This is a hot topic! More and more of us are wondering if we are sensitive to some of the foods we eat.
And after 14 years as a therapist I am convinced that many of us are – and I have seen countless people turn their health around by changing what they eat.
Some of the most common symptoms caused by food intolerances are:
- Irritable bowel
- Migraines and headaches
- Skin problems
- Respiratory issues
- Runny nose
- Stomach ache
- Joint pain
But, first of all, I need to define food intolerance – this is not the same as a food allergy. A food allergy is a true allergic reaction to a food.
An allergic reaction means that:
the immune system produces specific IgE antibodies (immune globulins of the subclass E). These antibodies lead to an immediate allergic reaction causing the release of histamine . The symptoms appear within seconds or minutes: severe swelling, breathing difficulty, rash, itching skin or even anaphylactic shock.
Eight foods account for about 90 percent of all food-allergy reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat/gluten, soy, fish and shellfish.
Someone who has a true allergy will most probably know which food is causing problems, because the symptoms appear right away. Your G.P. can offer you an IgE test – but they are mainly performed for confirmation.
In contrast a food intolerance – also known as food sensitivity – is likely to be causing the release of IgG antibodies.
IgG antibodies can be released due to a food intolerance / sensitivity. This is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction in which symptoms appear anywhere from hours to days after eating the offending food.
IgG testing – offered by many companies – the most well know of which are York tests – has been discredited in a BBC investigation – this may be because not all of the food intolerances produce an IgG reaction – or the test itself maybe flawed.
Other commonly advertised ways to identify food intolerance(s) include:
the Vega testing method – with a very impressive looking machine – which was discredited during a BBC investigation;
And hair testing and Applied Kinesiology – neither of which has any validity when judged by conventional science – though I have tried both – and found the applied kinesiology results in keeping with what I knew of my body and its reactions – the hair testing results were most bizarre!
So in summary, I would say:
- food intolerances are real and cause symptoms
- the various test offered are all unreliable – though some of the foods they identify may indeed be better avoided – no test currently available will offer a reliable, comprehensive and true analysis of what an individual is sensitive to / intolerant of.
A much more reliable and true method of identifying what food stuffs are not supportive of our health and optimum functioning is an elimination diet. But a truly effective elimination diet is time consuming and not for the faint hearted! – you will need a lot of will power and your social life maybe tricky for a while! Sorry not to be able to offer you an easy quick answer – but sometimes life is like that – if I wanted to make a quick buck I’d offer one of the tests in my clinic and tell you it was brilliant – but I would be lying – and that’s not how I do things 🙂