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There are many methods and tests available to try to identify food intolerances including skin prick testing (SPT), blood tests such as ALCAT and York Test (IgG), Vega electrodermal, eye, hair, nail analysis, kinesiology and dowsing.  However, the only certain method is elimination and reintroduction of the suspect food.  This takes time and effort; the suspect foods are removed from your diet for several weeks until all the symptoms resolve and are then reintroduced one by one and the reactions monitored.  Serious allergies or celiac disease should be confirmed with specialist tests via your GP and gastroenterologist.

The only other tests that have shown reliability and repeatability are SPT and the blood tests (ALCAT and YorkTest). But although a negative result from these tests is around 95% accurate, a positive test is only about 50% accurate therefore they are best used to identify the most likely suspects followed by an elimination diet.

Food Allergy and Intolerance

Food Allergy is a rapid, potentially severe response causing symptoms such as rash, wheezing, nausea and vomiting. It is usually easy to identify the culprit (e.g. nuts, fish, dairy, eggs).

Oral Allergy Syndrome affects hay fever sufferers causing a sore mouth in response to eating certain raw fruits or vegetables (e.g. apples, carrots, celery)

Coeliac disease is caused by an autoimmune reaction by the gut wall to gluten (the protein in wheat, rye and barley) that damages the gut and causes diarrhoea, bloating and anaemia.  Milder reactions to gluten have now  also been shown in many people who do not test positive for Coeliac Disease and may be one of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome.

Food intolerances are often harder to identify as the body response is usually slower (1 hour to 3 days), more vague and can be caused by a wide range of foods, additives or toxins.

For the purposes of this article I am referring to food-induced sensitivities; however the advice on strengthening your body’s defences may also help with other autoimmune and allergy related problems such as atopic asthma, eczema, hay fever, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.

Food Allergy or Intolerance?

Identifying allergies and food Intolerances

Food intolerances are often perpetuated by inadequate (or over-reactive) immune defences caused by a nutritionally poor diet (often just following the elimination and reintroduction diet allows the body to heal and become able to cope with formerly problematic foods).

Refined and processed foods tend to not only be nutritionally deficient, but also use up extra nutrients in their digestion. Fibre is necessary for healthy gut function and also the production of certain vitamins.

A healthy immune system requires plenty of vitamins and minerals which act as enzymes and co-factors in the production of strong gut linings as a first defence against problem food stuffs (you may have heard of “leaky gut syndrome”), healthy white blood cells to deal with those that do get through and balanced brain and stress hormones to provide an effective (and not over-reactive) immune response.

I recommend avoiding grains and cereals, particularly those containing gluten, avoiding dairy and eggs and any other known intolerances, but to eat plenty of quality, digestible protein in the form of meat, fish and meat broths and plenty of green and coloured leafy vegetables (only cooked if your gut is very weak).

This nutritious diet will help your gut to heal and may mean in some (lucky!) people that they may be able to re-introduce some of the avoidance foods after a number of months.  However, gluten has such a negative effect on the gut lining  that I recommend anyone who has had an issue with food intolerances to continue to avoid it indefinitely.

How to strengthen your body defences

food intolerances

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