In today’s society, everyone has a friend or family member with a dairy, gluten, soy, nut or wheat intolerance. With food intolerance on the rise, I am frequently testing for food intolerances in my patients. This is mainly due to the fact that food intolerances play a major role in people’s health and symptoms. Once a patient had taken away the troublesome foods, their symptoms always seem to improve. In fact I have never had a patient who’s symptoms haven’t.
So why are food intolerances so common? The main reason is due to the (SAD) “Standard Australian Diet”, being so far from what we are designed to eat. We eat huge amounts of foods like wheat and dairy products which are often added into processed food without us even knowing and the majority of our diet is heavily processed. Our environment is filled with toxins that may upset our digestive health. Preservatives, chemicals, unfiltered water, overuse of medications and antibiotics are just a few things that can lead us to be more susceptible to food intolerances via disruption of the gut. We cant ignore the fact that there are also cases where genetic factors predispose us to intolerances too. Poorly functioning digestive system + imbalanced and overwhelmed immune response = the reason so many people suffer food intolerances today.
What are Food Intolerances?
Firstly its important to point out that they are very different to a food allergy.
Allergy – Immediate symptoms, usually more severe and obvious. Someone with a nut or egg allergy might have trouble breathing or break out in a rash. It also involves an antibody known as IgE reaction – more severe/immediate response.
Food Intolerance – This can be an IgG or IgA antibody reaction. It is an entirely different part of the immune system that actually responds. Reactions can occur immediately or up to 3-5 days following consumption of the food. There are different levels of reactions with intolerances too. The severity can depend on how well your digestive system is functioning and how much you have eaten. You may only have small amounts of food occasionally and experience little to no symptoms. You may have the food more regularly and symptoms tend to get worse and worse over time. Symptoms can be so delayed you can react days after the ingestion of the food which is why testing is so important, as it can be extremely hard to link your symptoms to a food. Not many of us would blame the egg that they had 3 days ago for their bloating and gas.
What Are the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?
Symptoms can be varied and broad. Most reactions occur in the digestive tract – pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, reflux, heartburn, nausea, constipation. Some other common symptoms include – skin problems (acne, eczema, hives, psoriasis), headaches/migraines. Asthma Sinusitis or hay fever are also common immune problems that tend to be associated with intolerances too. Some of the BIGGEST are fatigue, mood changes and poor sleep. I will often check for food intolerances in patience’s having a tough time losing weight.
Food Intolerance Testing
If you have any of the above symptoms it may be enough to suspect a food intolerance. Blood testing is the most accurate and fastest way to diagnose food intolerances and is what I would recommend. The other options is to do an elimination diet, in which you follow an extremely restricted diet for a period of about a month and then slowly reintroduce suspect foods, keeping an eye out for symptoms over the space of up to 4 months. Doing this thoroughly takes months – hence blood test being the best option.
The blood test provides a list of food that your body doesn’t like. We test the blood by taking a sample of blood via a finger prick and then provide a health plan specific to your needs and symptoms.
Concerned you may have a food intolerance? An easy test will help to give you all the answers you need. Without having to supplement or resort to medical treatment, you will get control over your symptoms and feel more empowered over your health. Please contact our Naturopath Hayley if you would like more information about food intolerance testing – firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also book in by calling 0420 644 852 book here. (Hayley is available on Wednesday Mornings).