For as long as I can remember, I have on-and-off suffered with stomach problems after eating which has always had me wondering if I have some kind of food intolerance. I get horrendous acid reflux after eating spicy foods, but generally after eating I can get very bad stomach pains or cramping, bloated, gassy, and even some gurgling noises which sound more like they should be the mating call of some kind of sea creature.
A food sensitivity can be either a food allergy, or a food intolerance, and there is quite a difference. A food allergy involves the immune system reacting to a protein in a given food. Food allergies are reproduced every single time a person consumes a food, and the reactions are usually instant. A food intolerance does not involve the immune system, but does cause inflammation when white blood cells react to the ingested food. Intolerances can often be confused with allergies as they can cause similar gastrointestinal results. Allergies are more prone to causing gas, stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, and headaches. Food intolerances can be very difficult to diagnose without a blood test, because the symptoms may not appear every time a certain food is consumed, and the reactions often aren’t instant, unlike reactions to food allergies. Food intolerances can also cause things like fatigue, weight issues, migraines, irritability, and skin conditions like acne and eczema.
Having been back and forward to the doctors with my stomach problems with no successful outcome, I had recently been looking into home food intolerance testing kits. They claim to be simple to use and most give you results relatively quickly. These tests have come up against criticism as they test for igG antibodies rather than igE antibodies, but after lots of reading, I decided that it was definitely worth a try to see if there could be anything that was causing my stomach issues. Even if the test showed some kind of indication of intolerance, it would surely be worth trying to cut that food out of my diet to see if it made any difference to the problems I’ve been having.
I looked at lots of different kits and ended up going with Smartblood. This company test against 134 different foods. I ordered my testing kit, which was really easy to do. It came super quickly. I read the instructions a couple of times, and if I had wanted, I could have scanned a QR code and watched a video showing me how to do the test. All I had to do was prick my finger with a lancet and get a blood sample – how hard could it be?!
Of course I started panicking that I wouldn’t be able to get enough blood out of my finger prick, didn’t I! There were two safety lancets in the pack in case there was any need to do a second finger prick, but I did manage to squeeze enough blood out from just using one. The blood was to be put onto a swab, which was a teeny bit faffy, but only because there was a little protective plastic thing that needed to be moved from one end to the other. Then it was as simple as filling in any symptoms that you currently get, putting all of the items back into the biohazard bag and into the box, then into the prepaid envelope and into the nearest postbox. It literally took five minutes to do.
I was really curious to see my results, as I really felt there was something I was intolerant to, but I just didn’t know what.
A couple of days after posting my blood sample off, I got an email from Smartblood saying that my results were ready and could be accessed online. I logged on immediately, it honestly felt like I was getting an exam result (I guess it kind of was!) and I was slightly nervous too.
My results came back with a high intolerance to eggs – the white, the yolk and therefore the whole egg. Also to cow milk, casein and casein protein isolate. I showed mild intolerance to whey, whey protein isolate, wheat and gluten. I have to say that I totally hadn’t expected the egg intolerance but it now totally makes sense as I eat SO many eggs being pescetarian and not getting protein from meat. I eat eggs in some form every day, so no wonder I have felt unwell almost every day. The next day, I also received a paper copy of my results too.
I spoke to my mum after getting the results because I vaguely remembered when I was younger being told I was lactose intolerant. She said that I’d always had stomach problems after food. Maybe all this time it has really been eggs…?
As part of the Smartblood package, you get a half hour phone call with a nutritional therapist to try and help you make sense of your results and make a plan going forward. I made my appointment and about a week later spoke to the loveliest lady, Sheila. Everything that she said made complete sense to me. She basically said that I have a dairy intolerance and suggested that for the next three months I go dairy free to try to almost “re-set” my stomach. She used a great analogy that your stomach is like a garden. You wouldn’t plant flowers on top of loads of weeds, so you need to get rid of the weeds first. So the three months is getting rid of the weeds. Then I can start trying to re-introduce dairy slowly back into my diet if I want to. She also said it might be worth getting a proper test for lactose intolerance at the doctor, as I can’t remember if the doctor did a test when I was young or just thought the symptoms sounded like it might be lactose intolerance.
I’ve now been dairy-free for ten days and I’ve already started to feel so much better. I’m feeling less bloated and gassy, and haven’t had an upset stomach at all. The hard part will be when I go to somebody else’s house or out to eat. I’ve joined a few forums and a good tip is to look for vegan options as they are guaranteed to be dairy free.
I’ve bought some books with vegan recipes and a book about being dairy free, which are all really interesting and have lots of ideas. I’ve also discovered that there are so many “free from”, dairy free and vegan options in the shops.
I’m hoping that as the weeks progress, I’ll continue to feel better health-wise.
I would one hundred percent recommend doing one of these tests if you have any doubt that you might have some sort of intolerance. There may be talk about these test’s accuracy online, but for me, cutting out dairy is definitely working and my only regret is not taking a food intolerance test sooner.
Smartblood have very kindly given me a code for my readers/followers to get £50 off a food intolerance testing kit. Just enter the code Sparkle50. For transparency, this code does not earn me any commission.
Have you done a food intolerance test? Do you suffer from any intolerances or are there any foods that you know you feel better if you avoid?
This post contains a gifted item, however, as always, opinions are one hundred percent honest and my own.