For over 15 years now, I’ve gone through life eating anything and everything that fits the lacto-ovo vegetarian profile, meaning that I follow a vegetarian diet with no meat, poultry or seafood but I do consume dairy and eggs. Some of you may think that it’s limiting but there are so many products and cuisines from different countries to try that I’m never lacking for options.
Unfortunately in the past few years, I’ve found that I’m unable to drink plain milk from a glass or have avocado. How did I find these things out? I paid attention to my body and after some time I realized that my stomach was getting upset whenever I consumed either of these items. From that point on, I avoided avocado entirely and only consumed lactose-free milk if I was having a glass of milk or including it in my cereal. I still ate yogurt, cheese and dairy in other food products because I didn’t feel any reactions taking place. I was happy that I had paid attention to my body and had figured out what it didn’t like. Unfortunately, there were still days when I felt “heavy” and also days when I was tired, even after sleeping perfectly well the night before. I basically got used to feeling like this and on the days that I felt terrific and energetic, I simply ignored the bad days and carried on.
After years of living this way, I read an article in January 2012 that changed everything. Barbara Turnbull, one of my favourite writers from the Toronto Star, published an article, Food Intolerances Can Be Found With a Blood Test – http://bit.ly/y3WKwn and it hit me that perhaps my issues with milk and avocado were more complicated that I thought. In the article, she talked about food intolerances and how simple tests could assist in finding out exactly which foods could be affecting the body in a negative way.
A few months later, I remembered reading the article and I decided to do some research on the food intolerance tests she had referenced. On my hunt, I found out that one of the companies mentioned, the YorkTest Program – www.yorktest.ca – was active on Twitter and Facebook and was using social media to spread the message about food intolerance testing. I contacted the company to find out more and it turned out that the program not only includes the test, it also includes one-on-one nutritional counseling sessions via phone to help you interpret your results and provide you with advice on the types of changes to make to your diet. It is also one of the only tests with science on its side to support the results. YorkTest has clinical evidence to ensure the accuracy of the results that it presents to patients. I was so pleased to get these details and I was even happier to hear that many supplemental health plans are able to assist with partial or full coverage of the test costs. Why hadn’t I heard of this test earlier? Surely there were others who would benefit from taking the test too…if only they knew about it…
It was at that moment that I decided to contact YorkTest Canada to see if they were interested in allowing me to take the test and document my journey in a series of blog posts. I wanted to go through the process for my benefit but also to help others understand what food intolerance testing is all about. I was thrilled to find out that they liked the idea and that they not only wanted to run my blood sample against their set of common foods, they also wanted to run it against a new test (coming soon) that covers beverages as well! A few days later, I was excited to receive a YorkTest Program package in the mail…
Included in the kit was a pamphlet explaining the differences between food allergies and food intolerances and I learned that food allergies are usually quick to develop and can often be life-threatening. Reactions can take place after having even a small amount of an offending food. Symptoms of food intolerances can develop slowly and can often take hours or days to appear. Due to this, it can be difficult to determine exactly what is causing the issue. According to information I received, food intolerances are believed to arise when certain incompletely digested food particles enter your bloodstream and are treated as foreign substances. Your immune system then produces tailor-made antibodies (IgG), which attach to the food in question. Researchers believe that the inflammatory response in the body can cause certain symptoms and that bloating, tiredness, constipation, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), eczema and other issues can be caused by food intolerances. After reading this, I just knew that this test was going to help me out.
I was excited to take the test and I was happy to find out that it would be easy to take at home. Apparently all I had to do was collect a drop of blood in the collection vial, send it back to YorkTest Canada and shortly afterwards, the scientists at YorkTest Laboratories would be able to identify food intolerances across 100 common foods and drinks including:
Foods: Dairy, seafood, fruit, herbs & spices, meats, nuts, grains, vegetables
Beer, wines, hard liquors, juices, coffee, tea and energy drinks
This all sounded great but first I had to get over the hurdle of pricking my own finger to draw blood! Thankfully, the kit included easy-to-follow instructions on how to take the test and included everything I needed to process the test correctly. A copy of the instructions can be found here on the YorkTest website – http://bit.ly/LWfAD3
After preparing the collection vial, I used the provided antiseptic wipe to remove any residue from my finger. When it came time to actually pricking my finger to collect the sample, I found that the lancet they provided made it so easy and virtually pain-free. All I felt was a tiny prick, as the push button on the lancet did the work for me. I massaged my finger to encourage a drop of blood to form to collect the sample and closed the collection vial. That was it! They had even included a finger bandage in the kit, which I didn’t really need as the pinprick was so small. Then, I labelled my sample and filled out the Patient Information Form to provide YorkTest Canada with some background on my symptoms. I sent the forms back along with my blood sample and used lancet (they look after safe disposal) and all I had to do now was just sit back and wait for the results…
Stay tuned for my next post in the series – YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 2 – The Results!
Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.