If you need a food intolerance test you are in the right place. Here I give you a very brief overview of how food intolerance is diagnosed and the treatment options. Both are important subjects, which I cover in much more detail on other areas of the site.
A word of advice re food allergy diagnosis
First, a quick word of advice. If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance your first step is always to get a proper diagnosis. Here at Overcome Food Intolerances we recommend using the medical profession to get your diagnosis and to help you to manage your condition.
However, we also understand that this is not always practical or possible.
In some countries, there are not many nutritionists or allergists available to consult, which means that the waiting list is just too long. For others accessing this kind of treatment is just too expensive.
As a result, we cover all of the options including home testing and getting help via complementary medicine. However when it comes to diagnosis if you can get the relevant medical support it is wise to do so rather than go it alone.
People are tested for food sensitivities in three main ways. The three ways are skin tests, blood tests and elimination diets.
Skin tests for food allergies
There are three main types of skin tests. They all work by applying a solution of the suspected allergen to the skin and looking for an adverse reaction. This is the most common food intolerance test. Results are instant and for the most part very accurate.
Blood tests look for signs of high levels of certain antibodies in the blood. Again, you can find out more about blood testing for food sensitivity on the general testing page or if you want to understand the science behind these tests go to the detail blood-testing page.
This food intolerance test is not used very much. Someone with a full-blown food allergy will have an adverse reaction that can easily be seen in a blood test. With someone who is sensitive to a certain food the reaction is less severe, so it can be difficult to pick up in the blood.
Elimination Diets to diagnose food intolerance
The third diagnostic tool is the oldest, which is the use of special food allergy food regimes that are collectively known as elimination diets. These diets are exactly what they sound like. To determine whether you are allergic to a specific food you eliminate it from your diet. If your symptoms clear up the chances are you have found the culprit.
Sometimes you are lucky and the first food you eliminate is the one that is causing your food sensitivity issues. Unfortunately, this does not happen often so you can find yourself on an elimination diet for several months. This is the most trying and time consuming food intolerance test, but it is something you can do yourself without medical supervision. For those who cannot get an appointment with an allergist going on an elimination diet is the best way to diagnose food sensitivities.
You can find out more about food allergy detection diets elsewhere on the website.
Take a three pronged diagnostic approach to food sensitivity
Most allergists will utilise all three of these diagnostic tools. Taking this approach gives you the fastest and most accurate diagnosis possible.
Alternative diagnostic tools for food sensitivity
There are a few alternative diagnostic methods. Many of them have not been tried and tested by the medical community, so are not widely available.
Naturally, not all of these alternative methods work. However, personal experience has shown me that some do. My food intolerances were diagnosed and treated in what are considered as unconventional ways, but it worked for me.
As a result, on Overcome Food Intolerances we do cover alternative diagnostic methods and treatments. Our aim is to give you the information to decide whether any of them are worth your while trying or whether you are happy to follow the conventional diagnosis route, which is tried and tested and works for most people. You can find out about these alternative food intolerance diagnosis and treatment methods in the main testing and treatment articles.
Food allergy treatments
Once you have a diagnosis of food intolerance, the main treatment is to drop those foods from your diet. Some people suffer from accumulative sensitivity to certain foods. This means that sometimes you can eat the foods you are sensitive to, but only in small amounts and only occasionally.
Allergen free foods
Eliminating a core food like wheat from your diet is not easy, but it can be done with the help of a range of allergen free foods. You can buy a great range of allergen free foods at this link.
Antihistamines can be used to reduce the symptoms of food intolerance. However, long-term use of antihistamines is not ideal. As with all drugs, long-term use puts a strain on the body and causes side effects.
Adrenaline is rarely used on people with food intolerances. It is really only used when someone with a true food allergy has an anaphylaxis reaction. This reaction is a severe allergic reaction, which people with low-level sensitivity to foods rarely experience.
Keeping a food and allergy symptoms diary
Some people find that they develop other food intolerances over time. As a result, some people keep a food and symptoms diary to help them to track what they eat and how they feel. This approach allows them to work out whether any new foods are making them feel ill, and do so quickly.
Others use it to check whether they are still sensitive to certain foods. Food intolerances can come and go.
Some people can tolerate small amounts of the foods that they are intolerant to after they have eliminated them from their diet for a few months. Keeping a food diary is the best way of checking whether this applies to you and to work out how much of a certain food you can eat without feeling ill.
Note this can also be used as an effective food intolerance test.
Nutritional therapy to reduce food sensitivity
Nutritional therapy can help to reduce the sensitivity you have. It primarily works by ensuring that you are eating a good diet, which strengthens your body and its immune system. This approach can help you to better manage the negative impact a food tolerance has on your life.
Complementary medicine for food intolerance issues
I benefited greatly from complementary medicine. The practitioner I went to was a qualified neurologist and biochemist.
She used a vega machine to measure the body’s response to a huge range of foods and substances. By checking my levels of vitamins and minerals she narrowed down the products, I was intolerant of or allergic to.
Addressing deficiencies in my body and initially cutting out allergens gradually improved my health. Later when I was healthier, with the help and supervision of a doctor, using tinctures that contained very low levels of the allergens I was able to gradually build up my tolerance to certain foods that I had previously been unable to eat.
For this reason, I am very interested in the use of complementary medicine for food intolerances, which is why I cover these treatment options as well as those offered by the mainstream medical profession.
However, not everyone agrees that these alternative treatments work. There have been very few formal studies of these techniques. They helped me, but I want to offer advice that is backed up by more than just my experience. That is why I mainly cover conventional diagnosis and treatment options.
Interestingly as the problem of food allergies has become more widespread, the conventional medical community has begun to test some of the methods used by the complementary medical community. Some of these alternative therapies are proving promising. Many are now entering the mainstream treatment for food hypersensitivity or intolerances.
Oral immunotherapy to treat food intolerance
Oral immunotherapy is one such example. It works by exposing those with allergies to tiny amounts of their allergens and gradually building the dose up. The process re-educates the body to realise that the allergen is actually not harmful. Not unlike the treatment I underwent, which helped me greatly.
Please note this is not something you can do at home by feeding yourself tiny amounts of the food that causes an adverse reaction in your body. The amount of the allergen used is infinitesimal to start with. This kind of oral solution can only reliably be made in the lab.
No one with a food allergy should expose himself or herself to any allergen, no matter how small, without the supervision of a doctor.
As you can see, the world of food intolerance diagnosis and treatment is an evolving one, so I will regularly update this page and others on the site as new advances are made. If you need a food intolerance test, speak to an allergist about which one is best for you.