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ADHD Test: Food Allergies

There is increasing scientific evidence showing that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems are sensitive to certain foods. When exposed to these foods, they often undergo significant behavioral and physical changes – they get glazed eyes or tummy problems, or experience swings in behavior.  Science and clinical experience has shown that diet modification is a critical component of a comprehensive approach to managing ADHD.  The only problem with diet modification is that you need to know what needs to be modified.  One way to do this is through an elimination diet, a long trial-and-error procedure where foods are slowly eliminated then reintroduced into the diet.  Another way to detect food sensitivities is through blood testing.

A classic food allergy reaction occurs through specific mechanisms.  When cells from the immune system come in contact with an allergen, they produce molecules called immunoglobins E or IgE.  Standard allergy tests only identify IgE antibodies, and allergists usually give a shot to treat the allergy.  The shot works by introducing a low level of allergen into the child's body so it will not elicit an IgE reaction.  The dose is slowly increased until the child can eventually tolerate constant exposure to that allergen.  This type of allergy testing is limited, because it does not evaluate food intolerance. Food intolerance induces another type of reaction involving IgG. This reaction is also called delayed-onset allergy, because it may take up to three days to occur. Think of IgG food allergies as a hit-and-run driver: by the time the victim has been found, the driver has already fled the scene. It is difficult to correlate the driver with the victim unless there is a direct witness to the crime, and the provocation-neutralization technique is the traffic cop who came late on the scene

The best way to test for food allergies (intolerance) is through a test that looks for IgG food allergies or delayed reaction food allergies.  You will need to find a holistic health care practitioner to help you order and interpret the result of IgG food allergy testing.

Food intolerance can also be detected using another test called the ALCAT. The ALCAT Test is a blood test that looks for delayed reactions by objectively measuring the reaction of white blood cells and red blood cells when they are exposed to various foods. When the blood sample is exposed to a food the child is allergic or intolerant to, some of the white blood cells literally explode. The ALCAT (sometimes also called CytoToxic Test in Europe) is useful because it is different from other IgG and IgE tests. Instead of looking purely at an immune mechanism, it looks at other type of reactions in the blood, because they do not just rely on one immune pathway. The ALCAT test can be used to identify allergic reactions to over 300 different foods, artificial additives, environmental chemicals, antibiotics, even molds and pharmocoactive ingredients. 

Another way to test for allergies is to use manual muscle testing. In this procedure, referred to as "kinesiology," the practitioner tests the strength of a patient's muscle. The patient holds a bottle containing an extract of a particular food. If the originally strong muscle becomes weak, this suggests the patient is intolerant of the food extract. One study showed that this procedure correlated 90% of the time with IgE testing. You will need to find a trained practitioner. If you would like to use that approach, I recommend you find a chiropractor using a technique called "applied kinesiology."

Regardless of the method you use to find out which food your child is allergic to, you will need to do an elimination diet. In the end, eliminating the suspected food and observing your child's behavior will be the only way to truly confirm whether there is a link between that food and your child's ADHD.

If you need some help following an elimination diet, check out the UnRitalin Solution.