According to Allergy UK an estimated 45% of the UK adult population have food intolerances and a further 2% suffer an allergy.
Symptoms of food intolerance can vary from mild bloating and wind to severe migraines, low mood, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, and skin rashes, with the effects often not being visible until 2 or 3 days after a problem food has been eaten.
Diagnosis of food intolerance can be tricky especially if a reaction to the food doesn’t occur immediately. Keeping a ‘Food, Mood & Movement Tracker’ for a month can help as it may be possible to notice links between what has been eaten and any symptoms that later occur. Observing lifestyle factors such as stress and sleep patterns is also important. For women, symptoms may be influenced by the menstrual cycle.
Food intolerances can be caused by different factors, including;
– Inadequate digestion: for example low levels of lactase, the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose, can cause lactose intolerance.
– Excess histamine: we all have histamine in our bodies as it’s a vital chemical messenger and neurotransmitter BUT chronic stress and poor digestion can impair histamine breakdown causing levels to build up. Eating foods high in histamine can then cause problems.
– Reactions to pesticides in foods: your liver has a hard time dealing with pesticide residues and their pervasive effects can contribute to all kinds of health issues. Organic foods may not be widely available (or affordable) but do choose them if you can.
The Environmental Working Group produce a fantastic ‘Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen’ list detailing which foods are best bought organic due to high pesticide load, and which are okay to eat as non-organic. You can access the guide here.
– Reactions to naturally occuring compounds like alkaloids in the Deadly Nightshade family.
– An imbalanced response by your immune system. Our immune system is a complex team of cells and chemical messengers that can overreact to certain proteins in foods, causing either a strong immediate life-threatening reaction (an allergic response) or a more low-grade chronic response: a food sensitivity or intolerance.
It is thought that Ig-G antibodies are involved in some kinds of sensitivity reactions. Measuring levels of Ig-G can give clues as to which foods may be over-stimulating the immune system.
In Clinic I use a simple pin-prick ELISA blood test to help identify whether your immune system is producing too many Ig-G antibodies to certain foods, which may then be aggravating your symptoms. There are a range of tests available from the basic Food Detective Test that looks at reactions to the top 59 reactive foods and gives results within an hour, to the more in-depth FoodPrint tests which are laboratory analysed.
To find out more information on food intolerances or ELISA testing, call or email me today on;
T: 07910 705272