Nutritionist Micki Rose follows up Dr Albert Robbins' recent SIgA article with some practical advice
I read with interest the article from Dr Albert Robbins about SIgA recently and thought you might like to know how to find out if your own levels are low, and what you can do about it if they are.
In practice, if I find a person is not able to fight off infections, candida or resolve allergies, SIgA is one of the first factors I look at. It gives a good picture of how strong the body’s mucosal immunity is and, if you like, how much ‘fight’ that person has to complete the job.
In this follow-up piece, we will recap a bit about SIgA, then look specifically at testing and treatment.
SIgA: Allergy, Candida, Infection And Leaky Gut
Secretory IgA (SIgA) is the main immunoglobulin in mucus secretions. The intestinal cells produce about 2-3g of SIgA every day and production tends to peak in childhood and start to decline after about sixty years old.
Many people think of mucus as being in the nose and sinuses, but actually there is much more in the gut. A sticky lining of mucus is our first-line defence against gastro-intestinal pathogens like bacteria, food proteins, parasites, fungi, toxins and viruses.
SIgA shouldn’t be confused with IgA, a related antibody that is commonly checked via blood tests along with IgE and IgG in immunity and allergy problems. Secretory IgA is quite independent of blood IgA levels and, just because one seems OK, it doesn’t mean the other is, so it’s always worth checking SIgA if IgA blood tests look normal and vice versa.
In my experience, if low levels continue, this then starts to drain adrenal function as the body struggles to cope and the person becomes more and more tired over time. This is why often an adrenal test is done with an SIgA test alongside as the two do tend to go hand in hand.
Occasionally, we find high levels of SIgA and this points more to an inflamed gut or to an acute immune response to some sort of ongoing infection. You can then check this with a gut inflammation test called PNM Elastase, which can also be done via a stool test. In fact, quite often the best route for testing is to do one stool test and check SIgA, leaky gut and PNM Elastase at the same time. At the time of writing, this costs around £100 and can be arranged through a nutritionist or online.
The good news is that lowering stress, making lifestyle changes and supporting your nutrition can all have a positive effect on your SIgA levels.
It generally takes a good 4-6 months to make a difference, but consistency is the key. In some cases where SIgA levels are very low and don’t want to come up easily, it can take years and then all you can do is support the immune system as much as possible whilst you hunt down the hidden ‘drainers’ we mentioned before.
I tend to think of these tough cases as having layers of issues that are pulling the immune system down. For example, often I have to correct a candida, bacterial or parasitic infection (or all three, yikes!), boost adrenal and thyroid output, augment cellular and liver detoxification, detoxify heavy metals, kill latent viruses, eliminate allergens as much as I can, re-heal a leaky gut, improve absorption and re-nourish a run-down person with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. That’s a big job, but sometimes those layers have to be knocked off one by one to remove all the pressures from the immune system. Thankfully, most low SIgA levels come up a lot easier than that!
Phew. Sounds complex and sometimes it is. However, it IS easy to find if you have an SIgA problem and if you suffer from chronic immunity issues like allergy and intolerance, it could be a very big key to achieving improvement. SIgA tests are cheap as chips compared to the knowledge they give you – about £40-£50 usually – so get yours organised and may all your levels balance quickly! Good luck.
First published in 2011
• If this article was of interest you will find many other articles on unlikely allergies and allergy connections here – and links to many relevant research studies here.