Do you experience headaches, joint pains or unexplained aches? Has your doctor been unable to find a cause of your symptoms? One possibility is that you are reacting to something you are eating. Is food making you ill?

Allergy UK estimates that 45% of the UK population could be suffering with food intolerances. Food intolerances produce different physiological reactions than food allergies. Intolerances often result in the production of IgG antibodies by the immune system.

Often it is difficult to pinpoint the offending food, because unlike food allergy which produces an immediate response, food intolerance reactions can be delayed by several hours, or sometimes no reaction is noticed until the next day. The symptoms can be diverse and may be multiple.

One way to begin to detect food reactions is to keep a diet diary alongside a log containing information on your symptoms to see if you can see a pattern emerging.

Often people want to know about food intolerance testing; there are many laboratory tests available. Some tests require a pinprick of blood and test a number of foods. Hair tests are not a reliable way of detecting food intolerances. The most reliable lab test for this is one that uses ELISA technology. 

A useful way to detect food intolerances is the elimination and challenge approach. This method can be used when you or your practitioner has an indication of which foods might be problematic for you. Strict avoidance of an individual food is required, this takes real diligence as some food types can be found where you least expect them! This is especially the case with wheat and dairy produce.

When avoiding the suspect food you might find that your symptoms initially worsen, or you might crave the food you are trying to avoid. This usually passes within a few days and leads to your symptoms diminishing and eventually disappearing if they were caused by that particular food. The real test is when you re-introduce that food back into your diet after a period of avoidance of at least 2 weeks. At this point you should notice a quicker and stronger response to the food if it was the culprit. This approach is NOT recommended if you suffer from an immediate allergy response with a risk of an anaphylactic response.

In most instances, it isn’t necessary to avoid these foods long term. With guidance from a Nutritional Therapist you can discover the underlying imbalances that can lead to developing food intolerances. Often the intestinal lining has become permeable allowing food proteins to enter the bloodstream and promote an immune response. Other elements of the digestive process usually need to be addressed as well to ensure food is being properly digested and assimilated. An effective gut restoration plan can allow you to introduce these foods back into your diet without developing symptoms.

Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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