For the one in six Brits who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it’s easy to assume that certain foods are the enemy and cut them out. But a simple test can tell you whether those foods really are associated with your IBS symptoms and help alleviate them
If you’re one of the one in six Brits with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) it’s tempting to cut out foods such as dairy and wheat, in the belief that reactions to these are associated with your IBS symptoms – abdominal pain, bloating, wind, constipation and diarrhoea among other less than savoury tummy effects. But this kind of self-diagnosis can often result in a nutrient or vitamin deficiency. Now, a new test can let you know for sure the foods causing your symptoms. In this video, TV GP Dr Hilary Jones explains food intolerance and the dangers associated with self-diagnosis.
Food intolerance VS food allergy
Nearly half the population don’t know the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy, and 21 per cent of those who claim to be intolerant to certain foods are self diagnosing, research has found. What’s more, while only two per cent of the population are thought to suffer from a food allergy, up to 45 per cent could be suffering from a food intolerance and this could be a major culprit in problems such as IBS.
While only two per cent of the population are thought to suffer from a food allergy, up to 45 per cent could be suffering from a food intolerance.
During an allergic reaction the body’s immune system believes it is being invaded and produces IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to fight off the food and drink ingredient it mistakenly considers to be harmful. This triggers an inflammatory response, which can vary from very mild to severe and can affect one or more systems in the body. In extreme cases, the immune system triggers a response throughout the whole body, resulting in anaphylaxis, which is potentially fatal. Unlike allergy, food intolerance usually involves a delayed biological reation which, although uncomfortable and unpleasant, is not life threatening. Food intolerance is far more common in the UK population.
Food intolerance symptoms
Food intolerance can cause a whole range of different symptoms. These include digestive issues such as bloating and other IBS-related symptoms, skin issues including eczema and acne as well as migraines and headaches. Joint pain, low mood and respiratory issues can also be caused by food intolerance. Unlike an allergy, a food intolerance symptom can take up to three days to show making it difficult to determine the source.
Everyone has their own individual ‘food fingerprint’. An ingredient that is fine for one person can cause uncomfortable symptoms for others. While gluten and dairy intolerances tend to be the most talked about, you can actually be intolerant to any food or drink ingredient. This is why it is so important to go to a doctor or to take a food intolerance test from a reputable company before giving up any food.
it is so important to go to a doctor or to take a food intolerance test from a reputable company before giving up any food
The test that can pinpoint the foods that cause IBS
Symptoms of IBS can be managed with lifestyle and dietary changes. Certain foods are known to stimulate gut reactions, but a diet suitable for one person may not help another as every individual has his or her own triggers. Many people try a food diary or cutting out certain foods, but it can be hard to ascertain what is causing a reaction.
One way is to test for IgG antibodies in the blood – your body produces the antibody as a defence against certain foods that may not agree with you. A food-specific IgG test, such as the YorkTest IBS Diet Programme £319 from food intolerance testing company YorkTest is designed for IBS sufferers and can pinpoint what your body is reacting to. It involves a simple finger prick blood test carried out at home that analyses reactions to 158 foods and drinks. Once these are identified, a dietary programme of eliminating the offending foods is recommended and research shows, this is hugely effective for overcoming IBS.
Proven effective against symptoms
In the largest study of its kind, Allergy UK commissioned a retrospective postal survey of 5236 customers, who had elevated food specific IgG levels and had purchased a YorkTest food-specific IgG-guided diet programme. 3,623 – over two thirds – stated that they had followed the diet rigorously and 76 per cent of those reported improvement in their condition. Patients with gastroenterological symptoms showed the greatest improvements and the results were noticeably better again in those with several different symptoms. A staggering 84 per cent of those who had followed the dietary changes suggested by YorkTest reported improved IBS symptoms after following the food-specific IgG-guided elimination diet.
A staggering 84 per cent of those who had followed the dietary changes suggested by YorkTest reported improved IBS symptom
Dr Gill Hart, Scientific Director at YorkTest explains: ‘A food intolerance can have a range of effects on the body, many will cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, flatulence, IBS, diarrhoea and constipation. These symptoms are often treated with drugs to alleviate symptoms when, in fact, dietary changes can be equally or more effective. Of course, it is always important to have serious medical problems ruled out first, but when these prove negative a food intolerance test should certainly be the next step.’
YorkTest also has an introductory FirstStep test which gives a simple yes/no answer to tell you whether you have a food intolerance. If the test comes back positive you can go on to take the full Food and Drink Scan to get the full list of your intolerances and work with a BANT-registered nutritionist to cut these foods out of your diet.
April is IBS Awareness Month
April 24-31st is Food Allergy Awareness Week
We’re delighted to offer Healthista readers an exclusive £75 off a Food&DrinkScan by YorkTest to help you on your health journey. The FoodScan Programme analyses your IgG reaction to 113 foods, providing you with clear results and nutritional support to help you replace your problem foods and optimise your diet. To redeem this amazing discount simply enter HEALTHISTA75 at checkout.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.