Experiencing Digestive Problems? You May Need a Food Intolerance Test

It is surprising just how many individuals of all ages experience digestive problems on a regular basis. Most people will tend to be familiar with the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn, together with the various OTC medications with which to manage them. However certain other, equally uncomfortable gastro-intestinal manifestations, such as cramping and bloating, though increasingly common, often arouse less concern and are therefore inclined to be dismissed as annoying, but not too serious. Such symptoms, in fact, are typical of food intolerance. A simple test will be able to identify the offending foodstuff which can then be avoided or, at least, consumed in more modest quantities in future.

Although these reactions may display some similarities to an allergy, the processes involved are quite different, and it should be relatively simple for anyone affected by either condition to spot the difference. An allergy is an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to some allergen, typically a protein, mistakenly identified as foreign and potentially harmful. The resulting reaction is almost instantaneous and will often present as hives or breathing difficulties.

As is the case with the investigation of food intolerance, there ae specific tests available to identify a wide range of substances that are known to be responsible for allergic reactions. In practice, the symptoms of the former, milder type of reaction usually tend to appear quite a while after ingesting the responsible foodstuff, and they may not even occur at all on those occasions when only a small quantity of it is eaten. Nevertheless, testing remains the most reliable means to differentiate between the two.

For those people whose test results are consistent with food intolerance, there is some good news. Since their condition is not an allergy, they will normally be able to prevent the usual symptoms simply by reducing their intake of the problem substance, so it should not be necessary to avoid some favourite foodstuff completely. The substance responsible may be a natural ingredient, such as the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, or the disaccharide lactose present in dairy products. Alternatively, it could be a synthetic compound, such as one of the artificial colourants, flavourings, or preservatives invariably added to processed foods.

The technology employed in food intolerance tests is actually quite similar to that used to diagnose allergies. Both involve the measurement of antibodies, but while it is those of the type known as IgE (immunoglobulin E) that are associated with allergic reactions, diagnosis of the milder condition relies on detecting the presence of the specific IgG antibody to the offending foodstuff.

The testing procedure is normally designed to detect antibodies for a range of foodstuffs that are known to be responsible for gastro-intestinal symptoms, and often a subject’s sample will prove positive for more than one. Some laboratories extend their screening to include the detection of IgE antibodies in parallel. Whatever the protocol adopted, the test samples need to be collected and handled with care, and the test reagents need to be of a high standard of purity to ensure accurate results.

A long-established supplier of specialised medical diagnostics, our Pretoria-based company, IEPSA, offers a comprehensive range of world-class reagents and equipment with which to perform dependable food intolerance tests.

More Articles

Contact Us:

* Name & Surname:
* Cell / Tel no.:
* E-mail:
Your Message::
* Security Code: