Naturopathic Testing for Food Allergy or Food Intolerance

food intolerance

I recently went to the doctor for food allergy testing, but it turns out that many people who think they may have a food allergy may actually just have a food intolerance. What is the difference between these two and what can be done about it? Naturopathy, says my food allergist, is the key to this answer.

Food allergies (like Celiac disease–an allergy to gluten that can be fatal) are usually severe, and can cause sudden responses in the status of your health, can be life-threatening, and can happen every time you eat a certain food; even a small amount of the food can trigger an allergic reaction.

Food intolerance is slightly different since it usually comes on gradually when having eaten a lot of the culprit food, and mostly if you eat it off, plus is not usually life-threatening. However, intolerances to foods can also make you feel ill, fatigue, cause migraines, and other symptoms.

Symptoms of food intolerance and food allergies

Even though only 3% of adults, and perhaps 6-8% of children have true allergic reactions to food, there are some shared symptoms, which can include nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Naturopathic physicians can test you–usually for under $200 or so–to determine whether you have a true food allergy or a food intolerance. Sometimes some foods cause a stronger response than others, but the naturopathic tests can show you a panel of about 64 foods that you might have an intolerance or allergic reaction to, and it will also tell you to what degree you have a negative response, so that the naturopath can advise on which foods to avoid.

Different symptoms for food intolerance/allergies include:

Food allergy

rash, itchy skin, or hives chest pain
shortness of breath
sudden drop in blood pressure
trouble breathing
trouble swallowing
(if these occur call 911 emergency immediately!)

Food intolerance
gas, bloating, or cramps

Common food intolerance and allergy foods

The most common food intolerance is a lactose intolerance (found in dairy products and is a milk intolerance–some people can have goats or sheep’s milk instead without issues), but other reactions can include toxic reactions and food poisoning, which are also an abnormal response to food. Food intolerance is more prevalent in society than food allergies. One can also develop an allergy where the food did not seem to bother you before, but now it does due to an physiological response that builds up in your system until it hits a breaking point and symptoms arise.

If you have a basic test and do not find out what you are allergic to, then consider seeing a naturopath. However, about 90% of all food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.), fish or shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, or wheat. The allergist also told me directly that if you have to go to the next step and take a comprehensive food allergy / food intolerance test at the naturopathic doctor (ND) then you will find that about 80% of the most common food allergies (or intolerances) are actually to one of these three foods: wheat, dairy, or eggs.

Sometimes you may have more than one food allergy or food intolerance substance. If you have an intolerance then avoiding eating these common foods can usually alleviate your symptoms. Just ask your naturopath!


The author of this story is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at and Vancouver Health News at  National Nutraceuticals, Inc. also owns and operates a third health news portal focusing on medicinal mushrooms at, plus our newest portal at

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