Do you regularly feel discomfort or bloating after eating certain foods? Is your life disrupted with constant cycles of constipation and diarrhoea, with your insides feeling raw? Does your skin regularly feel irritated or your joints sore? Do you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines? All these health issues can be symptoms of a food intolerance, or at least a contributing factor.
While less than 2% of the population suffer from food allergies, it is estimated that more than 20% of the population suffer from food intolerance. Food intolerances can affect anyone at any age, (we commonly work with children who have an intolerance to food) but since symptoms often occur some time after the food has been eaten it can be difficult to find the problem food. Years of research has found the basis of what causes allergy and food intolerance. Poor digestion causes your immune system to begin to attack partially digested components within the food that "leak" through the intestine and can migrate around the body. Sometimes that partially digested components lodge in the intestinal wall, sometimes in a membrane around a joint or even the brain. Antibodies quickly find these components and indicate to the rest of the bodies and this triggers the immune system and causes inflammation. Inflammation causes irritation: soreness, pain and swelling
There are many techniques that have been developed through the years to determine food intolerances. Some techniques were developed before scientists discovered the immune response, for example muscle reflex testing, and acupuncture. These techniques increasingly use electronic signal processors to improve their accuracy. However, these techniques can be still be compared to using a piece of seaweed for weather prediction. It takes someone with extremely good powers of judgement to understand a muscle reflex or voltage change due to a food sample being contacted with the skin. We often meet with patients who have been tested and told they are intolerance to a wide range of staple foods, fruit and vegetables. Their symptoms can improve sometimes but they often end up with a very unbalanced diet.
A more modern and clinically proven technique looks at the root cause of the food intolerance symptoms, the immune system. Indeed, a clinical trial of immune system tests found that most people with IBS that avoided the foods suggested by an immune test had their symptoms significantly improved. These tests do need a blood sample. With the right training, blood sampling is virtually painless and takes a few seconds. A sterile finger pricker lances the skin and a blood drop appears. The drop is collected and that is that, you don't really need a dressing and its hard to see where the blood came from a minute later. That small blood sample is taken and the levels of the antibody determined by a laboratory. Some tests need to be sent away (york test). Our specialist practice in Inverness has a small lab where the tests can be done whilst you wait (
food intolerance testing inverness), taking less than one hour. The food intolerance test results are very unambiguous and can be used to guide an elimination diet with some certainty.
The immune (blood) testing is a lot more accurate than the old fashioned ways of testing. Sometimes people go through the mill, completely unnecessarily.
A patient (Mr. M.) came to us with a huge list of things he was told to not eat by an electronic muscle reflex test. He was an active young male who was told to avoid all grains, milk, nuts and yeast. He was suffering from rhinitis (blocked nose that would not go away) and had followed his food avoidance diet based on the electronic results and his symptoms had still not got any better. A big issue for him was that he used to like going out with his friends to go for pizza and have a few beers. He had lost a lot of weight and felt hungry all the time because of his active job.
I blood tested him and found that he gave a very weak positive result to oats and yeast (so weak it took imagination to see the positive blue spot on the test plate). So he had put up with not being able to go get a pizza, not being able to pop out for a sandwich at lunchtime and spent a lot his time being starving (active outdoor job in Scotland - you need food!!) for no particular reason at all.
So he is now back onto a balanced diet again and can enjoy a beer this Christmas.
If you have been electronically tested and given a big list of foods that you are intolerant to, it might be a good idea to get a second test done somewhere else perhaps by the immune method and compare the results.
Dr. Richard Day Bsc.