in a study, involving elimination of their IgG reactive foods for 90 days.

Summary – Those who eliminated their IgG reactive foods from their diet experienced reductions in weight, BMI, waist & hip circumference. Subjects also saw improvements in all quality of life measures after 90 days.

Dixon HS. (2000) – Treatment of delayed food reactions based on specific immunoglobulin G testing

Introduction – Conducted by Hamilton Dixon MD in 2000, this study focused on patients that had a history of suffering from a variety of symptoms, including Fatigue (and fatigue after meals, Diarrhoea, Migraines and Itchy Skin. All patients had been unable to find the route of their problem/s using conventional methods.

food sensitivity testing

Summary – 114 patients in total were tested for food sensitivities using a food specific IgG antibody test. Of the 114 initial subjects, 80 completed the study by following an elimination diet based on their IgG reactive foods. Upon elimination of reactive foods, subjects showed significant improvements in their previously reported symptoms. In subjects who reported having symptoms, the following improvements were observed, 71% of subjects realised a 75% or greater improvement in their condition/s, half of the study group realised 90% or more relief from their symptoms and perhaps most importantly, the 15 patients that did NOT eliminate their reactive foods, experienced no relief in their symptoms.

Zar, S. e.a. (2005) – Food-Specific serum IgG4 and IgE titels to common food antigens in irritable bowel syndrome.

Introduction – Food hypersensitivity is a common perception among irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. Data from dietary elimination and food challenge studies support an etiopathological role of diet in IBS, but there are no well-established tests to identify food hypersensitivity. The aim is to compare IgG4 and IgE titers to common food antigens in IBS and controls.

Summary – IBS had significantly higher IgG4 titers (µg/L) to wheat (395 IQR ± 1,011 vs 0 IQR ± 285, p < 0.001), beef (1,079 IQR ± 930 vs 617 IQR ± 435, p < 0.001), pork (481 IQR ± 379 vs 258 IQR ± 496, p < 0.001), and lamb (241 IQR ± 460 vs 167 IQR ± 232, p = 0.009) compared to controls. These differences were maintained across all three subgroups. The antibody titers to potatoes, rice, fish, chicken, yeast, tomato, and shrimps were not significantly different. No significant difference in IgE titers was observed between IBS and controls. SPT was positive for only a single antigen in 5 of 56 patients tested with the same panel of foods. No correlation was seen between the pattern of elevated IgG4 antibody titers and patients’ symptoms.

Serum IgG4 antibodies to common foods like wheat, beef, pork, and lamb are elevated in IBS patients. In keeping with the observation in other atopic conditions, this finding suggests the possibility of a similar pathophysiological role for IgG4 antibodies in IBS.

Bentz et al. (2010) – Clinical relevance of IgG antibodies against food antigens in Crohn’s disease: a double-blind cross-over diet intervention study

Introduction – In this pilot study, 79 Crohn’s Disease patients and 20 healthy controls were examined for food specific immunoglobulin G (IgG). Thereafter, the clinical relevance of these food IgG antibodies was assessed in a double-blind cross-over study with 40 patients. Based on the IgG antibodies, a nutritional intervention was planned.

Summary – A nutritional intervention based on circulating IgG antibodies against food antigens showed effects with respect to stool frequency. Significant improvement in Crohn’s disease sufferers who followed diet removing food they showed sensitivity to (food sensitivity highlighted though IgG test). A clinically significant improvement in IBD symptoms was observed in patients eliminating foods to which they were found to exhibit sensitivity.

Bentz, S., Hausmann, M., Piberger, H., Kellermeier, S., Paul, S., Held, L., Falk, W., Obermeier, F., Fried, M., Schölmerich, J. and Rogler, G., 2010. Clinical relevance of IgG antibodies against food antigens in Crohn’s disease: a double-blind cross-over diet intervention study. Digestion, 81(4), pp.252-264.

Virdee et al., (2015) – Food-specific IgG Antibody—guided Elimination Diets Followed by Resolution of Asthma Symptoms and Reduction in Pharmacological Interventions in Two Patients: A Case Report:

Introduction – A pilot study looked at two case studies of individuals with Asthma. The two subjects were put on an elimination diet after taking an IgG food intolerance test.

Summary – Both patients demonstrated substantial relief in symptoms of Asthma after following a IgG antibody guided elimination diet.

Rees et al. (2005) – A prospective audit of food intolerance among migraine patients in primary care clinical practice

Introduction – This prospective audit was set up to investigate whether migraine sufferers have evidence of IgG-based food intolerances and whether their condition can be improved by the withdrawal from the diet of specific foods identified by intolerance testing. Migraine patients were recruited from primary care practices and a blood sample was taken. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were conducted on the blood samples to detect food-specific IgG in the serum. Patients identified with food intolerances were encouraged to alter their diets to eliminate appropriate foods and were followed up for a 2-month period

Summary – This investigation demonstrated that food intolerances mediated via IgG may be associated with migraine and that changing the diet to eradicate specific foods may be a potentially effective treatment for migraine. Elimination of food that caused high IgG response lead to 30% of subjects reporting benefit to migraine symptoms after 1 month and 40% after 2 months. 60% subjects who reintroduced their reactive foods suffered onset of migraine symptoms.

Lee and Lee (2017) – Alterations of Food-specific Serum IgG4 Titers to Common Food Antigens in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Introduction – 32 Patients diagnosed with IBS and 32 health controls were tested using and IgG antibody test.

Summary – Patient with IBS had significantly higher IgG antibody reactions than the control group.

Serum antibody levels to common foods are abnormally elevated in IBS patients.

Can Your Pets Have Food Allergies, Too?

Just like humans, your pets can suffer food intolerances and allergies. Food allergies in pets are common. At least 10% of dogs are allergic to some kinds of foods; the percentage in cats living with allergies is not known. Apart from food allergies, many pets are intolerant to specific foods. They tend to have a very sensitive digestive system that reacts frequently. 

Food allergy vs food intolerance in pets

An animal is said to suffer food allergies when its immune system reacts defensively to a particular food. Usually, the pet’s immune system mistakes the food for a harmful substance. The symptoms of food allergies differ, but typically, they include licking and scratching, as well as hives and rashes. Nausea and vomiting may also occur in some pets.

In instances of food intolerance, only the pet’s digestive system is involved. The immune system does not react. Instead, the animal’s digestive system reacts strongly to the food. Common symptoms of food intolerance in pets include bloating, severe gas, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

What triggers food allergies and intolerances in pets?

The most likely answer is genetics. Pets that suffer food allergies and intolerances have a somewhat dysfunctional immune or digestive system that mistakes some food ingredients for something harmful. Because the leading cause is genetics, when looking for a pet, you could ask the breeder if the animal has intolerances or allergies in its bloodlines. Certain breeds like rex cats or retrievers are prone to food allergies or intolerances.

What can you do if your pet is allergic or intolerant to food?

Certainly, both defects will not go away. To relieve the symptoms, you have to exclude the allergen from your pet’s diet. But it’s not easy identifying the exact allergen. The recommended procedure is the “elimination diet” technique in which you take out every potential allergen from your pet’s diet for six weeks. With this, all typical symptoms should dissipate. When this happens, you can then re-introduce the potential allergens one after the other, and as soon as any symptom of allergy shows up, you know the offending ingredient. You can then re-introduce other ingredients while eliminating the allergen from your pet’s diet. 

Common food allergies in pets

Cats are mostly affected by wheat, corn, chicken, & soya.

Dogs, on the other hand, are mostly affected by wheat, chicken, rabbit, beef, pork, soy, corn, and diaries.  

dog food allergies

Hypoallergenic foods

If you look closely, you’ll see “hypoallergenic” marked on some pet products. What this means is that the product:

  • Contains just the essentials, and so, the number of ingredients is limited.
  • Common sources of allergens are excluded

LifeLab has a range of tests that can test against at least 160 potential food and non-food allergens, but unfortunately, we don’t test pets (yet!).

What are the Most Common Nutritional Deficiencies?

Nutritional deficiencies can cause all kinds of trouble within our bodies. From fatigue and brain fog to more sinister effects like jaundice, osteoporosis and infertility. We all know the importance of a balanced diet, but there are still several nutrients that we are commonly found to be deficient in.

Here are a few of the most common nutritional deficiencies and how you can prevent a deficiency;

Iron

Iron is a vital mineral in order for your body to produce fresh red blood cells. It makes up a large part of those oxygen transporters and is important for our health. As blood is how all of our cells receive the nutrients they need, it’s key that our body can adequately produce blood cells to get those nutrients sent around.

The world health organisation (WHO) has said that iron deficiency is highly common [2] and highlighted it as an important nutrient we should aim to consume more of. They also back the fortification of grains with iron. The 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans [1] stated that a large number of fertile women are at risk of iron deficiency anaemia, due to insufficient iron in their diet. Affecting more than 25% of the worldwide population, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies around [3].

There are two types of dietary iron; Heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body – it has better bioavailability – meaning you don’t have to consume nearly as much of it to reach your required intake. Heme iron is found only in animal products – red meat is especially high in this mineral. Non-heme iron isn’t as readily absorbed into the blood. Non-heme iron is more common, found in both animal and plant foods.

Iodine

Iodine is especially important for normal thyroid function and regulating your metabolism. Our thyroid hormones are vital to other bodily processes such as growth, bone maintenance and brain development. So, it’s particularly important for children and adolescents.

Severe iodine deficiency can result in developmental abnormalities and may even cause mental retardation. But the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, which can cause weight gain, shortness of breath and a faster heart rate.

Unfortunately, nearly a third of the world is still deficient in iodine [4], in both industrialised and developing nations [5]. Experts have recommended widespread iodised table salt to help combat this.

Calcium

Calcium is another nutrient needed for every cell in the body. It’s vital during times of rapid growth (looking at you, puberty) and is also important for bone health. If your blood becomes lacking in calcium, your bones will release some into the blood, which is why low levels of calcium in the diet can eventually cause brittle bone disease (osteoporosis).

A united states survey found that less than 22% of teenage boys and men over 50 met the recommended calcium intake [9]. With fewer than 15% of teenaged girls and under 10% of women over 50 meeting this recommendation too [9]. That equates to an estimation of over 80% of teenagers and people over 50 consuming less than the recommended intake of calcium on a regular basis.

You can increase your calcium intake by consuming boned fish, dairy products and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach. Supplementation has come under some heavy debate recently, so we are reluctant to recommend this approach.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is used to inform your body’s gene expression and maintain bone health. It’s produced in your skin upon exposure to sunlight, meaning those who live further from the equator a likely to be at risk of deficiency without supplementation.

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common condition with an estimated 74% of UK adults (25 Years or older) having levels below the optimum level for wellbeing. This is more concerning than you might at first expect, as chronic deficiency could lead to adverse health consequences – increasing the risk of many diseases from cancer to diabetes to heart disease [7].

It’s not all bad news though. Research indicates that supplementing vitamin D if you don’t get adequate sun exposure may be beneficial in maintaining optimal blood levels of this essential vitamin [6].

Vitamin B12

Every single cell in your body needs vitamin B12 to function properly. Yet, your body is unable to produce it on its own and the nutrient must be ingested via food or supplements. It is only found in large quantities in animal products – but seaweed may have small amounts of B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a condition known as megaloblastic anaemia – a blood disorder that enlarges the red blood cells. Because the body cannot produce this vitamin and it is only available in mostly animal products, risk of deficiency is high. Absorption of the vitamin decreases with age making the elderly especially vulnerable to deficiency.

Because vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products, vegans and vegetarians should take extra care in ensuring they consume enough vitamin B12. Studies indicate that vegans who do not ingest vitamin B12 supplements are at an especially high risk of becoming deficient [8]. Some researchers have argued that all vegetarians and vegans should be monitored for vitamin B12 deficiency as a precautionary measure [8].

Testing Could Identify Deficiencies

While food deficiencies are something to be wary of – especially if you’re having to cut certain foods out of your diet – it doesn’t have to be something to worry over. There are various tests that can be done to determine whether your body is getting enough of each nutrient. One of these tests is the MyDNA test from MyDNA.

This test analyses your sample to determine what diet is best for your body and least likely to result in any deficiency. If you’re concerned about whether you’re following the optimal diet for your biology, and whether you’re getting enough nutrients, the MyDNA test could lend you a helping hand.

References

[1] https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf

[2] https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/anaemia_iron_deficiency/ 9789241596107/en/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18498676

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892867

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23472655

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12520530

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400738

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24667752

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20181782/

Is Meat Bad For You?

In 2006 an estimated 150,000 vegans were living in the United Kingdom. According to a survey by the Vegan Society, this number has now risen to 600,000. Combine this growth with the popularity of the “Veganuary” trend, and you can see a movement towards meat-free alternatives. For many, the global climate crisis has inspired the change. Research increasingly points to the meat industry as a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. But, for many, becoming vegan (or indeed vegetarian) has been inspired by a perceived health benefit.

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Netflix documentaries, social media influencers, and prominent nutritionists have lined up to extol the virtues of a switch to a plant-based lifestyle. There has been a backlash in some circles as carnivores claim that millennia of meat-eating has done us no harm thus far, so why change a winning formula. But who is right? Is meat bad for you, or is it an essential part of a complete diet?

The Anti-Meat Argument

The most common argument against eating meat is its classification as a carcinogen. This is believed to be due to the lack of fibre in meat as well as the presence of carcinogenic compounds which form during the process of cooking. Advocates also point to the high cholesterol content of meat which has been shown to be linked to heart attacks, strokes & diabetes. Another thing plant-based lifestyle proponents say backs up their case is the presence of hormones in the majority of meat. The hormones are injected into the animals to maximise the amount of meat you get from them. These hormones are then passed onto the consumer, where they can have a negative impact on hormonal balance.

The Pro-Meat Argument

Team Meat will point to a study by a 14 member international team. This study found that there was no certainty to the links between meat consumption and chronic disease. The study claimed that all data up to this point had, in fact, been inconclusive. Meat-eating proponents will also point to studies which show that many plants eaten by vegans and vegetarians have a higher hormone content than most meats. In response to the criticism of the meat industry’s contribution to climate change, advocates will say that it is far down the list of concerns and that, in advanced countries, it’s contribution to greenhouse emissions is as low as 3% (United States) of the total emissions.

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Considerations To Make When Choosing Meat Or No Meat?

With arguments on both sides of the divide, it appears as though the current evidence is inconclusive either way. But on an individual level, it is essential to consider your own reaction to eating meat. This is where a food intolerance blood test can be crucial. A food intolerance blood test can help you identify whether or not you have an intolerance to any meats which can cause symptoms including diarrhoea, fatigue and vomiting. You can find a food intolerance blood test to help you determine your sensitivity to meat here.

Peanut allergy treatment approved by FDA

There’s been a game changing development in the world of allergies. In the end of January, FDA approved a revolutionary new kind of peanut allergy treatment for children and adolescents called Palforzia. The approval comes following a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with roughly 500 participants.

The new allergy treatment brings a sigh of relief to many parents of children who live in fear that should their child accidentally consume the slightest bit of peanut; they’ll be in for a long visit to A&E.

The new treatment is a powder made from peanuts to be taken orally. It comes in colour-coded capsules up until the maintenance phase, when it comes in sachets. The powder can be taken with applesauce or yoghurt for convenience, so long as it doesn’t dissolve in what it’s mixed with.

How does the treatment work?

The treatment is labelled a kind of ‘oral immunotherapy’. The idea behind it is quite simple really, involving carefully administering tiny amounts of the allergen and increasing dosage over time (taken orally). Thus, slowly allow the body to become used to the allergen and hopefully cause less of a reaction should the patient accidentally consume a small amount of peanut.

The first stage is administered under doctor supervision.  This has been coined the ‘initial dose escalation phase’ and is consumed in a single day. The second stage of the treatment consists of 11 dosage increases over several months. Again, the first dose of each up-dosing level is administered under medical supervision, in case of any severe reactions. This is a precautious measure due to the potential for allergic reactions, even anaphylaxis, to occur.

The third and final stage is maintenance, with the drug then taken daily. It must be maintained in order for the treatment to be effective. Should the patient stop taking it, the benefits of immunotherapy are unlikely to persist.

How dangerous is this new allergy treatment?

The new drug is approved on the condition that all doctors administering the drug and those taking it undergo training in a special safety program to minimise the risk, should an adverse reaction occur during treatment.

There is the risk of an allergic reaction at each increased dosage, which is why they first of each increase is taken under medical supervision. There are certainly risks with this new form of treatment, a small number of participants in the study suffered anaphylaxis from an increased dosage, so parents will have to weigh the pros and cons, and determine if this treatment is suitable or not.