One of the most common questions I get asked via email is this:

“Do you do allergy testing?”

Allergy and intolerances are completely different. In this blog I talk about food intolerances – an intolerance is typically a delayed reaction by the immune system which gives unpleasant symptoms rather than the immediate life-threatening type.

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening. If you have any allergies, you will no doubt be fully aware of them and have these diagnosed by a medical professional.

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

Symptoms of food intolerances

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea; symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

● Chronic muscle or joint pain

● Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

● Headaches or migraines

● Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep

● Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis

● Rashes or eczema

● Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”

● Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

● Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).

● Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-coeliac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both, are a source of your symptoms.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

What if it doesn’t work?

Food intolerance is a complicated subject and for this reason I would usually suggest an initial appointment to go through your symptoms. It may seem easier to get tested but before you go spending your hard-earned cash, I can ascertain whether or not you actually need a test or if you need to have your symptoms checked by your GP.

In my many years of experience I find that making changes to the diet to reduce the load on the digestive tract can make a huge difference to a person’s symptoms. However, for some people they want to be tested and this is also fine.

The test I use is a blood test. This measures the immune response in your blood and gives me a value, so I can see how much your body is reacting. This has many benefits over the traffic light system tests as it can tell me exactly which food is causing the most problem and by how much.

There are a number of options with regards to testing. I would always recommend an indicator test first. This costs just £15 and will tell us if you are reacting to food. It will not tell us which foods. This is a very affordable way of knowing if you do have an issue with food without having the expense of a full test. The test is done via a pin prick blood test and is sent to one of Europe’s top labs for food intolerance testing. The results come back within a week and then we can decide what to do next.

If your test comes back negative then it will be a case of getting your diet as healthy as possible, reviewing any lifestyle issues or past medical problems that may have affected or be affecting your digestive symptom and correcting any imbalances etc. This will all be done via full support from me. Changes will always be made as simple as possible and achievable for you based on your lifestyle and schedule.

If your test comes back positive, then we will need to get the actual foods tested. The cost depends on how many foods you need testing. To give you an idea 40 foods tested cost around £110 and over 200 foods costs just under £300.

Once I have your test results, I will help you to adjust your diet and support you through changes. It does not necessarily mean you will need to exclude this food forever so support is very important to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need. You may need to do some gut healing work and address some lifestyle issues. I will always aim to make changes as easy as possible to implement.

If you would like to discuss with me which is the best option for you then we can schedule a free 15-minute phone call HERE.



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