Food Intolerance Testing

Wellness Vision, Newcastle

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Testing for Food Intolerances

Food intolerances can cause a range of different symptoms making them difficult to identify.  

Which foods do we test?

We can test for 46 commonly eaten foods during your consultation. Foods tested include:

  • Cereals – Corn, Durum Wheat, Gluten, Oats, Rice, Rye, Wheat
  • Legumes – Cocoa Bean, Peanuts, Legume Mix (Pea, Lentils, Haricot Beans), Soya Beans
  • Meats – Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork
  • Fish – Freshwater Fish Mix (Salmon, Trout), Shellfish Mix (Shrimp, Prawns, Crab, Lobster, Mussels), Tuna and White Fish Mix (Haddock, Cod, Plaice)
  • Nuts – Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Walnuts
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Leek, Capsicum (red, green, yellow), Potatoes
  • Fruits – Apples, Blackcurrants, Grapefruit, Melon Mix (Cantalope, Watermelon), Olives, Orange and Lemon, Strawberries and Tomatoes
  • Other – Egg (whole), Cow’s Milk, Garlic, Ginger, Mushrooms, Tea, Yeast

This test is highly suitable for children, as only a small blood sample is taken from the finger using a tiny disposable lancet (they won’t even see the needle) and we are armed with stickers and “funky” band-aids, should they be required. We can also order food intolerance testing for hundreds of different foods, food additives, environmental chemicals, moulds and other environmental inhalants, however these tests require blood collection at a pathology centre.

Food Intolerance or Allergy, what is the difference?

Food intolerances are quite common and it is estimated that up to 45% of the population may experience them. Many people with food intolerance have more than one symptom and react to more than one food. It is important to mention that food intolerances may not be the main cause of your symptoms as they may be a secondary effect of leaky gut (or intestinal permeability), however eliminating moderate or severely reactive foods whilst healing our gut can give you some much needed relief. Our aim is to reduce symptoms, heal your gut and then gradually reintroduce these foods to build tolerance and ensure you are eating a wide variety of foods as quickly as possible. In our opinion, long-term restrictive diets generally do more harm than good. 

Symptoms of food intolerances can be vague and delayed, making it very difficult to elicit the problem food or foods. When someone with a food intolerance is exposed to their problem food, they may not have a reaction for a number of hours or even days. Also, the severity of the reaction may vary, with some people having minor symptoms such as feeling tired or having a foggy head, while others have urgent diarrhoea or migraine. Many people don’t realise that the symptoms they have been experiencing are due to food intolerances, until they remove the offending food/s and notice their persistent symptoms disappear.

The symptoms of food intolerances can be delayed for many hours or even days, making it difficult to identify the problem foods.

In contrast, food allergies are quite rare, with only about 2.5% of the population being diagnosed with the condition. The most common instances of food allergy are to wheat, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts), eggs, milk, fish and shellfish. When someone who is allergic is exposed to the provoking food, their body makes specific antibodies (IgE) to “attack” the allergens found in these foods, so when the food is next eaten it triggers an immune system response, which results in the release of histamine and other inflammatory naturally-occurring chemicals. Allergic reactions to food can vary considerably in their presentation and severity from hayfever to anaphylaxis (airway closure) and generally require long-term (or even life-long) elimination. 

How does this test vary from the common skin scratch test?

The scratch test screens for IgE allergy reactions and the procedure involves a small amount of the food (or environmental irritant) being placed just under the skin. If the skin reacts to that particular food, then it is deemed an allergy, with the stronger the reaction the more severe the allergy.

Food intolerance testing measures reactions by a different antibody called IgG, and this test requires a small amount of blood from a finger prick. This blood is then prepared and added to a special testing tray containing individual wells with the protein extracts of the foods being tested. In subsequent steps, different solutions are added resulting in a colour change, depending of the severity of the reaction. If you have an intolerance to the food, the IgG antibodies in your blood will bind to the specific food spot resulting in a colour change. The more antibodies present in your blood, the darker the colour change. On the other hand, if there is no colour change we know that your blood didn’t contain an antibody to the food tested. The tray is for single use only and also contains a positive and negative control to ensure the viability of the test.

It is possible to be both allergic and intolerant to the same food, however this is not always the case.

Why don’t you recommend hair testing for intolerances?

Hair intolerance testing has recently become popular however there appears to be no scientific evidence to support it and we could not find any rational explanations on how it works or on its “potential” accuracy. Testing companies apparently test for energy changes in the hair (according to homeopathic principles) and “some how” link this to specific reactions to foods. Considering that hair is actually not living, it is difficult for us to grasp how you can measure energy changes to hundreds of different food potentially eaten months ago (especially since hair takes a long time to grow).

Food intolerances are likely a result of a leaky gut

Food intolerances are highly linked with intestinal permeability (or leaky gut). Damage to the gut lining can result in larger protein molecules crossing into your blood stream and triggering your immune system to produce IgG antibodies against the “invading” food. Therefore healing your gut can also reduce or eliminate your intolerance to that food. That is why you should always work to improve your gut health and not just eliminate reactive foods.

Symptoms of food intolerances may include:

  • Anxiety and/or heart palpitations
  • Arthritis and Joint pain
  • Asthma
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Diarrhoea especially with urgency
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastritis, reflux or heart burn
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Incontinence (fecal and urinary) – may include bed wetting
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Eczema or dermititis
  • Malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Fluid Retention
  • Weight Control Problems
  • Brain fog and poor concentration

Book an Initial Functional Medicine Consultation

An Initial Functional Medicine Consultation is 120 minutes. You work with our functional medicine practitioner and clinical nutritionist/wellness coach to dig deeply and identify the underlying cause of your current health concerns. See the ‘Consultations’ tab for details. You will leave with a new outlook and a personal treatment plan to get you started.