Food intolerance testing and healthy eating

PUBLISHED: 12:20 19 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:27 20 February 2013

Food intolerance testing and healthy eating

Food intolerance testing and healthy eating

Editor Clare Bourke learns about healthy eating and food intolerance from Hertford-based holistic nutritionist Melanie Tilbury

Editor Clare Bourke learns about healthy eating and food intolerance from Hertford-based holistic nutritionist Melanie Tilbury

Ive always had a strong constitution and been able to eat almost anything until five years ago when I suddenly developed an allergy to some preservatives, most commonly found in bread products.

It wasnt wheat intolerance and it took me a while to narrow down what I could and couldnt eat but after two years I had cut out all bread products from my diet and finally stopped being ill.

The positive part of this was that it made me really think about the preservatives and additives in food. I started making my own bread, which didnt make me ill, and when I realised a loaf of home-made bread showed mould within four days and yet shop-bought bread could last for 10, it really made me think about what had to be in that processed bread to make it last that long. It couldnt be good could it?

This chain of events led me to make the decision to live a more healthy life, to stop eating so much processed food, take-aways and fatty foods and start eating more fruit, nuts, pulses, vegetables and taking the time to learn to cook better.

Of course Im no saint and I still occasionally eat things that are bad for me but Im now three stone lighter and feel fitter, healthier and happier than ever.

Holistic nutrition

Although I was sure I was doing most things right I wanted to have a food intolerance test so I could be sure I wasnt eating anything I shouldnt be and to see if I could track down what had made me ill in the first place.

Melanie Tilbury is based at the Natural Living Centre in Hertford and offers Holistic Nutrition and Food Intolerance Testing and seemed the perfect person to help.

As an Holistic Nutritional Practitioner, Melanie offers help and advice on your bodys nutritional needs, taking into account diet, lifestyle, emotional and physical factors. The philosophy of holistic health is to encourage people to take control of their health through education, dietary means and complementary techniques.
At our two-hour consultation, Melanie began by asking me a questions about my diet, exercise, sleep patterns and stress levels as well as any illnesses suffered by my parents or grandparents to build up a complete picture of my general well-being.

It did reveal I had a sluggish digestive system probably caused by something I was eating, or not eating enough of, and food intolerance testing might help find out what was causing it and also the insomnia that I occasionally suffer from. She was also able to confirm that I was indeed doing well in my quest to live more healthily and gave me more tips about natural foods that might help.

Melanie says, Holistic Nutrition is about making people aware of making the right food choices, changing the way they think about what they put in their bodies. It can be a whole lifestyle change but when people start to eat that way they stop craving the foods they used to want.

And short term changes are simply not enough: A lot of people are still diet conscious and they do a lot of dieting but when they stop it goes back on. Diets that involve shakes for example just dont work. I dont agree with any diets as they dont educate you about what you should be eating.

Melanie encourages people to eat natural and raw foods and to make changes to the way they eat every day, not just for a few months while they are following a diet.

Food intolerance testing

Next it was time to do the testing. This is done with an electronic analyzer which measures changes in body resistance and pinpoints potentially harmful foods which could be causing your specific symptoms. If a substance is causing a problem it will affect the bodys electrical resistance.

It looks and sounds complex but it simply involves the patient holding a metal bar attached to the energy reader in one hand and a small sensor touching the end of the finger on an acupuncture point which completes the circuit of the machine. The test is simple, painless and gives immediate results. It tests for more than 100 substances including common food and drink, artificial additives and pollens together with a test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Intolerance can be caused by the body having too much of a substance so taking it out of your diet for a period of time can solve the problem.

Melanie explains, The test is 75-80% accurate. The only way to be more accurate is to eliminate food and keep a diary and then decide whether to put them back into your diet. A lot of people stay that way but some reintroduce them after a month. They start with just a tiny amount of a substance and then wait two or three days. If they have no reaction then they can start eating it again but still have to go gradually and check for symptoms.

My results

I almost passed with flying colours but two substances came up on my results, showing I had some intolerance to them pork and coffee. The pork I can understand as I eat a lot of lean ham in my diet but the coffee was a mystery as I have never drunk coffee in my life. I did also show a slight iron deficiency which I can address by eating more iron-rich foods.

And I didnt show intolerance to any of the additives tested so was unfortunately not able to pinpoint my particular problem with bread products, although Melanie was able to confirm this was an allergy as opposed to an intolerance due to the speed with which my body reacts to it.

As well as giving up pork, Melanie suggested that to get to the root of my sluggish digestive system I would need to cut out wheat, dairy and sugar for a month to see if it makes any improvement, and then I can decide whether to carry on avoiding these or re-introduce them. I also need to increase the amount of water I drink so I consume two litres a day, whereas I probably only consume a quarter of that amount now.

I found my session incredibly useful in that it confirmed a lot of things I already knew but also gave me new insight and new tips on how I could improve my health further.

And I will be following an elimination diet, but I will be waiting until January as I dont think I have enough willpower to do it over the Christmas break.


Anin-depth consultation lasts approximately two hours and costs 75. Follow-up consultations are usually necessary for ongoing work. Email and telephone consultations and support are also available.

Natural Living Centre, 15 Currie Street, Hertford SG13 7DA
01992 537535

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