The truth about Food Intolerance Tests. They’re a waste of money

Food Intolerance Tests - Effective tool or waste of money?

ood Intolerance Tests Waste of money

This month we’re tackling some of the nonsense about gut health that we’re seeing online.

First up, Food Intolerance tests.

Those finger prick tests you regularly see advertised online and offered by alternative practitioners that will identify your “sensitivity” to hundreds of foods are nonsense.

These blood tests look at IgG antibodies to specific foods present in your blood. These tests and the practitioners using them claim that an increase in IgG to a certain food demonstrates an intolerance to that food. 

IgG antibodies are not triggers of an allergy and it’s entirely normal to have these in our blood after eating, they demonstrate exposure to a food, NOT tolerance.

Commercial IgG Food Intolerance Tests aren’t validated

These tests are not supported by scientific evidence and are NOT recommended by:

  • Health Products Regulatory Authority, Ireland 
  • British Dietetic Association, UK
  • The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)
  • The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI)

They’re expensive and can be bad for your health

They’re a waste of your money and they often lead people to unnecessarily remove numerous nutritious foods from their diet. Not only is this not necessary it also:

  • Is overly restrictive
  • Can make social situations and eating out difficult, but most importantly
  • Can lead to nutritional deficiencies, particularly when people are removing whole food groups

We are seeing more people who are following unnecessary highly restrictive diets, and yet still have significant gut symptoms. They’re often following recommendations from people who are not qualified to give such advice and who are using these unvalidated “food intolerance” tests to support their extreme approach. 

Dietitian Elaine recently saw a 38-year old mother of three who had early onset osteoporosis as a result of following a dairy-free diet (she was told that she was intolerant of dairy 10 years previously, based on one of these intolerance tests) and having a diet low in calcium for years. 

If you suspect you may have a food intolerance or allergy you should consult with your GP/Family Doctor or a Registered Dietitian.

Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

Food allergies involve an immune response. The symptoms can be mild such as itching around the mouth or tongue, or mild swelling of the tongue or lips, to tummy cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhoea and at the more severe end of the spectrum can cause breathing difficulties and a full-blown anaphylactic reaction. Food allergies are more common in people who suffer with other allergic-type conditions such as hay fever, asthma or eczema.

Food allergies are diagnosed using specific scientifically-validated blood (IgE) tests, or skin prick tests (not a finger prick blood test) performed by an allergist or immunologist, or through elimination diets supervised by a Registered Dietitian who specialises in allergies.

Food intolerance is a digestive response rather than an immune response. There is no blood test for food intolerance. Symptoms include bloating, flatulence and tummy cramps. The symptoms are unpleasant but never life-threatening. It’s worth keeping a food and symptom diary for 4 – 6 weeks – and not excluding suspect foods – and discussing this with your GP/Family Doctor or a Gut Specialist Registered Dietitian (RD). 

Work with an RD to identify if you have an intolerance and how best to manage it if you do.

Don’t buy those tests. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

Please spread the word.

 ©The Gut Experts 2021

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