Food Intolerance Testing Intolerance
Serious food allergies are (thankfully) rare but do exist. The most serious of them is termed anaphylaxis, is very definable, necessitates constant access to Epipens and has the potential to prove fatal. There also exists genuine gluten intolerance which is termed coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye which I have posted about before.
There are definitely people whose digestive systems are specifically triggered by distinct food groups, dairy being a frequent offender.
And then, in a far, faraway land there are people who report vague food ‘allergies’ and intolerances, to which they often ascribe resistance to weight loss, among other things. This particular phenomenon is termed being a pain in the arse. Jokes. Well, kinda…
Whenever I come across anything related to specious food intolerances, I can’t help but recall the hilarious article by the Waterford Whispers about poor local Patrick Kinsella who had whiled away his life plaguing all around him with his gluten intolerance woes and was eventually found not to be coeliac by his GP, then branded a “complete f*%king whinger” by friends and family, who had astutely observed that he had failed to “count in the two bottles of wine and a box of fags he has every night into the equation… The only thing that c*&% is intolerant of is exercise”. (A man of my own heart at times sadly!)
For quite some time, if you were in the market for a diagnosis of some class of a food intolerance, all you had to do was undertake some form of testing. Any ol’ high street test would suffice. Which leads me to today’s topic: ‘over the counter’ food intolerance testing.
I was interested to read that The Health Products Regulatory Authority (of Ireland) has just deemed none of these ‘over the counter’ food intolerance tests – widely available in clinics and pharmacies nationwide- to be clinically valid. The Fitzwilliam Food Test, or the ‘IgG food intolerance test’ was among the battery of tests appraised. This particular test examines the patient’s blood for the presence of a particular antibody (a protein produced by the immune system as part of its primary defence). The consensus is that this type of test detects exposure to certain foods, rather than intolerances to them, for example if you have eaten a lot of bread in the run up to your test, you’ll likely test in the red or danger(!) zone for gluten. The Irish Food Allergy Network, Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology and The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology are in agreement that these tests are not clinically valid.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has consequently advised pharmacists against offering these tests, its registrar, Niall Byrne declaring that “the only clinically valid method for the diagnosis and treatment of food intolerance is an elimination diet, which should be carried out under the supervision of a registered dietitian or medical professional”.
If you feel certain food groups trigger you, start with a food diary before approaching a dietitian or other health care professional.
Our grandparents did not suffer from issues with food intolerances in the same way our generation seems to for a myriad of reasons. Their lives were more streamlined and less stressful in certain respects. Their food was fresh, seasonal and whole, since preservatives and other additives were not as widely available. They naturally ate intuitively, catering for their bodies’ energy requirements and cravings and never restricting themselves nor succumbing to fad diets which ultimately wreak havoc on our bodies’ metabolism. And maybe their minds were consumed with more interesting and pressing issues that the effect whatever they had for lunch was having on their bloat levels!
I’d like to hear about your experiences with food intolerances and their management…
But don’t bore me with fake news ‘allergies’/intolerances, unless you’re Ryan Gosling, in which case Dr. Morris will see you now.
Have a great week!