Food Allergies


Food Allergies and Fibromyalgia

By Elisabeth Deffner

Could your fibromyalgia symptoms be exacerbated by a food allergy?

LaWanda Sutherland believes hers were.

Diagnosed with FM three years ago, Sutherland, 41, took a food allergy test that revealed allergies to eggs, dairy, wheat, and yeast - which, together, comprised a major part of her diet. She had no idea she was allergic to any of them.

For two months she eliminated them from her diet, sustaining herself mainly on fruits, vegetables, and soy.

"That really, really helped" says the Florida resident.

That’s no surprise to John Kernohan, director of the North American facility of York Nutritional Laboratories.

"When it comes to fibromyalgia, we have seen great success" he says. "Sleepless nights, muscle and joint pain, the fatigue - all of that we find being eliminated and or greatly improved by identifying and removing allergic foods."

York uses ELISA technology - the same technology some laboratories use for screening HIV antibodies—to search for IgG antibodies attaching to certain foods. This is a different kind of allergy than most people are familiar with.

"In my opinion and experience, when the vast majority of people think of food allergy, they’re thinking of a classic or immediate-onset food allergy caused by an antibody called IgE" says Kernohan. "Those are considered 'permanent allergies'."

"It’s typically a single food, typically foods people rarely eat, and it only occurs in approximately 2-3% of the general population. It’s more prominent in pediatrics than adults.”"

The other kind of allergy, however, involves foods people regularly eat. The body’s reaction to a hidden food allergy is not immediate, but can take two hours to two days to occur. This kind of allergy - the kind Sutherland was tested for - is present in an estimated 45-60% of the population.

In these cases, "there are elevated levels of the IgG antibody circulating in the blood system" explains Kernohan. "When partially undigested food proteins get into the bloodstreams, elevated IgG antibody levels attach to those foods."

The typical "skin scratch test" is not capable of detecting this type of allergy. For the IgG test, clients prick their finger and send the blood sample to the lab, where it is tested on up to 113 different foods.

There are eight common foods that often elicit IgG reactions. Among them are gluten, cow’s milk, and soy.

But individuals with hidden food allergies have different triggers. One person may be allergic to gluten, another to lettuce. And because so many of us have limited diets - the dishes on the menu might change, but not the ingredients in those dishes - we are constantly causing ourselves allergic reactions.

More than 118 conditions or symptoms are provoked or caused by hidden food allergies, including conditions as varied as fibromyalgia and arthritis, asthma and some types of cancer, headaches and weight gain.

The good news is that hidden food allergies may not be permanent. After an elimination period of several months, the IgG levels in the blood subside, and clients can reintroduce into their diet 86-100% of the foods to which they had been reactive.

Sutherland slowly reintroduced her reactive foods into her diet, one at a time. Now those foods are part of her diet again, although she is careful not to overindulge.

For instance, she makes her own bread, even grinding the wheat herself, and eats it without feeling any exacerbation of her FM symptoms - fatigue, muscle aches, and sleep difficulties. If she eats too much store-bought bread, however, she notices a difference in how she feels.

"I tell anybody about this test" she says. "I’ve actually recommended it not only to fibromyalgia patients but to other patients who say, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me."

"[I tell them], 'Maybe you have a food allergy. You need to try this test'."

You can learn more about York Nutritional Laboratories at


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