If you are working to manage leaky gut, autoimmunity or other chronic conditions, you may want to do lab testing for food sensitivities and cross-reactivity. In recent years, new research has provided us with food immune reactivity testing that provides more accurate, consistent, and reliable results.
I use Cyrex Labs for food reactivity testing because their testing is based in the most current research and they are known for a high level of accuracy. In addition, Cyrex is unique in that it tests foods in the state they are normally consumed — raw, cooked, processed, and combined.
Why is this so important? Heating and processing change the structure of food proteins, which can play a role in whether a person reacts to them. For example, some people will not react to a food in its raw form, but they will react severely to the cooked form.
What’s more, some people react to certain foods only when they are combined with other foods or compounds. Cyrex tests for certain common combinations found in food processing.
How to prepare properly to make the most of your Cyrex Labs test
Lab testing for food reactivity isn’t cheap and when your tests comes back almost all negative results despite obvious food sensitivities, this can be very frustrating.
Following certain steps prior to testing can ensure more accurate results.
Ensure your immunity is strong enough to test
Sometimes the immune system is so exhausted from overwork that it is too depleted to produce enough antibodies to measure on a lab test. In this case, test results can show low or no antibodies, despite the presence of obvious food reactivity symptoms.
Before spending time and money on food reactivity testing, it’s ideal if you can make sure your immune system is strong enough by testing for total immunoglobulin (IgG, IgA, and IgM). The result will tell you how strong your immune system is.
If it’s low you need to shore up your immune system up before testing. Each individual has unique needs, and it’s impossible to present a concrete plan here that would work for everyone, but a basic plan would include following the autoimmune diet for a brief period, taking omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), and using glutathione, vitamin A, and vitamin D to help dampen autoimmune inflammation.
Sometimes the problem is more complex than these strategies can support and it may be necessary to seek the help of a qualified functional medicine practitioner to identify and address other factors.
Avoid steroid-based drugs if possible
Steroid-based drugs often lead to false negative results. If your practitioner feels it is safe to go off them temporarily, do so for a couple months before testing so your immune system is able to produce measurable antibodies.
Expect results only for foods you eat
Food reactivity testing only reads foods you have been eating. If you have not had a food in the past three to four months, it won’t test positively, even if it’s one you would normally react to. Therefore, it’s important to have a wide variety of foods in your diet before testing.
However, if there are foods you know you react severely to, then of course avoid those.
When your Cyrex Labs Array 5 results come back all positive
Cyrex Array 5 Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen. This array tests for autoimmune reactions to multiple tissues. If your results come back all positive, does it mean your immune system is attacking your entire body? No — it likely means you are fighting an active bacterial, parasitic, or viral infection. Clearing that issue first will enable you to return for more accurate results.
When your Cyrex Labs Array 10 results come back all positive
When patients take Cyrex’s Array 10 Multiple Food Immune Reactivity Screen, sometimes they get shocking results that say they are reactive to 120 or more of the 180 foods tested. This doesn’t mean you have to give up all those foods permanently, and for most of them, not even temporarily. It likely means you have lost oral tolerance and your immune system is hyper reactive.
In this case, I have patients only avoid the foods they know they are most reactive to and undergo a protocol to improve oral tolerance. Once oral tolerance is improved, testing will be more accurate. In most cases, after a proper oral tolerance protocol, patients come back and find they test positive for far fewer foods — and they notice fewer obvious reactions, too.
This is a general overview of what to address before testing with Cyrex Labs. Your practitioner can help you use this information to assure the most accurate results in your search for managing your autoimmune or chronic conditioin.
For more information about Cyrex’s Array 10 series and what “equivocal” and “out of range” mean on Cyrex test results, see this article on my website.