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A few months ago my hair started to fall out. I began to notice a thinning along my temples and a widening of my part. Yes, a receding hairline was happening to me at the age of twenty-nine and needless to say I was freaking out. I began researching online hair loss causes and one culprit stood out – diet.

Aside from the occasional pizza or sweet treat indulgence, my diet is pretty healthy and consists of mainly organic, locally sourced foods. But around the time my hair woes began, I had made a drastic diet change – I become a vegetarian.

I was certain this change must be the root cause and went to Elysia Life Care to have a comprehensive blood panel done to check for a possible Iron deficiency or low B vitamin levels; both common in vegetarians/vegans and can contribute to hair loss. My test results came back surprisingly normal. All of my vitamin and mineral levels looked good, really good; I even had high iron (most likely due to the large amount of lentils and kale I was eating). While I was happy my labs came back positive and I could continue following a vegetarian lifestyle, we still weren’t any closer to solving my hair thinning problem.

Months went by and my hair continued to fall out. I began using Alterna’s Caviar Clinical Daily Root & Scalp Stimulator and Weekly Intensive Boosting Treatment. Both helped and I saw new hair growths sprout; but for every new hair, a cluster of old follicles would fall out. Something was wrong.

I went back to my acupuncturist, Maria Vallela, at Elysia Life Care and we decided to do a food sensitivity blood test panel to see if something in my diet was causing inflammation and subsequent hair loss.

Food Sensitivity
Unlike a food allergy, where the immune system overreacts to a food and produces an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes rashes, swelling, and respiratory problems, among other symptoms; a food intolerance or sensitivity can result from poor digestibility due to low enzyme levels, or from adverse chemical reactions to naturally occurring components in foods or their preservatives. The end results can be mild to severe and cause symptoms, such as indigestion, inflammation, or low grade skin reactions.

Testing
Blood tests are used to test for food sensitivities. The blood is tested against hundreds of different food proteins from various foods, such as milk, oats, soy, eggs, to name a few; and the antibody, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), which binds to each food is measured. A high IgG range is the mark of a food sensitivity or intolerance.

Mixed Reviews
While food sensitivity testing has become popular in the wellness and alternative medicine community, many medical practitioners are skeptical of the validity and consistency of food sensitivity testing. Because unlike an allergic reaction, intolerances and sensitivities may present themselves through various mechanisms other than IgG production, such as hypoglycemic reactions to sugars or refined carbs; non-IgE histamine release sometimes called pseudo allergic reactions; or enzyme deficiencies, which are hard to pinpoint. 

After reading mixed reviews on food sensitivity testing and the steep cost (ranging from $650 -$1,500), I was a little apprehensive, but trusted Maria to steer me in the right direction. My testing was done through Cyrex Laboratories, which tested my blood against over 130 organic, cooked and raw food samples. The results were astounding.

Out of all the foods tested, I only had two sensitivities – soy agglutinins and bean agglutinins (the protein in soy and beans). Basically, I have a high food sensitivity to legumes. Which sadly had been the only source of protein I had been eating three meals a day for six months! No wonder my hair was falling out.

Since cutting out legumes (and going back to eating seafood and some meat) my hair has noticeably started to grow back and thicken up along my hairline and secondary issues, like dry skin and breakouts have significantly lessened.

I’m really glad I opted to do food sensitivity testing, even though it was tough on my wallet, I’m not sure I would have discovered on my own that legumes (touted as one of the healthiest food sources) were causing my hair issues. But it’s true what they say, you can’t put a price on health …or a full head of hair.

-by Amy Chang
Image source: cypressfit

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