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Food intolerances or digestive problems?

Are we becoming a nation of hypochondriacs, or are allergies and food intolerances really on the up?

There is a huge variety of different allergy and intolerance tests available, with equally varying methodology and costs.  You can get your intolerances check with muscle testing, electronic impulses and blood tests to name a few.  It seems to have become almost trendy to be intolerant to at least one or two different foods.

The problems start when one of the less scientifically sound tests identify not one or two, but 10 or 20 foods that you should avoid.  I have seen clients who have gone on such restricted regimes that they are now risking not getting all the various nutrients from their diet.

I only ever recommend blood based food intolerance testing as the methodology behind it scientifically sound, but rarely use it as a first line of enquiry anyway.  I often find that food intolerances are actually the symptom, not the underlying cause of the problems, and therefore it makes sense to hold back on expensive testing.

One client I recently saw came to me complaining of a variety of digestive problems.  She was experiencing bloating after most meals, was often constipated and generally felt run down.  She had heard about food intolerances and wanted to have the test to see if this might be the cause of her problems.

She had had a serious bout of gastric flu five years ago, and many of her symptoms seemed to date back around that time.  Due to the heavy antibiotics she was given at the time, her friendly gut bacteria were likely to have been wiped out at the time.

When the levels of good bacteria are down, it becomes harder to fully digest food.  When the larger undigested particles are then presented to the immune system it doesn’t recognise them as safe, but instead mounts a reaction.  Foods that were previously well tolerated can suddenly start creating problems.

Instead of an allergy test, we ran a digestive stool analysis, which gave exact information about the state of the bacterial balance and her digestive capacity.  We then addressed these issues through some gentle dietary changes and supplemental friendly bacteria and digestive enzymes.

Over the following weeks her bloating started to become less frequent, and the constipation was easing off.  The symptoms that she thought were related to food intolerances were disappearing and she was getting her energy back.

Had we decided to do a food intolerance test to begin with I am sure we would have ended up with a long list of foods to eliminate.  But working on her digestive system first enabled us to get to the root of the problem, and she can now enjoy a full and varied diet.

Find out more about food intolerances and contact us to make an appointment at one of our London nutrition clinics.

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