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How to Tell if a Food Intolerance is Messing with Your Game

How to Tell if a Food Intolerance is Messing with Your Game

How to tell if you have a food intolerance

Its time to wake up, you feel tired, hazy and just straight up funky. Its all part of part of waking up right? But the feeling persists throughout the day. Like driving with a windshield which you can barely see out of, navigating your way throughout the day is a grind.

You experience intermittent bouts of fatigue, moodiness, forgetfulness and digestive problems. They come and go like the weather changes with no indication as to why.

Food can be Your Ally or Your Enemy

Could it be the food you are eating?

Is it so crazy that food can affect your states of mind, body and soul?

Not so crazy when you think that food literally becomes a part of us and affects every part of our being at a cellular level.

What is a food intolerance? 

Just like it says on the tin, some foods just don’t sit well with some of us. More than 20% of the population in industrialised countries suffer from food intolerance or food allergy.

Food allergies, intolerances and chemical sensitivities are growing. Allergic related diseases, intolerances and sensitivities have greatly risen over the last two decades. 

When you are intolerant to a food, you can experience a delayed and undetected food reaction. This can range anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days. Thats one stealthy culprit! 

Although a full immune response is not launched, the Immune system is indirectly involved with food reactions. This accounts for 2-5% of intolerances.

That means that food intolerances can also occur with no involvement from the immune system. Up to 15 – 20% of food intolerances are non – immunologically based. 

Food intolerances crop up when particles of food make it through the digestive process without being fully broken down. These undigested food particles cause a reaction in the intestinal tract. this leads to symptoms such as bloating, gas, headaches and mood swings.

You’ve all heard of Gluten and Lactose Intolerance. These are two shining examples of two food particles that cause a stir because they cannot be properly broken down. With Lactose, for example, many people lack sufficient amounts of the enzyme Lactase to break it down. Cue your bloating and the rest.

Up to 15 – 75% of Europeans are lactose Intolerant

7% of UK adults avoid Gluten because of a suspected allergy or intolerance

If a food is improperly digested, your body may be unable to process the food as a whole, leaving problematic particles intact.

Here are a few causes of poor digestion:
  • Insufficiency of digestive enzymes
  • Nutrient Deficiencies 
  • Imbalance of microorganisms that break down food
  • Eating too quickly

Somewhere down the line, a part of your digestive process may be out of whack, which leads to improperly digested food. This can cause a reaction when it remains in the intestinal tract.

What is the difference between allergy and Intolerance?

How to tell if you have a food intolerance

Like the difference between Tom – eh – to and Tom – ah – to, right?


When you are allergic to a food your immune system registers a component of that food as an unwelcome guest (to say the least). Your immune system perceives a threat which triggers the release of an antibody called IgE. IgE is a protein which neutralises an invader (allergen) by attacking the particle and scrambles the rest of the immune system into action.

This is where you can experience swelling, itching and abdominal pain, all thanks to inflammation. You can experience these symptoms from as little as a few minutes to a few hours after eating. Your body makes it quite clear that this food is not well accepted and to stay the heck away.

A food intolerance is more stealthy. It can go unnoticed quite easily without showing such obvious sings. Certain foods aren’t properly broken down during the digestive process, leaving larger, undigested particles lingering. Bacteria get their mitts on these particles to break them down. This is bad because:

  • It feeds bad bacteria and therefore they grow
  • Digestion by bacterial fermentation creates endotoxins which cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea
  • Regular release of endotoxins can damage the intestinal barrier leading to leaky gut

The release of antibodies like IgE aren’t involved with a food intolerance. The immune system still may be indirectly active though as a degree of inflammation still results from food intolerance. An immune based intolerance may also involve other antibodies such as IgG and IgA.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from person to person and sometimes aren’t just limited to one (they say all good things come in packages, Lies!)

A food intolerance could be the reason behind your symptoms. That may not be the story for others. It could be that a poorly tolerated food is contributing to an existing symptom.

  • Foggy thinking

  • Anxiety & Depression

  • Poor concentration

  • Wind & Bloating

  • Constipation & Diarrhoea

  • Acid Reflux

  • Abdominal pain

  • Joint Pain

  • Headaches

  • Sinus Congestion

  • Acne

  • Fatigue

  • Poor weight control

Common Problem Foods

Throughout a lifetime you take in 25 tonnes of foreign particles from the outside world.

That much!? In that case, you want to be taking in foods that serve you, not those that undermine your health.

  • Wheat, Rye, Barley
  • Dairy
  • Peanuts
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Corn, Soy
  • Nightshade Vegetables
  • Sugar

Once you identify and remove these foods, you can work on getting to the route of the cause. To identify the cause see how a food intolerance develops. 

Use an Elimination diet to remove and document foods.

How to test for food intolerance 

You can order a number of tests to attempt to pick up on a food intolerance. These typically pick up on the levels of antibodies, our defence against invaders (IgA, IgG, IgE) secreted by the immune system. Do they work?

For allergies, yes. Not so much for intolerances.

Food intolerances are not as well understood as allergies and are harder to pick up with labs. There are several mechanisms which account for a food intolerance that are immune based and non – immune based. This makes it harder to pick up with even the most specific of labs.

There have been inconsistencies noted with several different types of food intolerance tests:

IgG4, Cytotoxicity assays, Electrodermal testing and hair analysis were deemed to be unstandardised and unproven procedures. 

IgG4 testing against foods is not recommended as a diagnostic tool

Unreliability of IgE/IgG4 as a diagnostic tool in food intolerance 

That leaves the good old fashioned way. An elimination diet is the gold standard method for finding out what foods sit well with you and those that don’t. As you may have guessed, this involves removing a suspect food from you diet and reintroducing it after a short period. When done correctly, you will have your culprit.

How to conduct your own elimination diet. 


  • Symptoms of Food Intolerance can occur over several days.
  • Digestive inefficiency is worsened by poorly tolerated foods.
  • They are hard to determine with diagnostic tests.
  • You can conduct an elimination diet to identify and remove problem foods.

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