A lot of people have asked for my advice regarding food intolerance tests so I thought I’d put together a post.
The number of people who believe they have a food intolerance has risen dramatically over recent years. An intolerance is when your body has difficulty digesting certain foods resulting in bloating, diarrhoea, or stomach cramps etc. It’s hard to know how many people are truly affected as the cause of their symptoms might be down to something else. They are also being used as an excuse for weight gain (maybe you’re bloated because you ate too much?)
The wellness industry has resulted in people turning to unqualified health bloggers and celebrities for their nutrition advice which is often anecdotal. People are now restricting their diets and claiming to have food intolerances because it’s now “trendy” to do so. Eliminating foods from our diet seems to be the main focus and the route to optimum health, rather than thinking about what we could be including to improve our overall diet?
Food allergies on the other hand are more serious and avoiding specific foods is vital. They occur when the body’s immune system mistakes proteins found in specific food as a threat, which can cause life threatening anaphylaxis. Other symptoms include itching, rashes, swelling of the face (lips, tongue, around the eyes) and vomiting. Unlike a food allergy, a food intolerance is never life threatening and symptoms usually come on much slower.
Food Intolerance Tests
There are no tests for food intolerances. Thousands of people are being ripped off by clinics and practitioners charging for different tests such as IgG blood test, Kinesiology, Hair analysis, Leucocytotoxic test, Cytotoxic test, Pulse test and Electrodermal (Vega) test (or whatever else). These tests will come back with a long list of foods to avoid but, the truth is, the tests are useless as they have no scientific basis. Take the IgG blood test for example. Presence of the IgG antibody of a certain food could merely mean somebody was recently exposed to it, not that they are sensitive in anyway.
Despite this, lack of education means people follow the advice given to them from their “diagnosis” as everyone is striving for that quick fix when it comes to health. This can result in cutting foods out of the diet unnecessarily, which could be dangerous. Nutrient deficiencies and disrupting the overall balance of the diet are potential risks, not to mention promoting disordered eating and creating anxiety around eating certain foods. Why would you want to stop eating loads of different foods if you don’t have to?
So what can you do?
If you suspect you have a food allergy then evidence based tests (blood tests or skin prick tests) that are performed by a registered health professional can be carried out. If you suspect you have a food intolerance then save your money for a start. Instead, try listening to your own body (which is unheard of these days, as it seems people would much rather listen to a random person on social media when it comes to knowing whats best for their own health). What you can do is keep a food diary to monitor your symptoms and the food you eat. Cut back on the suspected food for a while to see if symptoms improve and reintroduce it back into your diet to see if symptoms come back (good news is, you might be able to tolerate a certain amount of the food so no need to cut out completely).
Remember to do some research around other conditions as well and seek expert advice from a Registered Professional such as a Dietitian, Nutritionist or your GP. Irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease may be causing your symptoms and many digestive problems are actually a result of stress rather than diet.