The Gut Stuff Reader:
I have coeliac and have still had issues with gut sensitivity, I now eat oats and take probiotics which seems to help but I’d love to confirm if the foods I suspect do in fact cause issues for me. Is it possible to get food tests on the NHS?
Hello! Thank you so much for your question. It can take your gut quite a while to heal if you have only recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease.
Are your oats labeled gluten-free? Oats themselves don’t contain gluten but are often processed in the same factory as gluten-containing grains, which, if they are, makes them unsuitable for those with coeliac disease. Checking your oats would be my first recommendation.
Generic food intolerance testing covering a range of common foods is not something offered on the NHS and for very good reason! The gold standard for assessing whether you are able to tolerate food is to follow a strict elimination diet for 4-6 weeks. This is difficult to do if you have a long list of foods but with the right support, it can prove a really effective way of knowing the foods that don’t agree with you without spending lots of money on tests that aren’t really telling you too much.
So how do you go about starting an elimination diet? You start by removing the foods you suspect don’t agree with you then, every three days, add in one food at a time. You can pause at any time without adding in new foods if you are feeling good, then continue to add in the foods you removed and when you feel ready. When introducing the suspected problematic food, try to introduce it in an unprocessed form/whole form, e.g. if you suspect eggs may be a problem, introduce poached egg, rather than a muffin containing egg and other ingredients. By doing this, you can assess which foods agree with you and which don’t. You’ll also get a good understanding of how your gut is working. I’d suggest you keep a written journal over this time and note down your symptoms, bowel movements and how you are feeling day-to-day.
You may find that FODMAP foods (see here) might increase digestive symptoms for you. This isn’t to say you are intolerant or allergic to these foods but would suggest further investigations are needed.
As always, seek help from your GP if your symptoms persist.
No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and 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.
Do you want to ask a nutritionist a question about your gut issues? You can do that HERE!