The last column I wrote was about food allergies versus food intolerance. I explained how we test for allergies, but how can we test for intolerance? There isn’t really a definitive test, but more of a process to investigate what may be going on.
Firstly, we begin with a thorough gathering of the historical background and ask focused questions relevant to that history. The signs and symptoms of a food-related issue are pretty clear. Typically there are digestive issues – increased mucus production, heartburn, gas, bloating or abdominal pain, altered bowel motions or altered stools. Often there are skin issues, too – eczema, psoriasis and rashes.
Old school naturopathy used the occasionally reliable ‘leave it out for a month’ rule when it came to investigating possible food irritants. The subject would avoid a suspect food for a whole month then reintroduce it, noting any changes along the way. While this could prove useful in some cases (especially simple cases) it was fraught with complications. And, of course, it is also slow!
Moreover, there are so many potential irritants, and I have met some people who have very little left to eat that they don’t react to. Their diet can be incredibly restrictive, which often results in malnutrition over time. It would seem that at the base of many food intolerances there are some significant digestive issues and addressing these can improve how lots of things are digested.
Ultimately, the biggest culprits appear to be gluten and dairy. Ascertaining if these are an issue can be accomplished using the above ‘leave it out for a month’ rule. But this can show a false negative if the gut is very compromised, so a more holistic approach and longer time of ‘food avoidance’ may be necessary.
To help gain some clarity into what needs avoiding, we can use a ‘kinesiology’ test to check how compatible things are with your body, which involves testing muscles for strength and weakness. It is important to be clear that this also isn’t a definitive test, but a guide to where we may need to investigate deeper. Moreover, this isn’t a test backed with empirical science and to many it looks dodgy at best. However, if performed correctly, it helps to see what foods we would suggest avoiding for a period. For example, if the test indicates dairy should be withdrawn from the diet for a period then there is often a significant improvement – more than we would expect from the placebo effect. As they say, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ or, more accurately, not eating
in this case.
Eugene Sims, Warkworth Natural Therapies