It wasn’t long ago that buying gluten-free flour or lactose-free milk meant making a special trip to a health food store. These days supermarket shelves are laden with free-from foods. But even today, do we really know what a food intolerance is and how one can affect our lives? I think if we’re honest, lots of us look on free-from diets as no more than a fashionable lifestyle choice, made famous by Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Aniston et al. Well according to Allergy UK, as many as 45 percent of us suffer from a food intolerance which, if ignored, can damage cells, muscle tissue, inflame your gut and even effect your mental health and wellbeing.
Let’s make sure we understand. Allergies and intolerances are two different things. An allergy is a life threatening reaction to an ingested substance and you only need to eat the smallest morsel to set it off. An intolerance meanwhile is the body’s hypersensitivity to a food, which can impact your life but is not dangerous.** That’s not to say you should ignore a food intolerance. An intolerance can seriously affect your life and, for those of us who work hard on our fitness, get in the way of achieving the best possible results. If you’re fighting a losing battle against your weight and struggling to shift those last few lbs, it may be time to look at whether an intolerance could be to blame.
Dr Gill is Scientific Director at York Test Laboratories (yorktest.com) and an expert in how food can affect your fitness levels. He says, “Studies have shown significant improvement in athletes who remove trigger foods from their diets and, famously, tennis star Novak Djokovic has attributed his rise to the top with the identification of a gluten intolerance.”
Sports nutritionist Liam Mahoney at The Nutri Centre (nutricentre.com) is inclined to agree. “This medical condition can seriously hinder your performance. Common symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, vomiting and bodily aches and pains which can be difficult to manage and can deter even the most committed exercise enthusiast from hitting the gym or taking to the track.”
The good news is that eliminating problem foods can have positive results. According to the Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy, those who eliminated trigger foods based on food-specific test results showed reductions in their weight, body mass index, and waist and hip circumference. They saw improvements in their fitness levels, pain levels, emotional wellbeing, and even their social lives.
Suspect you have a food intolerance? Find out with a Lorisian Food Intolerance Test (savanthealth. com). The tests are easy to use – you simply prick your finger with the kit provided for a blood sample and send to the Lorisian lab for analysis.
And remember always consult your GP before you start removing food groups from your diet.
If you’re removing foods from your diet it’s a good idea to:
- Replace them with substitutes to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition
- Cook meals from scratch – that way you know what’s going into them
- Supermarkets are clued up when it comes to free-from products but still always read packets carefully
- Try a daily advanced multistrain live probiotic to aid digestion and absorption