Food Intolerance testing

Food sensitivities, or intolerances, are an important source of inflammation in the body.

Many people exhibit chronic food reactions to specific food antigens. Unlike the immediate effects of a true allergy, food sensitivity reactions may take up to several days to appear. The mechanism of a true food allergy is mediated via IgE immunoglobulins, whereas a food sensitivity reaction is mediated via IgG immunoglobulins. Both of these reactions involve a response by the immune system. Food allergies can be tested in most pathology laboratories with a RAST test, whereas in RSA only two labs, Synexa and MDS, offer testing for sensitivities.

As an example of different reactions to a food, one may react to cow’s milk in three different ways:

  • Lactose intolerance due to a deficiency of the lactase enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk.
  • Sensitivity or intolerance to cow’s milk based on an IgG reaction.
  • Allergy to cow’s milk, based on an IgE reaction.

The preferred way to test food intolerances is with an elimination diet, whereby one avoids the food for at least 2 weeks and then notes any reaction experienced on re-introduction of the food. If the elimination diet fails to reveal intolerances, or the patient is unwilling to undertake it, then the blood test can prove to be very useful. A combination of the two methods gives 100% reliability.

The mechanism of a food intolerance involves the formation of antigen/antibody complexes, or inflammatory complexes, which are then deposited in the tissues, triggering the release of inflammatory chemicals, which cause inflammation and damage in that particular tissue. ┬áMost of these inflammatory complexes are formed when foods leak through the gut lining, and react with the immune cells located in the Peyer’s patches in the gut wall. [see Leaky Gut Syndrome]

The location and type of tissue affected by the inflammation determines the symptoms one experiences. Some of the more common conditions associated with inflammation are listed below:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome [IBS] or spastic colon
  • Migraines
  • Sinusitis
  • Hayfever
  • Nasal polyps
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle pains
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Heart attacks [due to inflammation in the arteries]
  • Obesity
  • General tiredness

Many of these conditions are treated by conventional doctors with cortisone, to suppress the inflammation. By determining one’s food intolerances and avoiding those foods, one can go a long way to preventing the inflammation developing in the first place.

If the results show intolerances to many foods, this usually indicates the presence of Leaky Gut Syndrome. As the gut is repaired and heals the intolerances should diminish. Most intolerances are not permanent, and should not be regarded as such.

Although the mechanism causing the development of Auto Immune Diseases [AID] is poorly understood, it is thought that underlying food intolerances may be very relevant.

The blood tests are performed on a random blood sample, which needs to reach the laboratory within 48 hours. They are expensive, but worthwhile for those suffering with chronic illness.



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Cape Town
South Africa
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