Bloating — we've all been there! Not only is it extremely unpleasant, it can sometimes be pretty painful. But for some, it can happen so often that our health and wellbeing are actually affected. Food intolerances are probably one of the most common causes of the dreaded chronic bloat.
How does a food intolerance manifest itself?
The body doesn't deal with certain foods well. After eating food that our body can't tolerate, physical symptoms occur and these symptoms are different for everyone. Typically, though, they include the usual digestive complaints, such as a bloated stomach, constipation, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain or nausea.
What types of food intolerances are there?
If your body has trouble digesting certain foods, chances are, you either have a food intolerance or food allergy.
You've probably heard of the common food intolerances. These include lactose, gluten, fructose, histamine and glutamate. Sometimes, the body cannot properly digest or absorb these substances due to a lack of enzymes — instead, it breaks them down into components that harm the body, forming an intolerance.
In a food allergy, the body has an allergic reaction to certain foods — similar to something like a pollen allergy. The immune system reacts hypersensitively to substances that are actually not harmful to us, forming so-called IGE antibodies that can be detected in the blood. Symptoms can range from itching in the mouth to anaphylactic shock.
In addition, there are said to be foods that can also cause intolerances, but are detected by other antibodies from a blood test (at Lykon, this test is called "myNutrition", but other companies also offer it). These intolerances are called IgG4-mediated intolerances. Research on this is divided and based on the assumption that complaints are associated with a high concentration of IgG4 in the body. However, several German allergy associations, including the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology, declare this type of food intolerance testing to be inappropriate.
Therefore, tests that can demonstrably analyse food intolerances are more suitable. But how do you recognise such a food intolerance test?
Because it not only promotes a healthy diet but also benefits general wellbeing.
What is a food intolerance test?
As diverse as food intolerances are, so are the test procedures. For intolerances such as lactose or fructose, for example, testing is done via a breath test at the doctor's office. Similarly, gluten intolerances should be diagnosed via professional blood work. Allergies to certain foods can also be determined via the blood — either at the doctor's office, or by testing at home.
Where can I get tested for a food intolerance?
Anyone who suspects they have an intolerance, such as celiac disease, or has other concerns about their gut health should definitely see a doctor! What many also do not know: You can also have food allergies tested by a doctor or allergist via blood work — many health insurance companies will even cover the costs if you have a suspicion. If you want to skip the trip to the doctor (or like me, you just don't like to go to the doctor), you can also order an allergy test on the Internet (for example, a test from Lykon) at your own expense. The advantages of an at-home test kit? The results come very quickly and can be accessed online (again and again).
This is what my Lykon test looks like
Yes, I also have a bloated belly from time to time — despite a predominantly healthy diet and a lot of exercise. Since I had already ruled out an intolerance — I had this tested by a doctor years ago — I decided to take the scientifically based allergy test that Lykon offers. With "myAllergies", the antibody response to 21 foods that frequently trigger a food allergy is tested via a blood test.
When the test package arrived, I got started right away. First, I registered on the Lykon portal as described in the enclosed instructions. I also entered the test ID that is included in my test package. The package also contains the lancets, disinfectant wipes, plasters, two small tubes and a return envelope.
After I got all set up, next came the rather unpleasant part. In order to perform the allergy test, I had to draw my own blood. Did I mention that I shy away from needles and doctors? But, luckily, the specification looked rather humane, as did the small tube that had to be filled.
For the blood draw, I used my non-dominant hand. I dipped this into my sink filled with warm water, as recommended, to stimulate blood flow. Then I disinfected my ring finger tip with the enclosed cloth and placed my hand on the sink. In order for the blood to get into the tube, I had to prick my fingertip with an enclosed needle. I couldn't see the needle itself, because it is hidden in a kind of lancet. Only when pressure is applied to the plastic button does a small needle shoot out and through the surface of the skin.
At least that's the theory. In practice, it looks a little different. I really had to overcome my anxiety to apply the correct triggering pressure. When I finally forced myself, I was surprised to notice that I hardly felt any pain. However, even with the greatest effort, I only get one or two drop of blood from my finger into the tube — that's far from the desired filling level.
So, I tried all over again. This time, I pricked more laterally and even more in the tip of the finger. As recommended, this time I held my middle finger vertically above the small plastic tube and stroke wildly from the crook of my arm over my forearm to the tip of my finger. And lo and behold, this time it worked a little better. I reached the marked fill level, mark the tube with my test ID and put everything in an envelope. The envelope is then delivered to the mailbox on the same day — or directly to the nearest post office if the temperature is cold or warm.
As soon as the results are available, you get an e-mail from Lykon. Usually. In my case, I get a message that the results are incorrect because there was too little blood in the tube. So, a few days later I receive another package to repeat the Lykon test. Everything is similar to the first time. In order to really get enough blood together, I fill the tube to the brim this time - and not up to the line from the recommendations.
And lo and behold: after only two days, I can already view the very clearly presented result online. The foods are divided into "red = critical," "yellow = borderline," and "green = optimal" like a traffic light. The amazing result: I actually have an elevated or yellow or borderline IGE response to two particular foods. I also suspected one of these foods, walnuts, because my mouth always felt very furry after eating them.
What can be done about food intolerance?
If it is a food allergy — as it was in my case — then Lykon recommends removing the tested food from your diet. In case of a yellow classification, i.e. a borderline antibody reaction, one should enjoy said foods only once a week at the most.
What else is available?
In addition to tests for food allergies, Lykon also offers many other blood tests, such as metabolism tests, fitness tests, packages for weight loss and personalised nutrition, the controversial intolerance tests for IGg4 antibodies, and DNA tests. DNA tests are designed to find out, via a saliva test, which diet is good for the unique DNA of the individual being tested.
What did it cost?
The myAllergies test costs 99 euros. Those who want to book a coaching session on the appropriate diet and discuss results should get a package price of 149 euros at Lykon. For a larger health check, they also offer test packages with several different tests (e.g. 360° Trio Bundle), for example with a combination of DNA, metabolism and intolerances.
The article originally appeared on GLAMOUR DE.