Food Intolerance Test: All You Need To Know

What Is Food Intolerance?

When you eat any food, your body should readily help with the digestion process. However, when you find it difficult to digest a particular food, it means you have a food intolerance or food sensitivity for the food in question. You can tell if you have food intolerance when your body shows its signs and symptoms. However, you need to know that food intolerance and food allergy do not mean the same thing. While food intolerance has to do with the digestive system, food allergies involve the immune system. In the latter, even a morsel of the food can lead to a life-threatening reaction.

When it comes to food intolerance, you can learn about its causes, benefits, and treatment by taking a test. You can explore more about food intolerance in this article and get a better idea.

Related Blog: How to Figure Out Food Intolerances?

Types Of Food Intolerances

Due to the wide range of symptoms, identifying and treating food intolerances can become difficult. However, they most often involve the digestive system, skin, and respiratory system. The diagnosis forms the base of treatment, and you will find specifically designed eliminating diets that narrow down the intolerant foods or by other testing methods.

Considering all these factors, the following makes it to the most common food intolerances list that you can experience.

Dairy – You will find lactose intolerance common in many individuals and involves digestive symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and gas. If you have lactose intolerance, you should avoid dairy products like milk and ice cream.

Gluten – More commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, gluten can cause food intolerance in some of you. People with an intolerance to gluten can experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and headaches.

Caffeine – Caffeine can cause hypersensitivity in some of you. So, even a negligible amount can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia if you consume it regularly.

Salicylates – Salicylate chemicals naturally occur in many foods and as preservatives in foods and medications. If you have an intolerance to salicylates, you can experience hives, stuffy nose, and diarrhea when exposed.

Amines – A compound found in many foods, such as dried fruits, citrus fruits, avocados, cured meats, smoked fish, vinegar, fermented alcoholic beverages, and fermented foods, histamine can cause itching, hives, and stomach cramps. You will find this type of food intolerance common in those unable to break down and excrete it from the body.

FODMAPs – FODMAPs form a group of short-chain carbohydrates. It is an abbreviation for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. You can find them in foods like apples, honey, milk, and bread. It can cause digestive distress, especially if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Sulfites – You will find sulfites commonly used as preservatives. However, you can find them naturally in specific foods like dried fruits, wine, baked goods, potato chips, tea, and many more. Therefore, if you have hypersensitivity to sulfites, you could experience symptoms like a stuffy nose, wheezing, and low blood pressure.

Fructose – Although a simple sugar, you may find it hard to absorb fructose. Found in honey, soda, and apples, among others, it can cause symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea if you cannot absorb it properly.

Other than these, you could also have intolerance towards eggs, yeast, MSG, food colorings, artificial sweeteners, or even sugar alcohols. A food intolerance test can help you make sure you do not consume any foods that could cause discomfort. But, before that, you need to learn more about its symptoms.

Symptoms Of Food Intolerance

More often than not, once you consume a food that you have intolerance towards, you will experience the following symptoms immediately. Although the symptoms overlap with food allergy, they usually involve the digestive system and do not appear as severe or life-threatening as a food allergy. Moreover, the amount of food you eat decides the severity of food intolerance. The symptoms may emerge soon after consumption of food or might even take a few hours. It depends on every individual and their resistance to these foods.

The most common symptoms of food intolerance include the following:

  • Nausea – On consuming food, you might feel nauseous or feel like throwing up if you have food intolerance towards it. It can cause uneasiness in your stomach.
  • Stomach pain – If you have cramp-like pain in your abdomen, after eating your meal, along with other symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, or nausea, you can associate it with food intolerance.
  • Gas, cramps, or bloating – Sometimes intestinal gas causes abdominal pain or bloating. If you have eaten something that you have intolerance towards or cannot digest properly, it might have something to do with it.
  • Vomiting – When you feel the urge to vomit after eating, it could be a sign of food intolerance or indigestion. Many a time, vomiting provides relief and helps you regain strength.
  • Heartburn – When you have chronic acid reflux, your stomach acid persistently flows back up into your mouth through your esophagus. In such a case, you might experience heartburn, indigestion, or trouble swallowing, among other problems.
  • Diarrhea – If you find some foods hard to digest, you may experience diarrhea as one of the symptoms. It gets characterized by loose, watery stools or a frequent need to have a bowel movement. It often disappears without any treatment. However, acute diarrhea can last for one to two days.
  • Headaches – Stomach infection due to indigestion can lead to headaches. Although common, they can cause mild to throbbing pain at the front or back of your head.
  • Irritability or nervousness – When you have a weak gut, it can leave you feeling irritable or nervous. In case of food intolerance, you could experience any of these symptoms.

While the symptoms might give you an insight into food intolerance and digestive issues, learning the causes will let you get to the depth of the problem and seek treatment accordingly.

Causes Of Food Intolerance

It is often unclear why you might have sensitivity to some foods. However, the underlying reason for food intolerance lies in its association with your digestive system. Many factors contribute to food intolerance. A lack of digestive enzymes or sensitivity to certain chemicals can lead to this impairment.

  • If you show symptoms after consuming dairy products, you might have lactose intolerance. You might lack the chemicals, called enzymes, necessary to digest the proteins properly.
  • Sometimes, you might even find it hard to digest bread or any wheat product. If you experience bloating, wheezing, diarrhea, or stomach cramps after eating bread, you might have sensitivity to gluten products.
  • Another common food intolerance you can experience is towards chemical ingredients added to food. Whether it’s food color or MSG, you might have trouble keeping down the foods that have a high percentage of either of these elements.
  • Sometimes, foods that contain sulfites can become a source of intolerance for you. While added sulfates remain banned, they can occur naturally in some foods, thus causing sensitivity.

Although you might experience food sensitivity due to any foods, sometimes overconsumption of food can also lead to digestive symptoms similar to food intolerance.

What Is A Food Intolerance Test?

When your symptoms of particular foods persist, it’s time for you to get a proper diagnosis for your condition. You will find several blood tests offered that evaluate your food sensitivity or intolerance. Typically, a food intolerance test will look for immunoglobulin antibodies, similar to a food allergy test.

Elimination diet and challenge remain popular in testing food intolerance. However, emerging tests have paved the way for more research and understanding on the subject. Sometimes, breath tests may help the health provider identify fermentable carb intolerances, such as lactose and fructose.

Food Intolerance Test Procedure: Diagnosis And Treatment

Since food intolerances and food allergies have similar symptoms, it can get tricky to diagnose your condition. Moreover, if you have several food intolerances, it gets even more complicated. Additionally, some symptoms can mimic those of chronic digestive ailments like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, some contrasting patterns can help the doctor differentiate between the two.

Although you won’t find any reliable tests unless you visit a certified healthcare provider, to date lactose intolerance and celiac disease tests help identify food intolerances. Another diagnostic tool that works best for food intolerances – the elimination or diagnostic diet. You might even have to go through a skin prick or blood test to rule out a food allergy. The blood test measures immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody levels, and if high, it can indicate an allergy.

Treatment for food intolerances requires avoiding or reducing your intake of problem foods. It also entails treating the symptoms when you do eat any problem foods. For instance, an antacid medication will get prescribed for heartburn or stomach cramps.

What Does Food Intolerance Test Report Include?

When you opt for a food intolerance or food sensitivity test, your blood gets drawn and exposed to a panel of foods and other components. It then gets measured for immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin E antibodies present in your blood.

Your food intolerance test report will include measurement of both food-specific IgG4 and immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels to a wide range of foods. Instructions to strictly or temporarily avoid all foods to which the highest degree of IgG binding gets reported may also get included in the report. Alternatively, the doctor might suggest a sample diet plan with a list of foods you can and cannot eat on a rotating schedule.

Types Of Food Intolerance Tests

You may not find many scientifically-backed tests for food intolerance. However, the blood test which measures the immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin E levels works best. Apart from the blood test, you might find other ways to determine food sensitivity towards specific foods.

1. Elimination Diet & Challenge Test – It works the best to identify and treat food intolerances. In this test, an elimination diet gets followed by a systematic way to try the eliminated foods one by one, after a period of avoidance. Some healthcare practitioners use food intolerance tests to zero in on problem foods.

2. Cell-Based Tests – Cell-based blood tests like Mediator Release Test (MRT) and Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test (ALCAT) can identify the problem foods as well. These tests assess changes in your WBCs when exposed to food antigens. While both these tests deem effective, they require further study.

3. Antibody-Based Tests – One of the most effective tests, antibody-based tests evaluate your IgG antibody levels against foods available under various brand names. They also help identify foods involved in IBS and migraine symptoms. The test accuracy increases when the lab does side-by-side duplicate testing.

Muscle response tests, provocation and neutralization tests, and electrodermal screening also work. However, they need more time for assessment, and they aren’t widely available.

Which Food Intolerance Test Is The Best?

While every food intolerance or food sensitivity test tries to identify and eliminate the problem foods, only your doctor can provide further information on its efficacy. The advancement of medical science and technology has given a platform to many labs and healthcare centers to create more effective and accurate tests.

If you think you might have food intolerances, you can seek your healthcare provider or doctor and see which test may suit you the best.

Benefits Of Food Intolerance Test

If you fall sick due to the food you eat, you might experience some discomfort. While we attribute most of our problems like headaches to fatigue and tiredness, it could surprise you to know that food intolerance can also lead to migraines. More often than not, potential food intolerance can go unnoticed and undiagnosed when there’s a lack of awareness. A food intolerance test brings with it plenty of benefits that will help you eat well and stay healthy.

Here’s a look at the benefits of the food intolerance test:

1. Helps identifies mystery symptoms
Food intolerance does not always show symptoms in the form of a rash. You can have aching joints, flu, nausea, or even a migraine. If you take a food intolerance test, it can help you identify any seemingly mysterious symptoms so you can get rid of them.

2. Helps gain control of your health
If you know what works and what doesn’t, it gives you an added advantage and helps you stay in control of your life and health, both short-term and long-term.

3. Helps gain knowledge
Knowing and understanding your body’s limitations helps you make sound decisions when it comes to your health. A food intolerance test will help you identify what you can eat and drink, thus adding to your knowledge and helping you become cleverer about your body.

4. Is accurate and fast
Food intolerance testing delivers quicker and more accurate results, making it ideal for you. Now, you know the problem foods and how to avoid them.

5. Helps every individual differently
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. A food intolerance test provides individual test results that help you chart out a plan for yourself only.

How Much Does A Food Intolerance Test Cost?

The cost of any test depends on several factors. They include the test type, instruments used, the doctor’s expertise, and many more. Moreover, wherever you reside in the world, the food intolerance test cost will vary.

Therefore, if you decide to go for a food intolerance test in your city, make sure you visit the most trusted healthcare center to avoid any issues. The consultant doctor will also provide you with the costing, time taken, and other factors involved during testing.

Who Should Do Food Intolerance Test?

You can opt for a food intolerance test if you notice the symptoms mentioned above too often. Additionally, if you take the intolerance test, it will help your doctor rule out any food allergies.

You can even take the test as a precautionary measure to avoid any bumps on the road. After all, you need to maintain your overall health and wellbeing without falling ill too often. You can even consult your family doctor or visit a reputed healthcare center or hospital to know more about the test and its benefits.

How Accurate Are Food Intolerance Tests?

The accuracy of food intolerance tests depends on the test type and where you get it done. Moreover, it depends on the doctor’s expertise and the lab technicians that put together the results. Besides, several factors can affect your test results; and your food sensitivities can shift over time.

Therefore, when you decide to take a food intolerance test, speak with your doctor in detail concerning the diagnosis and treatment. Currently, an elimination diet followed by systematic testing of eliminated foods one by one, after a period of avoidance, remains the most accurate way to identify food intolerances.

Requirement Before Taking Food Intolerance Test

You do not need to fast before taking your food intolerance or food sensitivity test. You also need not adjust your diet before your test in any way. The food intolerance test involves taking your blood and exposing it to various foods for assessment. The reaction to certain types of antibodies determines the extent of food intolerance.

How To Get Tested For Food Intolerances?

If you want to get tested for food intolerances or sensitivities, get in touch with your nearest healthcare center or hospital that offers this service. However, make sure that the doctors available at the center have experience and have dealt with these tests before. So, call in advance and seek consultation before you take the test.

How To Read Food Intolerance Test Results?

Depending on your test results, if your IgG or IgE levels have elevated, it does not always indicate food intolerance. But, you can eliminate the risk of digestive issues or food-related symptoms, such as gastrointestinal distress, headaches, dry and itchy skin, and fatigue by removing these foods from your diet.

Similarly, other tests also report intolerances to specific foods, which you need to eliminate from your daily diet. If you find the test results ambiguous, you can consult the doctor for further understanding.

As we all know, the consumption of specific foods can harm susceptible individuals. While testing for IgE and IgG can help distinguish between a food allergy and food intolerance, an IgG test offers further insight into the foods that make you sick. But, how do you read the results? Once you get the results, the foods get marked either red or yellow, depending on your tolerance levels. If a particular food gets tagged red, you need to avoid it altogether. However, if it gets marked yellow, you can reduce its intake or rotate its consumption for at least three months.

Apart from this, the food intolerance test result shows three levels against each food – elevated, borderline, and normal.

Elevated (>30 IU/ml)
When elevated, it indicates a strong antibody reaction to specific foods. They cause you the most trouble, so you need to eliminate or avoid the intake of these foods for at least three months, if not more. Substitute it with foods listed under the ‘Normal’ category and the relevant food group.

Borderline (24-30 IU/ml)
When borderline, it indicates a lower antibody reaction to specific foods. These foods get listed under the moderate to severe category, and you need to reduce or rotate these foods for at least three months to avoid an increase in their intolerance. You can opt for foods under the ‘Normal’ category and highlighted green in color.

Normal (<24 IU/ml)
When categorized ‘Normal,’ it indicates no specific intolerance to a particular food. You can consume these foods without any restriction unless you have experienced any reaction to them beforehand.

Food Allergy Vs. Food Intolerance Vs. Food Sensitivity

As you already know, food allergy can prove to be life-threatening if left undiagnosed or untreated. However, you can take care of food intolerance or food sensitivity by eliminating specific foods from your diet by taking the test. You can look at the table below to understand the differences between food allergy, food intolerance, and food sensitivity.

Sr. No.
Condition Allergy Intolerance Sensitivity
Immune System Yes No Yes
Foods Milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and crustacean shellfish. Fermentable carbs, milk (lactose), legumes and certain vegetables, fruits, grains, and sweeteners. Varies from person to person and could include everyday foods.
Onset of symptoms Rapid 30 minutes to 48 hours after eating. Few hours to few days.
Symptoms Trouble swallowing or breathing, nausea, vomiting, hives. Can result in anaphylaxis. Trouble swallowing or breathing, nausea, vomiting, hives. Can result in anaphylaxis. Headaches, joint pain, digestive issues, skin issues, an overall feeling of being unwell.
Testing Method Skin prick tests or blood tests of IgE levels to specific foods. Breath tests could identify fermentable carb intolerances (lactose, fructose). Many tests available, but their validity is uncertain. 


When your body finds it hard to digest specific foods properly, it gives rise to food intolerances. The most common types of food intolerances that you may experience are lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance. While you may not find a permanent cure for food intolerances just yet, the best way to avoid any symptoms is by skipping certain foods from your diet or eating them in smaller quantities. You can also take digestive supplements on the directive of your doctor.

Given the current times, visiting the hospital to take the food intolerance test can get risky. However, Aims Healthcare’s Lab-at-Home service in Dubai allows you to take the test in the comfort of your own home, office, or even your hotel. Our DHA-certified nurses and expert lab technicians will arrive at your doorstep within 30 minutes to take your blood sample. Moreover, we make the best healthcare professionals accessible and just one call away. So, to receive personalized medical care exclusively at your doorstep 24×7 and 365 days, get in touch at +971 458 26 555 or fill out the contact form for more information.

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