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Why food intolerance is not just a fad

Don’t believe the hype

A recent survey of ours revealed that 83 per cent believe that food intolerance is a fact of life and not a fad [1]. However, many of those surveyed also questioned its legitimacy as a genuine medical condition due to the huge spectrum of trigger foods, symptoms and reaction times.

Food intolerance symptoms can be wide-ranging and can take up to 72 hours to appear, so the fact that it may not surface relatively immediately, such as an allergy reaction, can contribute to the confusion.

The vast possibilities when it comes to triggers make it very difficult to distinguish a specific intolerance in our varied diets and other possible underlying health issues. This is why we always advise to seek advice from your GP to rule out any conditions.

We commissioned our survey to get to the bottom of the public perception of food intolerance and to shed more light on the subject for everyone interested in food intolerance.

Common symptoms of food intolerance

It is estimated that food intolerances affect approximately 45 per cent of the population [2], but the signs and symptoms of them can vary greatly.

Everyone has their own unique food intolerance fingerprint and what might cause mild discomfort for some may manifest as crippling pain and disruption for others. Common symptoms of food intolerance include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Bloating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Eczema and rashes
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Respiratory problems

You can find out more on the symptoms of food intolerance here.

What causes food intolerance?

Some of the more well-known food intolerances are triggered by reactions to gluten, seafood, milk, nuts, fruit and vegetables, but many people also commonly experience problems related to the digestion of dairy, yeast, and eggs. On average our YorkTest customer, who has positive reactions, reacts to 4-5 ingredients, so there could be some surprising triggers in your diet that you may not distinguish through self-eliminating classic trigger foods, such as gluten or dairy.

What causes allergic reactions?

Whilst 68 per cent of the people we surveyed said that they know the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, 45 per cent chose the wrong option when presented with definitions [1].

Although food allergies and intolerances can often be triggered by the same foods and ingredients, allergic reactions to trigger foods are often immediate and can be potentially fatal if not treated as soon as possible.

Another crucial difference is that whilst food intolerances can be outgrown, food allergies will stay once into adulthood.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Chest tightness
  • Swollen lips or tongue
  • Itchy, watering eyes
  • Rashes
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea

Read our blog post about the difference between allergies and intolerance for more information.

What to do if you suspect you have food intolerance?

Increased public awareness regarding food intolerance has led to more and more people investigating the impact of their diet on their health. According to our survey, 21 per cent of the people we asked would try to self-diagnose their intolerance whilst only nine per cent would consider using a food intolerance test [1].

Trying to pinpoint food intolerance yourself can be a time-consuming, futile and sometimes even a risky experience.

Removing suspected problem foods from your diet and not properly replacing them means that you might actually end up missing out on vital nutrition, which can have a negative impact on your wellbeing.

What’s more, simply brushing off things like headaches, joint pain and bloating as signs of food intolerance  could actually have dangerous consequences for your health. We recommended visiting your GP and thereafter looking into professional food intolerance testing with us at YorkTest.

Are food intolerance tests accurate?

An efficient and effective way to establish whether your body is having an adverse reaction to something in your diet is a controlled, food-specific IgG (1-4) test.

Specially developed programmes by YorkTest can identify the specific foods and ingredients to which your body is reacting to.

The test involves a simple finger-prick blood test that can be taken in the comfort of your own home. Once your results come through, you’ll not only know which problem foods to remove from your diet but which nutritional alternatives to replace them with, ensuring your body still receives everything it needs for a healthy lifestyle.

We pride ourselves on our accuracy here at YorkTest. We have a >98% reproducibility rate which means that, on average, two separate results of the same person’s sample tested together will correlate with each other >98% of the time.

Case studies

We’re always working with customers who are suffering from a broad range of symptoms to pinpoint a food sensitivity.

After five years of discomfort and some particularly patronising advice from doctors, Operations Director Simon had all but accepted uncomfortable bloating, recurring stomach aches and rushing to the bathroom straight after eating as part of everyday life.

After taking YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan after a recommendation from a friend, Simon discovered he was intolerant to both yeast and eggs, which were ingredients found in large parts in his daily diet.

Having removed these trigger foods, Simon started seeing the benefits in just a few days. The bloating vanished, the stomach aches subsided and he was able to enjoy food again with family, friends and colleagues.

Further reading

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common side effects of food intolerance. Check out our blog on the importance of IBS Awareness Month for more information on IBS.

Take a look at our blogs on the difficulties of self-diagnosis, common problem foods for intolerance sufferers and how food intolerances can develop for even more information and advice.

[1] Independent study of 2021 people by Atomik UK on behalf of YorkTest, December 2014

[2] Allergy UK Report (2007), ’Stolen Lives 3, The Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Report’

† YorkTest define Food Intolerance as a food-specific IgG reaction. Our information is intended to provide nutritional advice for dietary optimisation. YorkTest do not claim to treat or cure symptoms and recommend that you discuss any medical concerns you have with a GP before undertaking a YorkTest programme.

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