Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Do high street food allergy tests mislead consumers?

February 22, 2010 by Ange  

Interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday about food allergy tests available on the high street. An undercover reporter, visited a number of different shops and high street clinics to be tested for food allergies. The reporter had already undertaken tests with a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ which showed she didn’t suffer from food allergy. Yet, a number of the high street shops and clinics showed a positive result to their various tests and she was given a variety of suggested foods to eliminate.

Sadly I have to agree that there are a number of tests available that are rather questionable and are quite likely to lead to false positives (i.e. telling you there is an allergy when there isn’t). One thing that isn’t raised in the article is the importance of clear terminology. For there to be a food allergy there needs to be an immune response, sometimes these are immediate, other times they are delayed, it depends on the type of immune response . A food intolerance occurs when there is a reaction to a food or type of food but one that doesn’t involve the immune system. I’ve found that a lot of people (practitioners as well as members of the public) are confused by the differences and that this can lead to incorrect diagnoses as described in the Sunday Times article.

From a nutritional therapy perspective, the signs and symptoms of food allergy, sensitivities or intolerance are due to various dysfunctions in the digestive system. If someone is experiencing symptoms such as bloating or fatigue or gas after eating certain types of food and believes that they might have a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance then the first step is to look at their digestive system, to identify where there is dysfunction and work to re balance it. That might involve elimination of certain foods for a short period of time, but that alone isn’t usually the entire solution. Yes, sometimes there may be a type of immune reaction which can’t be addressed and if that is the case, you may need to avoid a particular food long term, an example of this would be celiacs who can’t tolerate gluten.

The point is that these high street based tests at best will only say this food is causing a reaction, this food isn’t, they don’t help to identify any of the underlying factors. I say at best because there does seem to be a very valid question about how accurate they are even at that. What’s more, eliminating a food long term on the basis of these types of test is only avoiding the problem rather than addressing it.

I have a testimonial from a client who came to see me because he thought he needed a food allergy test, in actual fact it wasn’t about food allergy or sensitivities but about other dysfunctions in the digestive tract. We worked on those and within 4 weeks his symptoms had rapidly improved. You can read his full testimonial here

If you have any digestive issues that you would like to resolve through functional nutritional therapy please contact Angela Walker at Fabulous Nutrition on ange@fabulousnutrition.co.uk or 07775 582 332. Fabulous Nutrition is a London based Nutritional Therapy Clinic, addressing functional imbalance in the body with bespoke nutrition programmes. www.fabulousnutrition.co.uk


2 Responses to “Do high street food allergy tests mislead consumers?”
  1. toczek says:

    Your blog post is brilliant I think you ought to translate it to other languages.


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