What is food intolerance?

Classical type I allergy, is characterized by a rapid onset of symptoms; like an anaphylactic reaction following ingestion of peanuts; or, a break-out in hives following exposure to shellfish. In contrast, food intolerance may be delayed and symptoms are more likely to be low grade and chronic.

Allergy is a function of the specific immune system and is the same as our protective defense against parasites (helminth infection). You can imagine that if an immune cell has to fight a large worm that the response will be quite strong and dramatic. And that’s why when the immune system mounts a very similar response against an allergen the response is equally dramatic and acute.

An allergy test is not very useful for detecting intolerances or sensitivities.

Why? Because toxic, immunologic, or pseudo-allergic immune responses are a not a function of the specific immune response but of the innate immune system defense mechanisms which is normally aimed at smaller pathogens, i.e., viruses, bacteria, and toxins. These reactions are generally delayed, chronic and low grade. However, these defense reactions cause inflammation that can manifest in any part of the body, as well as having strong effects on metabolism, which can lead to diabetes, overweight and cardiovascular disease.

Understanding the connection between inflammation, illness and innate immunity

The ALCAT test measures the response of all of the immune cells in the blood. The most reactive cell population observed is the granulocyte fraction which comprises much of the “innate immune system”. So that which is is tested are the responses of white blood cells (leukocytes), particularly lymphocytes (type of white blood cells) and neutrophils. However, the neutrophils represent 65 – 80%, of the totality of all of the white blood cells. It is mainly the neutrophils that are responsible for the inflammatory response associated with food intolerance symptoms, as these cell produce tissue and DNA damaging free radicals, as well as aggressive toxic mediators and chemicals. These toxic mediators and free radicals are effective against pathogens; but, they also cause damage and produce premature aging effects to the body.

Neutrophil is hunting bacteria (biggest subgroup of white blood cells).

Phagocytic (germ-eating) neutrophil

What is the ALCAT Test?

The ALCAT Test™ is a biological immune-stimulation test. The whole blood (or, the white blood cells and the blood plasma) of a patient is confronted with as many as 400 different and individual food or chemical components. Defensive reactions of the white cells, particularly the neutrophils, which form the basis for micro inflammation and centers of inflammation, are observed by the test. This is a very effective first defense strategy against acute infections, but chronic activation can gradually lead to depletion of the immune system and a whole host of health disorders.

The ALCAT Test can assist as a valuable preventive tool by providing an individualized diet.

The innate/native immune defense

  • Slowly and delayed, symptoms may occur within an up to 72-hour delay.
  • Signs are often not clearly distinguished or obvious. (Although, sometimes) symptoms can also be felt immediately.
  • Intolerance promotes chronic inflammation and suppresses the immune system and metabolism.
  • Therefore, the effect of intolerance can affect the whole body.
  • Constantly ongoing defense responses of white blood cells cause chronic inflammatory processes in the body and a variety of health problems may develop.

Imitating what happens in the body

The direct interaction of the living white blood cells with the tested food extracts and chemical substances creates the conditions that are very close to what actually happens in the body when the food or substance is ingested or contact otherwise takes place. Hence, there is a strong correlation with ALCAT test results and clinical symptoms:

  • The neutrophils are the main line of defense of the body against bacteria, viruses or other potential invaders.
  • Neutrophils may also fight food components when interpreted as potentially dangerous or foreign. The result is inflammation. We call this process “Intolerance”.
  • Neutrophils are also responsible for the defense of germs and toxins, etc., and therefore also active in the digestive tract (especially the colon).
  • These relationships were recently proven by a group of researchers, Dr. Alessio Fasano et. al., from Harvard university, on the basis of gluten exposure.

How it works

The ALCAT system uses objective and precise electronic hematologic instrumentation to observe the reactions of leukocytes (white blood cells), which are challenged with different food and chemical extracts. The observed reactions indicate the strength of the immune systems’ response (if any) to that particular substance.

The instrumentation and the test substances are manufactured under rigorous ISO 13485 certified, US FDA inspected facilities, under current Good Manufacturing procedures.

If your blood reacts to a certain substance it produces an increase and decrease in size and number of these cells, which can be observed in the interfacing computer generated histogram. The exact degree of reaction can be detected by comparison between the cells without any food extract and the cells confronted with the food or other test substance.

Response example

The illustrations show the same reaction of the white blood cells to the tested food (lamb). The highly reactive cells swell and burst. Aggressive molecules and inflammation promoting messengers are released to “fight” the lamb meat.