Do Food Intolerance Tests Work?

Tests for food intolerance have received a bad rap over the years – and to be honest it’s not surprising why. There is a wide range of “tests” on the market today which claim to be able to pinpoint which food types are causing symptoms such as headaches, lethargy, bloating, diarrhoea, low mood, IBS, and skin disorders. Not all food intolerance tests are effective, it’s important to read up on the options available before going ahead and buying a test which may not prove to be useful, something that lacks without any scientific foundation backing it up.


These types of tests vary greatly, both in methodology and theory. The Vega test requires you to put your finger in a machine and it will then “tell you” what you’re intolerant to. Kinesiology requires you to hold a vial of the food and weakness in your arm will supposedly indicate what the problem is. Hair testing of energy levels is also another method which some people believe to be a key indicator of whether you’re intolerant to a food or not. The problem with these tests is that the research behind them has no real basis in science, therefore how can they honestly give any real indication of which foods you are adversely reacting to?

Around 45% of the population is affected by food intolerance on a daily basis, around 1% of which will be due to coeliac disease which is an autoimmune disease set off by gluten. 2% will have allergies and 5% will be lactose intolerant. For these conditions there are diagnostic tests available which can be recommended by your Healthcare Practitioner. Even discounting the people who know what the problem is, this still leaves millions of people undiagnosed with no real answer as to what their problem is.

The most natural, but admittedly long-winded, way to confirm a food tolerance is to eliminate certain types of food from your diet. By removing a single food type from your diet completely you will be able to see if the food type that you have removed from your diet is causing the problems. There are many problems with this method, certain food types can be hard to dodge, especially if they are hidden in combinations of food types that you are unaware of. This type of method presumes that the sufferer is very knowledgeable about food types, the human body and its dietary requirements. Obviously this is a lot to ask from someone who is simply looking for the root cause of a problem which will more-often-than-not be causing distress and embarrassment.

So what is the most reliable scientific based testing method? Blood testing for specific lgG antibodies is by far and away the only reliable method for testing for food intolerance once the aforementioned issues such as lactose intolerance, coeliac disease and allergies have been ruled out. The finger-prick blood test from York Test is backed up by published scientific papers. YorkTest themselves have been involved in the biggest known food intolerance study. It's definitely recommended for someone looking to switch to an IBS diet.

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