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.