Many of my clients strongly suspect that something they are eating is not agreeing with them. They report digestive problems, headaches or migraine, eczema or other skin complaints, low energy or fuzzy head, period or joint pain as examples of symptoms they think are linked to particular foods.
It is accepted that cases of food sensitivity (often referred to as intolerance) are growing. There is now a very clear link with autoimmune illness and food sensitivity.
I work frequently with clients who have coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune condition. In coeliac disease, eating gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye) results in damage to the delicate gut lining which may result in malabsorption. There is also growing knowledge and understanding of something called non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. This may apply to you if you suspect gluten is not agreeing with you, but your coeliac test came back negative. Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity results in inflammation and sometimes autoimmune attack anywhere in the body.
An intolerance is different from a food sensitivity. Food sensitivity involves the immune system and inflammation whereas food intolerance is associated with problems producing a particular enzyme, for example lactose intolerance, when the body does not produce adequate lactase enzymes to break down lactose in milk.
It can be hard to determine if something you are eating is contributing to a health concern. One of the tools I use as a nutritional therapist is a food elimination challenge, but this is not something I would recommend taking on without professional help. Food elimination diets can be extremely useful, and are sometimes helpful in conditions such as IBS (for example the low FODMAP diet) but it’s really important to make sure you are getting a healthy and balanced diet while restriction is in place. It’s also very important to make sure you understand how to re-introduce foods and what to do if you notice a reaction to something.
Our understanding of food sensitivity is that it stems from inflammation and damage in the gut, so a gut repair programme should always run alongside a food elimination diet.
While food elimination challenges are a great clinical approach, for some it’s too difficult to follow. If this is the case we measure immune reactions to food using a finger-prick blood test. The antibodies associated with food sensitivity are different to those of an explicit allergy but there is growing acceptance of their role and significance in chronic poor health.
I offer a food sensitivity testing service and gut repair programme for clients who want to know if specific foods are affecting their health. Making changes to diet can feel challenging, but with support and a tailored approach designed around your individual circumstances it’s achievable (and once you start to feel better it’s totally worth it).
Tests range from measuring the 40 most common foods through to 200+. In some cases more sensitive and specialist tests can be helpful, especially if you are suffering from unexplained ill health. These tests shine a light more specifically at the health of the gut, how dietary sensitivities might be affecting brain function, if you are reacting to gluten and their cross-reactive cousins or if there is anything in your environment that you might be sensitive to.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss your case and gain insight into the different options available to you.