The problems with food intolerance testing

Food intolerance testing is something that is both raved about and stigmatised, with some questioning whether food intolerance are actually ‘a thing’. Food intolerances certainly do exist but quite often removal of these problem foods is expected to solve all problems when in fact the real problem is why you developed these intolerances in the first place.

The problems with food intolerance testing

There are many problems associated with testing for food intolerances and it’s important that you do not fall into these traps.

  • Intolerance tests analyse an immune reaction, where antibodies are elevated due to the presence of certain problem foods. Cheaper tests only test for one type of immune reaction (IgG). If you are having an IgE reaction to a food then this will be missed.
  • Foods that you eat a lot of can cause high levels of antibodies even if they are not a problem food, meaning you’d remove them from your diet unnecessarily.
  • There isn’t much research for support the validity or accuracy of finger prick tests and vibration tests.
  • Tests usually come back with so many problem foods that you are supposed to remove that it makes eating a balanced diet difficult.

When is food intolerance testing appropriate?

There are occasions when I do recommend testing for food intolerance - especially when removal of a certain food may be difficult. With most food intolerances, removal of foods will produce noticeable improvements to health after just a few weeks. Therefore a supervised elimination diet is useful. The majority of the time, testing for gluten intolerance can take six months before improvements are noticed as a result of removal of gluten. That’s a long time to wait if you are unsure whether there’s a problem or not!

Can you overcome food intolerance?

In many cases, food intolerance is caused by an imbalanced gut, and therefore, completing a gut healing protocol can lead to you overcoming your food intolerance. I’ve seen it happen many times although, it’s not always possible. It’s also important to mention that removal of problem foods should always be done alongside a gut healing protocol, as symptoms may persist or other food intolerances may develop whilst the gut is imbalanced.

What to do next

If you have a food intolerance or any associated health problems, I believe it's not just a case of removing the problem foods. We need to establish why you developed the intolerance in the first place. It can be difficult to do this on your own and that’s why people go to see a nutritionist. 

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Braintree, Essex, CM77 8EU

Written by Louise Digby

Braintree, Essex, CM77 8EU

Louise Digby is a registered Nutritional Therapist, Life Coach and Metabolic Balance Coach, who practices in Essex and Suffolk, and is also available via Skype. Louise specialises in digestive concerns and chronic fatigue syndrome, and is passionate about supporting her clients in their journey back to optimal health.

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