We can carry out certain food sensitivity and intolerance tests right here at The Body Matters in Leigh-on-Sea, Southend. First though, let us clarify the terminology, as it can be confusing.
Food Allergies, Sensitivities and Intolerances
According to Allergy UK, true food allergies are caused when the body mistakenly produces a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), mounting an immune response to defend the body against what it perceives a harmful intruder.
It is quite rare and usually causes symptoms within a few minutes of eating the offending food or sometimes even just after contact with the skin or mucosal surfaces of the mouth or throat. The symptoms are usually easily recognised as allergic, for example a red raised itchy rash (urticarial), wheezing, swelling of the throat, wheezing, vomiting, severe gastro-intestinal symptoms or (very rarely) sudden collapse. Sufferers may experience anaphylactic shock. Common problem foods are peanuts, fish, seafood, fruits or celery.
As the onset is very soon after contact with the food in question, patients are usually able to identify what it was quite easily. But even if you think that you know what it was, you should get tested, as a) you could be mistaken or b) there can be cross-reactions, i. e. you react to similar/related foods as well that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
There are reliable blood tests and skin prick tests, available through the NHS, which can accurately confirm the presence or absence of a food allergy.
Symptoms can be minor at first, but be very severe if the offending food is ingested again. It is possible to suddenly react to something you have always been able to eat in the past. If you suspect that you may have a food allergy, please make an appointment with your GP and avoid the food until you have been tested and allergy has been confirmed or ruled out. True food allergies can be life threatening!
We can test for certain types of:
Like food allergy, food intolerance can be an immune response, albeit to different kinds of antibodies (most commonly IgG) and symptoms are much less severe.
The onset of symptoms after ingestion of the offending food can start hours or even days after the food has been eaten. This makes it very difficult for sufferers to pinpoint the cause.
Symptoms are very varied and can affect any part of the body, for example:
- irritable bowel
- joint pain
- chronic fatigue/ME
- rheumatoid arthritis
- weight gain
Unlike food allergies, food intolerance can go away, but it is important to understand that an IgG food intolerance is a symptom of increased intestinal permeability, often referred to as ‘leaky gut’. Apart from avoiding the foods you are intolerant to it is crucial to also follow a Gut Repair Programme to heal the digestive system.
Merely avoiding the foods you are intolerant to is not enough. If you do not address your intestinal health, you may just become intolerant to more and/or different foods.
Other Food Intolerances
There are other food intolerances that have a physiological (rather than immunological) cause. A food intolerance occurs when
- your body lacks a particular enzyme to digest nutrients (e. g. lactase to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk) or,
- a particular nutrient cannot be digested properly (e. g. gluten in Coeliac disease) or,
- nutrients are too abundant to be digested completely.
If you have had a test for IgG food intolerances and it was negative, you may be experiencing one of the above.
Symptoms of this kind of food intolerances are likely gastro-intestinal and are usually a result of the fermentation of sugar by the gut flora, leading to the production of gas. This could be:
- abdominal pain
- irregular bowel movements
Food Intolerance Testing
The most reliable way to test whether or not you are sensitive to certain foods is an elimination-challenge, ideally carried out under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Unlike blood tests, an elimination-challenge captures any kind of food reaction, whether it is immune-mediated or not. Moreover, there is no extra cost. However, it is common to be sensitive to more than one food at a time, which can make elimination-challenges very time consuming and difficult.
Another option is to run a food intolerance test.
At The Body Matters, we have access to a number of private laboratories to assess your health. Functional testing may help us find the reason for your symptoms, whether you are heading for future problems or whether your programme is working. They can also serve as a great motivator to make changes. The therapist will advise on the most appropriate test(s) for your condition.
Contact us to find out which tests are available and whether they are suitable for you.
Call 01702 714968 for more information about food sensitivity and intolerance testing in Southend.