Food Intolerance Testing

Food allergies and sensitivities are often at the root of a broad range of health concerns, from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to migraines. Our naturopaths have had excellent results identifying patients’ food allergies or food intolerances in dubai, and helping them eliminate these foods or take a break from them, as necessary. In addition to their symptoms resolving after treatment, patients have reported benefits such as increased energy and improved mood.

Definitions: food allergy vs food intolerance vs celiac disease

People sometimes use the terms ‘food allergy’ and ‘food intolerance’ interchangeably, while others believe they are suffering from celiac disease when, in fact, they might have a wheat allergy or an intolerance to a group of sugars (known as Fodmaps) found in wheat. In truth, the three conditions are very different.

While food intolerance symptoms are often similar to food allergy symptoms, the underlying cause is not the same at all. Food allergies cause an immune system response, such as the release of histamine, which can affect various areas of the body, and can be life-threatening in the case of anaphylaxis. Food intolerance responses, on the other hand, do not involve the immune system, aren’t life threatening and are normally mild, building up over time. Food intolerance symptoms are also often digestion-related (bloating, gas), although they can also include irritability, fatigue, headaches, eczema, water retention, etc.

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease affecting about 1% of the world’s population. In this case, the celiac sufferer’s immune system responds to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. The little finger-like nodules, called villi, that line the small intestine promote the absorption of nutrients, so when they are damaged, it becomes difficult for the body to absorb nutrients properly.

Food Intolerance Test

What causes food intolerances?

Common food intolerances include milk, wheat, corn and eggs (with intolerance often developed in that order). The actual cause of an intolerance is unknown, but is probably related to a mix of different factors from the terrain of your gut, to how your biochemistry and digestive system are functioning. New sensitivities develop over time and can be precipitated by illness, antibiotics, stress, or a simple trip to a foreign country and the ensuing traveler’s diarrhea.

It is common to have between one and five food sensitivities, and in more severe cases up to 20 or 30. It is not unusual for a person to react to a food on one occasion and not on another, with the reaction depending on factors such as the amount eaten, how often the food is consumed, what it is combined with and what level of stress the person is under.

Food reactions are slow; it can take up to 48 hours for bowel issues to appear, and because there are many meals in a day, there might be no obvious link between the foods eaten and the symptoms.

How do you test and treat food intolerances or allergies?

One way to test for a suspected food intolerance is by eliminating the offending foods for two weeks, in which case their subsequent reintroduction will cause quicker and more severe reactions such as hives, diarrhea, nausea, gastric pain, gas, bloating, and headaches. Also, people tend to crave the offending food and will have withdrawal symptoms when it is eliminated from the diet for up to seven days. Cravings tend to disappear within two weeks, but when the food is reintroduced, the cravings reappear.

Blood tests to check for intolerances are available and these provide a useful starting point for eliminating foods suspected of causing your symptoms. We review the results in the context of your symptoms, medical history and observations. In the UAE, the standard test used for food intolerances is the IgG (immunoglobulin G) test, which looks for antibodies against food substances in the blood. Novomed also offers the Alcat test, which detects the triggers for inflammation by looking at the reaction of your white blood cells to various food stuffs tested. The Alcat method asks you to eliminate foods for various time periods, the more intolerant you are, the longer you will avoid the food. After a sufficient break, your body may even be able to tolerate the offending food items again.

For food allergies, we offer skin prick tests, and advise you to avoid all foods containing the identified allergen. For more on allergy testing and treatment, see our dedicated Allergy & Asthma Center.

In naturopathic terms, allergies and intolerances have slightly different treatment protocols. In both instances, it is important to heal any dysbiosis, or imbalanced gut flora. Often, people will have an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria or parasites that cause inflammation of the gut lining. This allows larger food molecules to enter the blood stream causing the immune system to react. A deficiency of your good bacteria can also be a problem and is common because of prolific use of antibiotics.

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