Why is it important to know if you have food intolerance and allergies? Because they are not necessarily easy to recognise. Food allergy is often clearer as the symptoms show up straight away, but a hidden form of 'allergy', an intolerance to foods, is also very common - between 45-90% of Westerners have it - and it causes common problems which can come with a delay of many days.
Food intolerance can cause complaints such as fatigue, migraines, irritability, skin problems, weight gain, food cravings - as well as many more serious illnesses, according to various nutritionists, whose writings are discussed below.
But luckily there is a simple, free method of testing for these at home - by counting your pulse.
This method of testing for food intolerance is based on Dr. Arthur Coca's book: "The Pulse Test", which can be downloaded on the internet for free. A download link, a summary of the book and how to do 'the Pulse Test' is here: Book Review: 'The Pulse Test' by Dr. Arthur F Coca.
It is important to understand the difference between food intolerance and food allergies. This is what Antony J. Haynes - a nutritionist at the Harley Street Nutrition Clinic in London - has to say about it:
"... I am going to clarify the distinction between a food allergy and a food intolerance. This has been a source of confusion, not least for those in the health profession. [...]
"... the true food allergy reactions are almost always immediate and therefore most often can be traced back to a particular cause. They can often affect health in a significant and rapid manner - swollen lips and tongue, asthma attack - reactions can be life-threatening, which is why great care needs to be taken to avoid the trigger foods or substances. [...]
"... allergies effect a far smaller proportion of the population than food intolerances... [...]
"[Food intolerance] can manifest up to 72 hours after exposure, making the trigger food or substance much more difficult to identify. [...]
"While people who suffer from [food intolerance] reactions rarely need immediate medical attention, the symptoms can certainly reduce their quality of life and cause long-term illness. The proportion of the population who suffer from at least one food intolerance is as much as 45 per cent (and that may be a conservative estimate), making it a significant issue in the nation's health."
-p. vi-ix, The Food Intolerance Bible
The above book, as well as 'Brain Allergies' by Dr. William Philpott, detail a long list of chemical & food intolerance symptoms, as listed below. I have highlighted the symptoms that I have experienced. Some of these symptoms are chronic and ongoing, some only appear occasionally.
In addition, Dr. Coca, in 'The Pulse Test', adds these to the list of possible symptoms:
Further, I have experienced the following reactions caused by specific foods:
I began this experiment during a 21-day juice fast. For detailed account on how I started and what I found, see the juice fasting diary notes here:
21-Day Juice Fast/ The Beginning of the Pulse Test
During the juice fast, the lowest pulse I had in the morning was 59 bpm (beats per minute). The lower the resting pulse, the better. On the other hand, I found that my highest daily resting pulse occasionally went over 85bpm, so I concluded that I must have intolerances (in accordance with Dr. Coca's 'Pulse Test' instructions).
Since the juice fast, I have kept a sporadic diary of food items eaten and the pulse. The main challenge to this test is my day job - it is difficult, in fact impossible, to check the pulse three times after each time I eat lunch and snacks. That is why the emphasis is on mornings, evenings, and weekends, in terms of pulse count.
Example note from my diary:
"Had potato salad with onion, tabbouleh (parsley) salad with lots of lemon, spinach pie with feta cheese (and wheat dough) for lunch. Afterwards my pulse was 89bpm! I was coughing, my face was flushed and now at the office 20 minutes later I'm sneezing."
I first suspected onion to be the food I was intolerant to, as well as gluten, wheat, parsley, a spice, or a hidden ingredient in the restaurant food. In the end - with the benefit of further tests - I concluded that it was something in the wheat flour - a preservative or a bleaching agent perhaps - because some wheat flour products would raise my pulse and some would not. Any packaged bread seemed to raise my pulse whereas fresh croissants, for example usually didn't, depending where I bought them from.
(Remember, however, that although some food intolerance symptoms may come straight away, majority of them come later, with a delay.)
The foods I have tested so far have been as follows:
The symptoms listed below don't always all come at the same time. E.g. some cheese may make me dizzy while another may not. All cheese seems to cause sinus problems, however.* Offending bread may sometimes cause broken skin in the mouth and other times not. Food intolerance always causes a raised pulse, expect if corrective remedies have been taken, including digestive enzymes, certain herbs, certain mineral supplements and GABA.
Long-term avoidance of an offending food can clear the intolerance, as experiened by me and also explained by Antony Haynes, the author of the Food Intolerance Bible and many others. In 2012 I found a clear intolerance to both organic and non-organic carrots. The symptoms included chest pain in the heart area, numbness in the left arm, heavy heartbeat (heart palpitations) and nervousness/ stressed-out feeling after eating these or drinking carrot juice. I strictly avoided carrots for a long time, although did accidentally eat them a few times. In 2016 I tried eating carrots again, and I seem to have no problem with them anymore. The food intolerance cleared! I was very happy about it since carrots are in so many good foods.
* Note that some foods are clearly bad for me even though I don't have get an intolerance reaction to them. These are: alcohol (causes a cough), dairy (couses sinusitis, mucus, eye problems), concentrated sugar in excess and cooked starches.
I am keeping a sporadic diary of different pulse counts, but will not publish the full diary here, just summaries of findings.
Findings During a Juice Fast
During the juice fast one of the symptoms that did not seem to get much better at all was the heavy heart beat (heart palpitations), chest pain and sometimes numbness or ache in the left arm. I wouldn't suffer from this every day but I would say generally a few times a week, at least. I first suspected these symptoms to be due to caffeine or alcohol, or due to stress. This, in any case was my doctor's advice. The doctor said that I should monitor to see if the chest pain I was experiencing was linked to caffeine, alcohol or stress and if not, then come back to see him. He said he would be especially worried if my chest pain was linked to exercise.
During the juice fast, however, once I was free of caffeine, alcohol, and all unhealthy foods, I still got these symptoms and became a little worried. When I started understanding food intolerance, however, I gained hope in finding a solution to this problem quickly.
Just by avoiding carrots my chest pain and other heart-related symptoms have pretty much vanished. I still have slight feelings sometimes but it is so little, it's almost none. I can say for certain that carrots caused my heart palpitations and the other problems described earlier in this article. I also get similar symptoms from other offending foods, but not nearly as severe.
Drinking carrot juice seemed to raise the pulse a lot less than eating a carrot salad. Liquid offenders raise the pulse less than solid offenders. And gases, like toxic chemicals, can raise the pulse even less. So if you are testing drinks or chemicals in the air, you may find that an intolerance is marked by a smaller change in pulse (than for solid foods, which is 8 bpm). These are of course more difficult to test for, for this reason, especially because the pulse goes up and down naturally to some degree during the day.
Cough - Not Necessarily an Intolerance Problem
The persistent cough I have, I found out, was caused by alcohol, dairy and possibly also by starches and some intolerances. Apparently this started when I was a teenager, as my cousin recently reminded me that I was always clearing my throat even then. It got worse over the years, and was the main trigger for me to stop smoking in 2004. The cough didn't disappear even many years after quitting smoking. I ruled out anything a doctor can diagnose - they took x-rays, blood tests, and ruled out asthma - and begun to suspect an allergy to be the culprit.
Eventually, staying away from sugar, dairy and alcohol cleared this problem. I don't get a food intolerance reaction to all sugar, dairy or dairy, although most of them do raise my pulse and cause many other negative symptoms. Even the once I am not intolerant of, however, cause mucus, and a cough. They are also all dehydrating foods (I learned this during my visit to a Chinese Doctor).
I have recently gained some good insights regarding stress reduction...
My moods definitely improved a lot during the juice fast - to quite an unbelievable degree, in fact. I felt happier, more calm and less worried. I have a tendency to feel guilty a lot but this feeling disappeared as well. It is as if I had this background anxiety that I was not aware of, which suddenly lifted and I felt clear, calm and happy.
It is important to understand how to perform the pulse test correctly. I recommend that you refer to 'The Pulse Test' book (summary and further instructions here), written by Dr. Arthur F Coca, the inventor of this method.
In addition, Antony J Haynes' 'Food Intolerance Bible' is useful and also advocates the use of the Pulse Test, although it doesn't give you instructions on how to do the test. A must read, also, is Brain Allergies by Dr. Philpott, which focuses mainly on mental illness resulting from food and chemical intolerances (such as intolerance to petrochemicals or pesticides), as well as from nutrient deficiencies and heavy metal toxicity.
Some people report online that water fasting eliminated their food intolerances. I got excited about this and did a 7-day water fast, which was very difficult, but did not clear the intolerance symptoms. Perhaps a longer water fast would have been needed, or perhaps it is not as effective as claimed, at least for some of us.
The ultimate cause of food intolerance is claimed to be a bacterial imbalance in the gut (dysbiosis). This seems reasonable, and there are many people online who claim to have reversed their intolerances (including lactose and gluten intolerances) with the following:
Ionic mineral supplement (liquid) seems to clearly reduce my food intolerance symptoms. At the time of writing this it is only my second day of taking the supplement, and the long-term effect remains to be seen. I have been taking 'ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops' by Trace Mineral Research - in higher quantity than recommended on the bottle: 3x 1/2 teasp per day. I will provide updates here: mineral deficiency.
This food intolerance test is ongoing, and any new findings will be updated here: food intolerance (natural health remedy library - organised by condition).
Quick and Simplified Pulse Test Method:
Home Allergy Test for food allergies and intolerance
The Pulse Test -Book by Arthur Coca - Book summary and free download link.
Huge effect on my moods: Benefits of Quitting Caffeine
Natural health remedies for: food intolerance, allergies, abdominal bloating, aggression, anxiety, asthma, autoimmune disorders, fatigue, gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS), heart palpitations, hormonal problems, women, hot flashes, immune system, weak, inflammation, insomnia, intestinal dysbiosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), mental health problems, mineral deficiencies, moodiness, overweight, restless leg syndrome, stress, water retention, etc.
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.