I would like to know if intolerances tests at home are a good idea. I have IBS symptoms and I have tried eliminating some foods with variable results and I’d like to know what you feel could help me with my symptoms?

Miguel answers:

Thank you so much for your question, Intolerance or “allergy” tests are a bit of a waste to time. At best, they can be used by a practitioner as an “off label” way to learn that your gut lining is suffering from temporary permeability, hence why the antibodies that you measure as part of the tests may be high, as they are waiting on the other side of gut wall to meet and greet food molecules and to ensure that they haven’t got a history of causing trouble. This is what various type of IgG antibodies do. To use these as means to “diagnose allergies” or even “assess sensitivities” is pretty pointless.

For me the most effective way to ascertain whether a food having some sort of tangible effect, is to isolate it. A hard, but effective elimination diet, should take up to a month to complete. You strip all the potentially offensive foods, whatever these are for you. Stay with a small safe list and build up 1 food at the time, every 3 days. Ideally these should be “single ingredient” foods, aka “real foods” as opposed to a food that contains 10 ingredients as you won’t know which out of the 10 was making you react.

Doing this should give you enough understanding of how your gut is reacting to the introduction of new foods. If you feel that you have regained some control after a few days, don’t be scared to pause. Enjoy that feeling for a week or two until you feel adventurous enough to start introducing 1 new food every 3 days again. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve used this approach for years with success. The onus is on you and it can be challenging, But if you are determined to figure out what’s going on in your gut, it is a much more reliable way to find out than spending 100s of pounds in allergy tests. Go shopping for shoes instead! Hope this helps.

No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor. It should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.