If you think you suffer from a food intolerance, I would highly recommend you have a food sensitivity test done. I recently had an ELISA IgG test at Adrialab l.l.c. during my holiday in Ljubljana, Slovenia and I can honestly say, it’s the best thing I’ve bought all year.
Adrialab l.l.c. opened in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1993 and joined SYNLAB laboratories (based in Augsburg, Germany) in 2007. SYNLAB now represents the largest group of labs in Europe after merging with two other leading European labs, Futurelab GmbH, Vienna and Fleminglabs Srl in Brescia in 2010 to form SYNLAB Group.
Adrialab l.l.c. has a long tradition of quality well-established private diagnostic laboratory, which has been operating since 1993. There are approximately 300 laboratories in 23 countries in the EU.
What is an ELISA test?
An ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test measures the levels of antibodies in your blood. A test like this can be very helpful when trying to establish food sensitivities, particularly those that provoke an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibody response such as bloating, cramps or headaches. Your body produces these antibodies after you’re exposed to harmful substances known as antigens.
IgG reactions can appear hours or even days after eating a suspected allergen.
This isn’t my first experience of investigating my food intolerances. Over the years, I’ve identified intolerances to wheat and yeast. However, although I’ve noticed a huge improvement since cutting out the aforementioned items, I’ve still suffered with symptoms despite eliminating these from my diet.
I’ve previously been under the care of the NHS with my investigations which, after many frustrating years, did not resolve the problem.
I’ve seen several NHS dieticians who repeatedly doubted my food intolerances (believe me, I have far more important things to do than waste NHS resources).
One gave me two leaflets informing me which foods contained wheat and yeast. Most items weren’t ok for me to eat because if they were wheat-free they still contained yeast and vice versa. Possibly the most shocking advice I was given was how “Great Marmite would be to eat” despite the fact it’s full of yeast!
A few years later, after receiving little help from the NHS in getting to the root of all of my food intolerances, my symptoms got worse and I suffered from a reoccurring skin rash which seemed to appear after eating.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and visit Adrialab while visiting Ljubljana.
Wholejourney.com states: “Everyone should get IgG tested for food sensitivities so they know what foods work for their body and what foods don’t. It’s no different than putting the right type of gas in your vehicle.”
How an ELISA test works
Before having an ELISA test, you don’t need to adhere to many rules other than avoiding food for 8 to 12 hours prior to the test and being cautious with exercise. Specialists also advise against avoiding foods you think you might be intolerant to because this might cause double negative results.
First, a blood sample will be taken (ideally, the best time of day to take blood is between 7 – 9am) and sent to a lab. A technician will then add a sample to various petri dishes containing specific antigens you’re being tested for.
The food intolerance test at Adrialab involves being tested for 176 foods. The blood sample is sent to Germany and results take up to three weeks to arrive by email (in English).
The results are in…
Nothing could be more soul-destroying that realising you’re intolerant to your favourite foods, could it? I never thought I’d be intolerant to my beloved macarons (including Ladurée’s delicious rose beauties). Oh wait…
I’m amazed at my results.
I must admit, it’s comforting to finally find out what’s been causing me so many problems over the years. In addition to wheat and yeast, I have a high intolerance to all milk products, eggs, gluten, hazelnut, mushrooms, pistachios and safflower. As well as food, the test also looks at intolerances to other items such as locust bean gum and Aspergillus niger (I’m intolerant to the latter).
The most surprising intolerances are lemon and orange. Those are the two I’m really upset about. Aspergillus niger is a bit of a nightmare too. It’s included in 99% of the production of citric acid so avoiding that is challenging.
However, I am sticking to my new regime and it’s really helping me. My symptoms have gone and my skin is less prone to dairy breakouts. Hurrah.
The saddest part of this journey is the lack of support available and awareness for food intolerances.
The NHS states on their website: “There are no tests for food intolerances. The only way to know if you have one is to monitor your symptoms and the food you eat. See what happens when you cut out the suspected food for a while, and then reintroduce it back into your diet.”
I’ve kept countless food diaries over the years but I found them unhelpful. If you have more than one food intolerance, this is extremely time-consuming. Reintroducing food you’re intolerant to seems like an unnecessary evil.
The following quote from Allergy UK (no less) made my heart sink:
“… The controversial view that certain medically unexplained symptoms might be related to a delayed form of food allergy rather than be due to an unexplained or psychosomatic mechanism may yet prove to have some scientific worth.”
This “psychosomatic mechanism” is exactly the kind of reaction I got from NHS dieticians and specialists, which was reflected in the below par treatment I received.
Unfortunately, they don’t stop there.
“Studies that have used food exclusion followed by blinded and placebo-controlled food challenge, have suggested that this kind of mechanism may apply in some cases of migraine, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.”
Allergy UK argues that there’s no test for a food allergy with delayed symptoms and criticise what they call “unconventional practitioners” who use IgG blood tests such as ELISA.
I’m extremely disappointed that in today’s society, people with food intolerances are seen to be merely “making up” their symptoms. Believe me, if I had a choice, I’d eat rose macarons every day but it’s not worth eating something if it’s going to make me ill.
In my experience, doctors are very keen to prescribe medication for any digestive issues because it makes it easier for them to treat the symptoms, not the problems.
Have you had any experience of food intolerances? I’d love to know.
The Food Intolerance test costs 150€. For more information, go to adrialab.si