Food intolerance tests make questionable claims

Food intolerance tests unreliable and unproven, experts say –

According to one lab that tests for “toxic food syndrome,” eating green peppers may cause bloating or lethargy. Lemons might trigger headaches. Other common foods like corn, soy, egg whites, whey and chicken “may act like a poison in your body,” the website warns.

This company and others promise to detect such hidden problems with blood tests that can range in cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on how many foods are tested for.

Other health practitioners may say they can diagnose food sensitivities by assessing muscle strength, by analyzing hair, gastric juice or body tissue, or by reading the body’s “energy pathways.” Consumers are told that dietary triggers can cause gastrointestinal complaints such as heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome as well as fatigue, attention deficit problems, autoimmune diseases and arthritis.

But allergists and gastroenterologists say that although food intolerance does occur — most of it involving specific food sugars like lactose or fructose — the tests being marketed to consumers have no scientific basis.

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Advocates of this testing are often alternative health practitioners who claim that certain foods should be avoided (gluten, processed foods, meat, eggs, dairy, etc.). This may be helpful to a few people but research has not shown it is REALLY a widespread problem. It’s more a desperate effort for those who have chronic symptoms but no diagnosis. So far, it seems like genuine cases of food intolerance are overblown or can be easily recognized and managed (such as lactose intolerance). The article also notes that these tests are expensive, often not covered by insurance, and don’t always lead to improvements. Meanwhile, you struggle to eliminate most of the contents of a normal diet. Pretty harsh. Worse than that, some of these claims are completely unsupported by any evidence at all.

Check out this companion piece: A quick scan of websites selling food intolerance tests revealed some inaccurate statements. In some cases, these test are a certain waste of money.

More: Common intolerance myths – Many tests make dubious claims