Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Is your Irritable Bowel triggered by Food Allergies?

Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel or IBS? Or maybe you suspect that you have IBS?
You are enduring constipation / diarrhoea / bloating / gas and / or cramping. Your doctor has possibly prescribed some meds to manage the symptoms but otherwise been of limited help?

My story

The same situation occurred to me at the age of 33. I began experiencing terrible diarrhoea, cramps and gas. If I drank a glass of milk, I was in the washroom multiple times. Everywhere I went, I would need to find out the location of the nearest toilet. Sound familiar?
When my doctor diagnosed IBS, I asked. “So, what causes this?” 
He said vaguely, “Oh, could be anything..” When I asked about allergies, he stated that there was no plausible link between allergies and IBS, and prescribed meds to control the cramping and diarrhoea.
On the suggestion of a friend, I had an allergy test. It came up positive for yeast, cow’s milk products including cheese (I was a BIG cheese fan) and wheat. I promptly cut these foods out of my diet and within 48hrs felt almost entirely healthy. What a relief!
My doctor was very sceptical of my allergy test findings. However, I knew that just after a few mouthfuls of bread or one glass of wine I would be in the washroom for most of the next morning.

Food allergens

The top food allergens include wheat, corn, soy, yeast, milk and eggs, however, we are all unique individuals, and you can be reacting to any of the foods you are ingesting.
A true allergy causes an immune response and will trigger an almost immediate reaction. Once you have eliminated the trigger, you will likely feel much better. 
If you have an intolerance to food the response will be slower. There is no immediate immune response; it is more an issue with digesting, breaking down and absorbing the food. The reaction can take several days to reach a peak. This scenario makes it quite difficult to work out what is triggering your reactions as it may be nothing you ate today, or even yesterday.

So, how do you find out whether you have food allergies?

There are some ways to test.
You can try an elimination diet, excluding suspected foods and monitoring the result. After a trial period without the foods, you reintroduce them one at a time. It can be difficult to obtain definite answers, especially where you are reacting to several foods – eliminating one brings little relief as you are still reacting to the others. 
Your family doctor or a naturopathic doctor can requisition a blood test that looks for antibodies to certain foods. You have to be eating the allergens in your everyday diet to be tested. If you have removed, say wheat and then want to find out if you are Celiac the doctor will ask that you eat it for several weeks or even months prior to testing. 
I have found blood testing to be reasonably accurate for allergies, but that it can provide false negatives for intolerances and emotional reactions to foods where there is no immune response.

Skin testing can also provide answers. Your family doctor will need to refer you to a medical allergist to have this done. In my practice, I have found this method great for identifying bigger allergies, but have also seen cases where the skin showed no reaction even though there is a strong reaction when eating that food. 
As a Natural Allergist, I prefer to use Muscle Response Testing, also known as Autonomic Response Testing or Applied Kinesiology. This method utilizes the body’s response to potential allergens and can assess allergies, intolerances and emotional reactions to foods. It is an effective way of asking the body to tell us what it likes and does not like. It has the added benefit that you do not have to be eating the allergens to be tested.
Whichever method you choose having an allergy test can provide much-needed answers and, as in my case, bring enormous relief from your IBS symptoms.

If you want to understand more about your IBS you can book a  complementary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. Call 613 230-0998, book online, or email info@ottawaholisticwellness.ca today!

About the author

Sue is co-founder and Clinic Director at Ottawa Holistic Wellness. She also works as a Natural Allergist and Energy Healer. 

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