Congratulations! You’ve taken the 1st step to gut health and a better life by taking the P88-DIY Antigen Test from Precision Point Diagnostics. Your decision to initiate a “gut check” may just be one of the most important steps you can take to regain control of your health by knowing how your gut reacts to the world of food you consume. How you react to foods, whether you are just sensitive or allergic, has an impact on more than just your gut. Food sensitivities and allergies are often at the root of inflammation in the gut, and this inflammation can cause a host of problems with your digestive system that might be obvious, like bloating, discomfort, loose stool, cramping, and urgency to use the bathroom. These symptoms might be signs that you are on the path to, or have already developed larger gut problems, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Diverticulitis. Many of these problems are auto-immune in nature, and a number of foods can trigger or worsen them. You don’t have to have a full-blown autoimmune condition to suffer from food sensitivities and allergies, though. You may very well be on track to have some of these same gut symptoms just by your previously unknowing exposure to foods that bother you. These foods can cause inflammation, and inflammation can loosen the tight junctions in the gut, causing a “leaky gut” and these symptoms can beset you. What’s worse, is that this inflammation in the gut is the key to inflammation throughout the body and can very much affect how you feel mentally as well. There is a well-documented gut-brain connection, and problems with the gut can cause you to feel a lack of energy, have “brain fog”, decrease motivation, a lack of clear thought and memory, or just feel rundown. This awareness of how overall inflammation can affect virtually every system of the body, and the fact that the gut behaves almost like a “second brain” is why the PPD food antigen tests measure more than just simple IgE reactions. Although these are probably the most familiar of most allergies, the sort where you react with hives or a swollen throat very shortly after being exposed to something that you are allergic to, it is the reaction to IgG and C3d, that develops as much as days later, that may be may be more difficult to pinpoint the source for, and that causes much of the more systemic inflammation and brain effects. Well, again- congratulations! You now have access to this much more elusive information about how your body reacts across a spectrum of allergy and sensitivity types. Let’s look at what comes next:
How to proceed from here to begin understanding your gut- and how to shape your behavior for a better life!
Step 1: How to interpret your results
The Precision Point Diagnostics P88-DIY tests two categories of results- allergies and sensitivities. In this case, an allergy means that you are likely to have an immediate IgE histamine reaction to a food that you test positive to. This is seen on the left column of the results sheet. To the right is the list of antigens that are tested that demonstrate sensitivity. Although these are sometimes also an indication of allergy, the P88-DIY classifies these as sensitivities due to the complex interplay between these markers and IgE. Basically, if you see a moderate or above in any category, that is a sign for action by eliminating this food from your diet for a period of time. You don’t need to figure this all out for yourself- The P88-DIY uses a proprietary algorithm, the Immune Index, which categorizes your overall reactivity to foods across all of the markers tested, with priority given to C3d, since this marker can indicate the presence of a “complement cascade”- a sign that active inflammation related to this food is occurring in your body. The Immune Index ranks all of the foods you react to in order of severity so that you can prioritize how to remove them from your diet. Below the results for the foods you react to, you’ll see the recommendations for a less restrictive, and more restrictive diet. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind that may be related to food allergies and sensitivities, or if you’ve reacted strongly to a number of foods, then it’s recommended that you initiate a more restrictive diet, and slowly add foods back in to see which causes an effect. If you’ve experienced no clear symptoms, or if you have not reacted strongly to any foods, or if the more restrictive diet seems too onerous, you could try the least restrictive diet instead. Again, you’ll eliminate all of the foods listed, as instructed, and slowly reintroduce them. If the less restrictive diet doesn’t seem to make a difference, you might consider starting again, but this time with the more restrictive diet. These choices should be guided by the third section of your report, the Immune Index. As explained above, this is a list of foods derived from our algorithm for your personal food allergy/sensitivities that lists your foods in order of concern. Those at the top should be avoided the longest and reintroduced back into the diet with days of separation from other foods so that you can observe their individual effects on your body. The next section of your report is Biogenic Compounds. This additional feature of our unique antigen tests shows you other reactions not directly related to allergy, but other pathways that may affect how you feel. If you find a number of foods grouped into one of these categories, then that should be a sign for you to avoid other foods in the category, or for the longer term to adopt a diet that emphasizes these other, non-allergenic reactions. For instance, if you find that you have many foods in the category “FODMAP”, then you may have difficulty in absorbing and digesting certain sugars found in some foods, which then is an indication that you may think about avoiding other FODMAP foods by adopting a FODMAP diet after you’ve completed your initial food elimination diet. Likewise, if you find yourself reacting to many Oxalates, then that may mean that you process Oxalic acid differently than many others do and you may want to avoid oxalate-containing foods for the long term. These categories show different pathways of sensitivity than allergens, and our test uniquely shows you these so as to allow you to embrace a more comprehensive plan for gut wellness. Additional pages show you results by categories of food, to help you track patterns in your reactions.
Step 2- Embrace The Elimination Diet.
Now that you’ve looked over your results, the next step is to launch a plan for an elimination diet. An elimination diet can be a powerful tool to unravel the mysteries of underlying problems with allergies, sensitivities, and autoimmunity – a whole range of conditions. It’s certainly worth committing to and sticking with this sort of diet, so let’s take a closer look at what is involved. To start with, what is meant by an elimination diet? An elimination diet is usually recommended as a way to get to the root of which foods may be giving your body problems. Those problems can be myriad, as which foods we eat can cause all sorts of reactions in the body. You may have a noticeable reaction that affects your gut in the form of discomfort, irregular bowel movements, heartburn, bloating, or other digestive symptoms. You might have a skin condition such as a rash, rough skin, psoriasis, or eczema. You might have more general symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, irritability, or general malaise. You might not have specific symptoms that you have ascribed to any particular condition but instead may have had the indication of allergy or sensitivity come back from a food sensitivity test. These things may have motivated you to start questioning whether the foods you eat may be contributing to these problems, or may have motivated your practitioner to suggest a deeper dive into examining the foods you consume and how they affect your overall health. An elimination diet helps answer these questions by going back to basics- stripping away the quantity of foods that are suspected to cause problems, and keeping only those that one has a good reason to expect to be safe. After staying with these basic foods for a time, you can see if there is any improvement in particular symptoms or if there is any increase in general well-being. If there is, then more foods are gradually added back in until the offending foods are spotted. If there is no improvement, more foods may be stripped out of the diet to give a more basic starting point for analysis or to change the set of basic foods. More foods are added to the diet (or taken out permanently if there is a reaction) as time goes on. In this way, a list of foods will be generated to avoid in the future, and hopefully, you will start to feel better! For some people, the results of an elimination diet can be life-changing! It’s important to realize that although the antigen test may give you an idea of allergies or sensitivities, these may manifest in different ways for different people- It’s important to “test” each of the foods that it’s been reported that you react to by removing each from your diet for a time.
It’s also important to know that some foods are cross-reactive and others may be composed of a variety of ingredients that require more foods to be eliminated. For instance, if you suspect you are reacting to tomatoes, it may be necessary to temporarily eliminate all members of the nightshade family (of which tomatoes are a member), such as eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. It might be that you feel off the day after having a couple of beers the night before. This could be because of the acetyl aldehydes as you break down the alcohol, the yeast used to ferment the beer, the gluten in the barley, or the barley itself. All would be eliminated and reintroduced one by one. The P88-DIY test helps you to pinpoint these foods, but even if you’ve had a food sensitivity test, there may be cross-reactive foods that have not been tested. If necessary, your practitioner or a nutritionist can help you sort out which other foods to eliminate. On the other hand, if you’ve tested positive for a range of foods or have multiple or severe symptoms, you might have to eliminate a large range of foods to begin with and be on the diet for a longer period of time. Some eliminations might seem easier than others- if you have to eliminate all legumes and you eat them only occasionally, the diet might seem easy. If you must eliminate a range of foods, or gluten, or something you consume all of the time, like coffee, it might seem impossible.
It’s not impossible! How can you manage it? To start with, focus on why you are embracing the diet in the first place. Imagine eliminating your debilitating gut pain, or having to rush to the toilet when visiting friends. Imagine having a clear head again after suffering from brain fog for so long, or having more vigor and energy. Imagine your skin clearing up, your eyes less puffy, and your joints less achy. Whatever motivated you or your practitioner to have you embark on this diet, remember that it will be worth it! Many of us have changes in which foods can be easily tolerated as we age. Your aches and pains and discomforts aren’t necessarily just the pains of aging, but you are not keeping up with your changing body. You may not always have had a sensitivity to gluten or dairy, but you may have developed one. Discover these changes and embrace them- learn to like new foods that make YOU feel better. Knowledge is empowerment!
Secondly, realize that everything being eliminated is probably not being eliminated for good. Most of these eliminations will probably not be permanent- in a relatively short time, many or most of the foods that have been eliminated will be returned to your diet- particularly if there are multiple foods that are temporarily gone. Before you know it, many of those foods will be back- but this time you’ll have more confidence that they are not the culprits in your discomfort. For those foods that are eliminated, or to help you in the process of discovering which are problematic, there are substitutes- often these are easier than ever to find and sometimes very appealing. For instance, most supermarkets have a range of gluten-free flour, gluten-free breads and baked goods, and even “GF” symbols right on the shelf next to the price, making it easier than ever to find gluten-free products. Restaurants are more responsive than ever to food sensitivities, many will ask when you order, and many will have substitutions available. Even some fast food places make it easier to order when on an elimination diet- there are salads, grilled instead of fried, and even gluten-free buns at Chick-fil-A! If you give up dairy, there are various nut milks, if you give up gluten, there are gluten-free options like rice, corn, and legumes that can easily be substituted in tortillas, pasta, and bread. There are other carbs like potatoes. If you eliminate members of the lily family like onions and garlic, it still may be possible to use herb flavoring blends, or even oil infused with those flavors rather than using the whole products since some of the compounds that may irritate aren’t oil soluble. There are a wealth of choices that can help you succeed. The eventual payoff is worth it! Even if you initially fail, keep trying and stick with it! Eventually, as you heal your gut lining and calm down your immune system’s reaction to certain foods, You may be able to reintroduce them in the future- but don’t make that less likely by not trying now! Look at it as a mystery that must be investigated- eventually, you’ll find the culprit and be healthier and happier for it. Your body changes over time, help it change in a way that still lets you feel good. You might even find some new favorite foods! Foods that are entirely eliminated from the diet should remain out of the diet for 6 weeks, and then one off the list of eliminated foods can be added back in every 3-4 days thereafter. If there is no change, you may keep the food as part of your standard diet. If you do react, eliminate the food for 1 year and try reintroducing it again- repeat.
Step 3- Support your gut
Once you’ve begun your elimination diet, your next step is to support your gut in other ways. While eliminating foods that you are sensitive or allergic to is a huge start, it’s not the only thing you should do to support your future gut health. To start with, consider other things you do that may affect your gut. Have you been on a course of antibiotics recently? Do you frequently take antibiotics? Antibiotics, while sometimes lifesaving, can ravage the intestinal flora in your gut. They not only kill off whatever you are taking the antibiotics for, but whole categories of beneficial gut biota. These biota help regulate everything from your digestion to your immune system. Replacing lost colonies of beneficial flora should be a priority after antibiotic use. Prolonged use of antibiotics can permanently alter your gut microbiome, contributing to inflammation throughout the body. Sometimes it’s not just enough to take offending foods out, you have to add some things in to help achieve a healthy gut. Even if you don’t take antibiotics, your composition of gut flora can alter radically, and quickly, just based on what you eat. Meat-eaters and vegans have markedly different microbiomes. Those who eat sugar and those who mostly don’t have radically different microbiomes. Those who eat lots of fiber and those who don’t have radically different microbiomes. You get the picture. It’s important that you supply your microbiome with a healthy range of beneficial flora through supplementation with a quality probiotic. Probiotics have been demonstrated to quickly alter the microbiome in a healthy direction. This can work in concert with your elimination diet to ensure that you support your gut as you alter your diet. Other natural materials can be enlisted as support mechanisms. Quercetin can have a strong antioxidant activity and it has been shown to support immune health by mediating the release of inflammatory compounds. Quercetin is known for its ability to stabilize mast cells, diminishing the release of histamine, which can be useful particularly if you are having an IgE reaction to a particular food. DAO (Diamine Oxidase) is an enzyme responsible for the degradation of ingested histamine. This enzyme has been clinically tested and found to break down food-derived histamine in the digestive tract. DAO is not absorbed and does not have systemic activity. Again, this can be an excellent addition to support buffering reactions to food allergies and sensitivities. L-glutamine is a vital nutrient that is useful in helping to heal leaky gut. Once we lower inflammation and heal/seal that gut lining, you may start to see those allergy/sensitivity symptoms get better.
Step 4- Change your lifestyle- establish a long-term plan
Embracing the path to gut health will require a commitment on your part- but the results will be worth it! After you’ve followed the elimination diet and decided which foods should be eliminated, and after you’ve taken steps to support a healthy microbiome, how should you behave long-term? To start with, if all of this is overwhelming, and you need support, talk further with your practitioner or with a nutritionist. Secondly, we’re sure you are struggling to envision your new diet- how will it work? Will I be able to cut out things I love? You have a couple of options here. It may turn out that there are indeed some things you must now do without from here on in. I think you’ll be surprised that you’ll be able to adapt just fine over time. As you age, you probably knew you’d have to give up daily doughnuts, shakes, and cheeseburgers. In fact, looking back, you might wonder how you ever were able to live such a lifestyle! The same will likely come to be true of your current choices. If not, think of this as a chance to “reset” your gut. This is an investigation. What you will find out from this test and the elimination diet that follows will empower you. You may find that after a while you are wistful about certain foods and wish you could have them again. After some time has passed, you may find you are able to. After a year or so, reintroduce the troublesome foods and see what happens. You might find that the long break you’ve taken from the food has rendered it safer. If not, remember how much better you feel and move on. You’re likely to establish long-term substitutes that still please you. Add exercise to your life plan if you haven’t already. Even a brisk 30-minute walk a day can do wonders- not just for your general health, but for your gut. Make a commitment to your long-term health and don’t let short-term desires for certain foods make you regret it the next day. Continue to monitor your progress by making a commitment to take another P88-DIY once a year. This guidance should both help you to check that you are on track and provide a signpost for the following year.