Inflammatory markers you need to know in food allergy testing

Living with an autoimmune disease can feel like navigating a maze with invisible walls. Every twist and turn might trigger symptoms, making it challenging to pinpoint the exact cause. 


Food sensitivities are a common but often overlooked factor in this puzzle. An issue I see many of my clients struggling with is that they begin to react to many different foods and don’t know what to eat. And worse, they become fearful of food. 

Traditional testing methods frequently fall short, leaving many grappling with unexplained symptoms. 

However, recently, I started using a new type of food reactivity testing with my clients - enter the P88 antigen test, a comprehensive tool that shines a light on the intricacies of your body’s response to food. 

This advanced test delves into IgG, IgG4, complement, and IgE reactions, offering a clearer insight into which foods might trigger inflammation for those with autoimmune conditions. I want to share with you why these markers are so crucial for improving health and reducing food sensitivities. 

Why food reactivity is far more than just an IgG response

Food sensitivities differ from food allergies in that they typically trigger delayed responses rather than immediate reactions. 

While allergies involve the immune system’s rapid response (often through IgE antibodies), sensitivities can engage various immune components, leading to symptoms that manifest hours or even days after consumption. These reactions can contribute to chronic inflammation, exacerbate autoimmune symptoms, and degrade quality of life.

The P88 test, developed by Precision Point Diagnostics, stands out by providing a multifaceted view of food reactivities. It not only evaluates IgG antibodies, which are commonly tested for in food sensitivity tests, but it also tests for IgG4 antibodies, IgE antibodies, and complement proteins. 

IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies are a critical component of your immune response. They can indicate a delayed sensitivity to certain foods, often leading to chronic inflammation and contributing to autoimmune flare-ups. By identifying IgG responses, the P88 test helps you recognise which foods might stealthily aggravate your condition.

A subclass of IgG, IgG4 antibodies, can reveal different aspects of food sensitivities. While elevated IgG4 levels might sometimes suggest tolerance, in the context of autoimmune disease, they can indicate chronic exposure and a regulatory response gone awry. This distinction is crucial for crafting an effective elimination diet, and it is typically not tested for in other food sensitivity tests. 

The complement system enhances the ability of antibodies to clear pathogens and damaged cells. When foods activate the complement system, it can increase inflammation and tissue damage. 

By assessing complement activity, the P88 test helps uncover foods that might trigger this immune pathway, contributing to the vicious cycle of inflammation.

To illustrate complement effects on the immune system, imagine your immune system as a well-orchestrated symphony, designed to protect and heal. Within this symphony, complement acts like the percussion section—a series of drums and cymbals that add dramatic intensity to the music. 

When functioning correctly, the percussion section enhances the symphony's rhythm, driving the melody of immune defence. However, if the percussion section plays too loudly or at the wrong moments, it can overshadow the rest of the orchestra, creating a jarring and discordant performance.

In the context of inflammation, complement activation can heighten the inflammatory response by a significant margin. Studies show that complement involvement can amplify inflammation by up to 50% or more. It does this by amplifying the signals that recruit other immune cells to the site of inflammation, akin to how loud percussion cues other instruments to play more intensely.

An overactive complement can damage healthy tissues, similar to how overzealous drumming can disrupt the harmony of the orchestra, making the inflammation more severe and prolonged.

Therefore, understanding and managing complement activation is crucial for reducing the inflammatory cacophony in autoimmune diseases and achieving a balanced immune response. It’s an absolutely vital marker in autoimmune health, but clinicians often do not test for it. 

Lastly, and what I believe is most important, are the IgE antibodies tested for in the P88 antigen test. Traditionally associated with immediate allergic reactions, IgE antibodies can also play a role in certain food sensitivities. 

IgE is a key player in allergic reactions and can trigger histamine release when it binds to allergens. And recently, I am seeing more and more clients who are having issues with histamine intolerance. 

In cases of histamine intolerance, the body produces or accumulates more histamine than it can efficiently break down, often exacerbated by IgE-mediated responses. When exposed to an allergen, IgE antibodies bind to it and activate mast cells and basophils, leading to the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators.

This process can overwhelm your body's capacity to degrade histamine, resulting in symptoms like headaches, hives, digestive issues, nasal congestion, and flushing. 

For those with histamine intolerance, this heightened response can cause ongoing discomfort and complicate the management of other health conditions, including autoimmune diseases. 

The P88 test includes IgE evaluation to ensure that any potential food allergies are identified alongside sensitivities, providing a comprehensive view of your immune responses.

Why this matters for autoimmune disease

For those with autoimmune diseases, managing inflammation is key. 

The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, causing a range of symptoms from fatigue and pain to more severe organ damage. Food sensitivities can fuel this autoimmune fire by contributing to systemic inflammation and immune system overactivity.

The P88 test goes beyond the surface, offering personalised insights into how your body interacts with various foods. Unlike standard tests that only look at IgG-mediated sensitivities, the P88’s broad scope captures the full spectrum of immune responses, making it an invaluable tool for me as a clinician helping those with autoimmune conditions.

Armed with detailed information from the P88 test, you can make targeted dietary changes you know are right for you rather than using a scattergun or overly restricted approach. 

You can reduce inflammation and potentially alleviate symptoms by eliminating foods that trigger your immune system. This precision helps avoid the guesswork often associated with elimination diets, which can be particularly beneficial when dealing with the complexities of autoimmune disease.

By understanding and addressing food sensitivities, you contribute to a more comprehensive management plan that targets the root causes of inflammation rather than just masking symptoms.

Real-life impact: success stories

Consider a recent client of mine, a 42-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis. Despite following a general anti-inflammatory diet, her flare-ups persisted. After taking the P88 test, she discovered sensitivities to seemingly benign foods like cucumber, almonds and spinach. Adjusting her diet based on these findings led to a significant reduction in her symptoms, and then as she started to feel better, we started to work on other areas of her health to help her go from strength to strength. 

Or take Rob, who struggled with unexplained fatigue and joint pain due to psoriatic arthritis. His P88 results revealed a strong IgG response to dairy and gluten. Eliminating these foods transformed his energy levels and helped stabilise his condition, and now he is able to enjoy golf and his life again. 

If you’re navigating the challenges of an autoimmune disease, exploring food sensitivities might be the key to unlocking better health. 

The P88 test offers a detailed map of your immune responses to food, providing actionable insights that can make a profound difference in your recovery. 

By understanding and addressing food sensitivities, you can take control of your health and move closer to a life with fewer flare-ups so you can begin to build a stronger, more robust immune system for the long term. 

If you would like to learn more about my services you can book a free introductory consultation with me here. 

You can also download my free guide, The Autoimmunity Recovery Plan if you want to start taking meaningful steps for your autoimmune health today.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London W1G & Harrogate HG1
Written by V. J. Hamilton, Autoimmune Disease Expert | BSc (Immunology), DipION, mBANT
London W1G & Harrogate HG1

After 25 years of suffering from multiple autoimmune conditions including alopecia, psoriasis and CFS, VJ discovered she could uncover the root cause of her issues to transform her health & live without symptoms.

VJ now uses these same principles to help those with autoimmune diseases regain their strength & live a whole and symptom-free life.

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