Eliminate the Guess Work with a YorkTest Food&DrinkScan
As I mentioned in my Food Intolerance Test Guide, which looked at gut health, as well as symptoms and types of food intolerance, having an inflammatory reaction to foods can massively affect your wellbeing. As I’m always determined to better my body, I took the comprehensive Food&DrinkScan from YorkTest* to learn about my unique ‘food fingerprint’ so that I can tailor my diet for optimal health and fitness.
While a standard elimination diet could help me identify food intolerances, they take a lot of time and effort, and are very difficult to conduct, with some symptoms taking hours or days to present themselves. YorkTest have banished the guess-work by providing me with a specific list of foods to which my body is reactive, so that I have the perfect starting place for improving my diet.
Food Intolerance Testing with YorkTest
I chose to take a FoodScan with YorkTest because I was familiar with the brand and new that they were well-established.
"YorkTest Laboratories have over 30 years of excellence in laboratory diagnostic testing, and are Europe’s leading provider of food and drink specific IgG antibody testing programmes.
When deciding to test for food intolerance, York Test offer several options. You could start with the ‘First Step’ test which provides a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ indicator of whether you have a food intolerance. Should you receive ‘yes’, you can follow up with a full test programme.
However, with a money-back promise if no reactions are identified, I would recommend launching straight in with a full test programme to fast-track yourself to better health with a little less hassle.
The FoodScan Testing Process
After ordering and receiving your test pack, all that is required of you is a finger prick (to draw a tiny amount of blood to sample) and return of the pack in the pre-paid envelope. It’s a very quick and simple process.
Once it reaches YorkTest laboratories, experts carry out an enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) test for food-specific IgG antibodies.
The reactions are then clearly, visually indicated on a report, which is sent to you very quickly, and followed up with a call from a nutritionist, to answer your questions and advise you on your next steps.
My Food Intolerance Test Results
After doing my part of the testing (I detailed the Food Intolerance Test Process in my guide), my results arrived back with me within a few days. I was so excited to see them, but they weren’t quite what I was expecting.
The accompanying letter stated that I had a high number (25) of reactions and borderline reaction ingredients that were tested for.
Some foods I already suspected that I was intolerant to or had an unexplained dislike for, but others came as a complete surprise.
Essentially, the protocol from here is to eliminate the foods that I am reactive to, and eliminate or reduce my consumption of borderline foods (which may or may not elicit a reaction).
All of my reactions can be seen in the images within this post, but especially after talking to Sarah, the YorkTest nutritionist, there are some results that are worth mentioning in a little further detail...
I showed a reaction to both egg white and egg yolk. I’m not very fond of eggs and only recently learnt to like them when scrambled (I was determined, as they’re such a nutritious food!) so I thought this wouldn’t bother me too much. However, I realise I consume quite a few other foods that contain egg as a hidden ingredient, from pancakes to meatballs. If you can recommend an alternative binding agent for recipes like this, please let me know!
With cow’s milk, the first thing that is important to point out is that this is not an indication of lactose intolerance (as outlined in my Food Intolerance Test Guide post).
The IgG antibodies used in this kind of intolerance testing can only bind with proteins. Therefore, my reaction to cow’s milk is in fact indicating an intolerance to whey and/or casein. Unfortunately the test does not differentiate between the two.
As I consume a lot of protein shakes (predominantly whey) to supplement my high protein intake, this will make a huge impact on my diet (read: at times, thinking about this intolerance result makes me want to jump off a cliff).
I wish that the the scan tested for whey and casein separately because I could easily consume one or the other in isolation if need be.
Screening for whey and casein reactions separately would make this test infinitely more valuable, and I’d love to see YorkTest introduce this kind of testing to reflect the growing popularity of supplements based on these ingredients.
Gluten + Wheat
As I mentioned, this food scan tests a reaction to proteins. Wheat contains four proteins; albumin, globulin, gliadin and gluten. The fact that I am intolerant to wheat, indicates an intolerance to all of these proteins. However, gluten is found in many other food products so this is indicated separately as well.
This came as no surprise to me as I’ve experienced a range of issues when consuming gluten from bloating to extreme lethargy. I’ve avoided having bread on a regular basis for a long time, and haven’t eaten pasta for as long as I can remember (except once during my trip to Technogym Headquarters in Italy).
It’s great to have this intolerance confirmed as I’ll now make more effort to avoid gluten in other, less obvious, products, such as soy sauce.
My reaction to yeast is one that I found particularly interesting. It isn’t something that I considered I might have an intolerance to, although I know that an overgrowth of Candida (a form of yeast) in the body can have large, and obvious, symptoms (thrush, for example).
While I’d considered that consuming sugary foods which can fuel the growth of yeasts in the body (leading to cravings for even more sugary foods - something I’ve definitely experienced!), I’d never given much thought to the consumption of yeast itself.
But now, it feels like yeast is in everything.
As well as being an integral ingredient within many products, yeasts can also occur naturally, growing on the skin of some berries and soft fruits. It is even present in mushrooms and stock cubes. It’s almost impossible to avoid while having a balanced diet.
Not only that, but all alcoholic drinks depend on yeasts to produce the alcohol, although distilling and filtering will tend to remove most of the yeast. While I’m not much of a drinker, from now on I will be sticking to spirits such as gin or vodka (especially as I’m reactive to many types of grape - and therefore wine!).
One thing that I discussed with the YorkTest nutritionist is that my reaction to yeast could have been influenced by a recent course of antibiotics. She agreed that this could be the case. Just one dose of antibiotics could alter gut flora for up to a year! While this doesn’t really help my situation, it’s definitely interesting to know.
Resolving Food Intolerances
Thankfully, IgG food intolerances can be resolved. This is because the IgG antibodies in the blood only live for a couple of months. If the problematic foods are avoided for 3-4 months, by the time the food is reintroduced into the diet all the IgG antibodies programmed to attack the food should have left the bloodstream.
However, a lot of people develop intolerances because the gut wall, which separates food ingested from the blood stream, gets damaged by antibiotics, painkillers, alcohol and too much wheat gluten and this may cause incompletely digested food proteins to get into the bloodstream and trigger your immune system to attack.
Therefore, as well as avoiding problematic foods, it’s also important to take actions to repair the gut.
It’s going to be really difficult to cut out my ‘reaction’ foods. It will require a lot of planning and a lot of dedication, but I’m really keen to see what improvements I can notice in my health and wellbeing from persevering with it.
Something that I need to constantly remind myself of, is that inflammation does not always manifest itself in obvious ways. So although I may feel fine, or not notice a particularly uncomfortable reaction, that’s not to say that an issue isn’t present. Especially with an existing medical condition (read my [‘about me’ section] to learn more), I need to make sure that my levels of inflammation are kept as low as possible.
Since getting my results, I’ve got really wrapped up in considering foods in terms of whether I’m intolerant to them or not, and forgetting that just because I’m not intolerant to things, it doesn’t mean that they are okay to consume. Sugar is a great example of this. As I know that I have a problem with yeast (which feeds off sugar), limiting my sugar intake as much as possible will be especially important.
Other things that I will be doing is staying as hydrated as possible (cue me nipping to the kitchen to grab a drink mid-writing flow), and taking supplements that I know to be beneficial for gut health (stay tuned for a future post on this!).
Finally, I’d love to re-test in a few months to see if any of my reactions are different. I’m also really keen to take the Gut Health Test to learn if I have any imbalances in my gut flora that I can correct (and also for my own learning and pure fascination!).
Edit: since taking this York Test, I have re-tested with Cambridge Nutritional Sciences - a fantastic service that settled some of my answered questions. I would recommend CNS Food Print 200+ over York Test. Read more about my CNS Food Print experience.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the test, and any advice that you may have regarding how I can amend my diet in the least painful way!