Food intolerances can be really tricky to diagnose. The symptoms can be vague or easily attributed to something else, and furthermore, the amount of a trigger food that you eat is often a contributing factor. For some patients, drinking milk can cause a clear reaction with intense digestive upsets.
For other patients, regular consumption of wheat, for example, can just leave them feeling a sense of malaise, with a low energy and a sense that something just isn’t quite right with their body. And then in some cases, a patient can eat a small amount of a food and feel fine, but the next week eat a larger amount and boom – they experience a crippling migraine or find they are doubled over due to intense stomach pain.
In my clinic, I use a combination of testing strategies. Depending on the client’s symptoms and what recent testing they may have had done through other medical professionals, I will conduct blood tests through a pathology lab to screen for candida, iron, vitamin D, liver function, thyroid function, B12 and coeliac disease. This blood work helps to provide an accurate picture of the client’s overall health. I also sometimes use saliva testing for further information, and for identifying food intolerances will use the Food Detective IgG antibodies test. This is a simple finger prick to get a blood sample, which is then diluted and processed to reveal which foods you have an intolerance to. As the test is conducted in the clinic, it is quick and easy for patients.
Why conduct tests?
Most of the problems I see in my clinic stem from poor gut health. The gut lining can be easily damaged and become ‘leaky’ by poor dietary choices, too much alcohol or caffeine, repeated antibiotic use, candida infections, or too much stress. When the gut lining becomes damaged, proteins from incompletely digested foods leak through the gut wall and trigger an immune system response, which will be identified by testing such as the Food Detective test. While we don’t fully know what causes leaky gut, we do know that lifestyle factors such as diet and stress can have a significant impact.
Testing is important as for many patients there is more than one issue at play. Food intolerance symptoms can range from the vague (generally feeling unwell) to extreme (severe gastrointestinal upsets, for example). Symptoms for food intolerance can be similar for symptoms for a parasite or bacterial imbalance in the gut, or the presence of candida or yeast infection.
By conducting a range of tests to pinpoint the cause (or causes) of your health issues, we are then able to recommend dietary changes specific for you and any herbal supplements as required. We understand that you just want to know what is making you feel so unwell and what you can do to get better. Testing is the first step in this journey and we can then support you as you make dietary changes that will help to heal your body and put you on the road to long-term health.
Do you suspect that food might be making you sick? Stop suspecting and find out for sure.
Sharon Hespe, is a degree qualified naturopath that specialises in food intolerances. She runs a successful clinic in Hurstville Grove in Sydney’s southern suburbs. Her philosophy is to treat each person as an individual, as we all have different health challenges, some are food related, gut related, stress related, or the reason for their health problem has not yet been discovered.