Food intolerances: what they are and which tests really work

What are food intolerances? What are the tests that really work to diagnose them? The world of food intolerances is so complex that experts working in the health field are divided on this topic.

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WHAT IS THE food intolerances? What are the test that really work to diagnose them? The world of food intolerances is so complex that experts working in the health field are divided on this topic.

First you need to understand what are food intolerances and do not confuse them with food allergy. In fact, intolerances and allergies are not the same thing. But there is more. You may have heard that food intolerances don't really exist. Some doctors may consider only celiac disease and lactose intolerance to be true food intolerances.


Then there is the point of view of naturopathy, on the basis of which perhaps we should not speak of food intolerances but of inflammation caused by food. Even the world of tests to diagnose food intolerances appears very varied. To better orient yourself, we recommend that you contact your trusted experts, perhaps taking some information that we provide below as a starting point.

As we said, food allergies and food intolerances are not the same thing. Let's try to better understand the differences between food allergies and food intolerances. This will help you to contact the most suitable expert for your case and avoid unnecessary tests.


What are food allergies

In an food allergy we have one immediate reaction. Our immune system is unleashed immediately or in any case within a very short time, as soon as we bring to the mouth and ingest the food to which we are allergic. Symptoms of food allergies include swelling and / or itching of the lips or tongue, hives or angioedema, and in severe cases anaphylactic shock and fainting. It is not certain that all symptoms appear at once but in any case the response of our body to an allergic reaction is very rapid. Remember that you have an allergic reaction when the immune system produces antibodies against a harmless substance present in food (or the environment), as if it were pathogenic. THE food allergy test (the most famous is the prick test) are carried out by the allergist.

What are food intolerances

The case of the food intolerances. A food intolerance does not foresee an immediate reaction, as happens in the case of allergies. Food intolerances seem to be linked to the inability of our body to digest and assimilate some components of food or to inflammation of the body caused by food. Often the food intolerances they can cause stomach or bowel symptoms, digestive difficulties, headaches, unexplained fatigue, and other ailments that should be discussed with your doctor.

We asked the Dr. Alessando Targhetta, homeopathic doctor specializing in food intolerances, what are the foods to which you are more easily intolerant and what are the most common symptoms. Here's what he told us:

“We can become intolerant to almost all foods if we continue to consume them daily and for a long time. The most common foods we become intolerant to are: cow's milk, cow's milk products, wheat, red meat (beef, pork), eggs, apple, banana, kiwi, lettuce, tomato, coffee, yeast, etc. As for the symptoms, however, the most common occur both at the gastrointestinal level: colitis (abdominal swelling, diarrhea, constipation, aerophagia, flatulence), gastritis (digestive difficulties, belching, heartburn, acid reflux), and at an extra level intestinal: skin (acne, dermatitis, eczema, itching), respiratory system (colds, pharyngitis, ear infections, bronchitis), genitourinary system (cystitis, vaginitis), nervous system (headaches, migraines), osteoarticular-muscular system (joint pain and muscle), metabolic (obesity, cellulite), etc. ".


The test for lactose intolerance

THELactose intolerance occurs when our body does not produce enoughlactase enzyme, necessary for the digestion of this substance present in milk and dairy products. Those who cannot digest milk and dairy products may be lactose intolerant and deficient in the lactase enzyme. The recognized test for lactose intolerance is the Breath Test, as the doctor Matteo Giannattasio, doctor and agronomist who collaborates with the Allergy Service of the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Without the enzyme lactase it cannot be digested. Failure to digest lactose can cause abdominal cramps and bloating, among other things.


The test considered the safest and most reliable for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance is theH2 Breath Test, which evaluates the presence of hydrogen in the breath before and after the administration of 50 grams of lactose, taking 9 air samples obtained by blowing the patient into a bag at regular intervals (about every 20 minutes), for a time of 3 hours approximately. Here more information.

The test for celiac disease and gluten intolerance

According to the European Food Information Council, the celiac disease it is also known as gluten intolerance and it is a condition of the small intestine caused by a complex immunological reaction caused by gluten. The simplest test to diagnose celiac disease is a 'blood analysis which can be done in a hospital or diagnostic center. Here more information.

In some cases you might find that you are not celiac but still turn out a lot sensitive to gluten. Both in the case of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity the suggestion is to carefully follow the advice of your doctor. We know that in the celiac disease exposure to gluten causes an inflammatory reaction of the intestine but we do not yet know if this can be prevented.


Symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, bloating and frequent diarrhea. Symptoms of celiac disease disappear when gluten is excluded from the diet. In some cases we speak of celiac disease and gluten intolerance as two different diseases. Maybe you are particularly sensitive to gluten but don't suffer from celiac disease? Discuss the matter with your doctor.


The DRIA test for food intolerances

Lactose intolerance and celiac disease are among the very few food intolerances truly recognized by the medical world. In the field of naturopathy they exist instead different points of view. For example, according to the naturopath Luca Avoledo intolerances to different foods can occur, although one should speak more precisely of inflammatory reactions caused in our body by certain foods.

In his opinion - as we read in one of his articles - it is not fair to say that food intolerances do not exist. In some cases, in fact, digestive problems can really be associated with an inflammatory reaction caused by what we eat. What triggers food intolerances? To diagnose them Avoledo suggests undergoing the test DRIA for food intolerances. Here and here more information.

The DRIA test disagrees Doctor Targhetta, homeopathic doctor specializing in food intolerances, to whom we asked how it is possible to diagnose food intolerances. Here's what he told us about it:

"There are various methods to diagnose food intolerances, some not recognized because "unscientific" (VEGA test, DRIA test), others recognized by the medical community, because they are scientific and repeatable. These include those who they measure the IgG immunoglobulins or better still IgG4 in the blood, specific to the foods a person consumes most often. I remember that IgG immunoglobulins are now recognized antibodies of food intolerances ".

Tests for food intolerances not validated

We know that the panorama of tests for food intolerances is very varied and that not all the tests available take place in the medical field, are validated and can give certain results. Between tests for food intolerances not validated in the medical field we find: hair test, blood cell test, strength test, VEGA test, bioresonance and pulse test. Here more information.


Food intolerances, what to do?

So what to suggest to those who think they suffer from a food intolerance? Following your doctor's advice you could undergo, if necessary, the tests considered valid to detect any intolerance to gluten or lactose, which represent, among other things, the most common problems in this field. The doctor will be able to assess whether in your case it is really an intolerance. He may recommend that you also get tested for food allergies in order to check for or rule out them.

Don't forget that some symptoms such as indigestion, fatigue, or a general feeling of malaise they may not even depend on food intolerances but from very different causes. In some cases it may be enough to vary your diet to make it healthier and follow a more relaxed lifestyle, but only your doctor or a trusted expert can really help you better understand your state of health. So before you blindly submit to any food intolerance test, talk to them about it.

Marta Albè

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