It is important to explain the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance. Although people use the words interchangeably there is a major difference between the two.
The word allergy is derived from Greek with ‘allos’ meaning different and ‘ergos’ action so when something foreign enters our bodies it has to take action by responding to that alien substance. It is defined as a specific response by the immune system to a substance (inhaled, touched or eaten) that it mistakenly identifies as harmful. Well known examples would be very severe reactions to peanuts or shellfish where the response is immediate, doesn’t depend on how much of the food has been eaten and symptoms can include difficulty breathing, rashes, swelling, runny nose and possible anaphylactic shock which can be fatal.
The allergy triggers the release of IgE antibodies which attach to ‘mast’ cells and cause the release of histamine, the chemical which causes a contraction of the muscles around the air passages (an attack of breathlessness or asthma), local swelling and skin irritation, and, if the attack is serious enough, a drop in blood pressure. This type of allergy is tested by blood and looks at the levels of IgE antibodies.
There is another type of reaction to food called food intolerances and it is also known as food sensitivity. With these reactions there can be a delay in the onset of the symptoms (from 4-72 hours), and the foods are often eaten in larger amounts and more frequently. Symptoms can be varied, from bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and flatulence to lethargy, arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, eczema, joint and muscle pains, recurrent infections, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, water retention, headaches, migraines and generally feeling unwell.
This type of reaction can be broken down into three different types:
Lack of an enzyme
Lack of an Enzyme
People with this type of food intolerance don’t produce a particular enzyme that helps them breaks down a certain food. The most common one is lactose intolerance. Lactose is milk sugar and you have to have the enzyme lactase in order to breakdown the lactose otherwise it can cause common IBS symptoms as it sits fermenting in the gut causing pain, gas and bloating.
This is where the reaction is caused by a chemical within the food rather than you lacking an enzyme. One of the most common food intolerances due to this is caused by the chemical amines. For example, the amines contained in foods like cheese, citrus fruits, red wine, chocolate and coffee can trigger a migraine in some people by causing blood vessels to expand in those who are sensitive to these substances.
Food is normally broken-down during digestion and passes into your bloodstream through your gut. But partially digested foods can pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream and this sets up an immune response because your body treats these food particles as foreign substances and starts to attack them. Your immune system responds by producing IgG antibodies to these foods. This is how you can react to foods which previously gave you no problems at all.
What this test measures:
This test measures food-specific IgG antibodies to 220 different foods.
Who should take this test?
Anyone with any of the following symptoms should take this test*:
- Reactions to foods which are difficult to pin-point
- Skin – itching, rashes
- Gastrointestinal – severe bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, IBS
- Recurrent infections – frequent ear infection
- Emotional – anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, insomnia, irritability
- Musculoskeletal – joint and muscle pain, arthritis
- Respiratory – rhinitis
- Others – water retention, headaches, fatigue, migraines, weight gain, palpitations
*Please note: It is important to discuss with your nutritionist at the consultation whether this is the best test for you. We have other digestive tests and it is important to choose the correct test based on your symptoms and history. We can then help you to get on the correct course back to health as soon as possible.
- We will organise for the lab to sent you the test kit, it only requires a simple finger prick.
- Full instructions come with the kit.
- The test results will be returned to your nutritionist.
- The test results will be interpreted by your nutritionist at the consultation and then a personalised diet and supplement programme will be tailored to your needs.