I had an absolutely fascinating chat with Mary Roe, author of Food Intolerance Solution recently. Her book is a must read for anyone who feels they may be intolerant to certain foods.

A bloated stomach, cramps and even pain can be experienced and it could be a reaction in our body from certain foods that over the year we have built up an intolerance too. These are foods we may consume a lot on regular, even on a daily basis. The interesting thing is that Mary is seeing more vegetarians with an intolerance to cheese and vegans with an intolerance to soya products. 

Not all is lost though as she told me that cutting out the food that your body has become intolerant to for 3 months and then re introducing it again should be fine. Just don’t over do it on that food again perhaps limiting it to once or twice a week.

A common food that people feel they could be intolerant to is bread and like in my case you may go to the doctor who suggests going gluten free. However Mary has found less than 1 % of her clients were intolerant to wheat. More common is being intolerant to tea, coffee and yeast too. 

Mary keeps anonymised data from her client’s food intolerance tests to provide an interesting snapshot of the kind of intolerances that most of her clients experience.
Mary analysed the data received from vegetarian clients to debunk some of the myths surrounding the vegetarian diet.
Mary’s data, which has been gathered from 2015 and includes testing results from 698 people in 2015 and so far in 2016, showed 35% of adults reacted adversely to cow’s milk products.

“There were only 26 vegetarians in my survey, out of whom only 11.5% were milk intolerant. But 58% of vegetarians reacted to yeast, all cheese and all yogurt, compared with only 30% of people with meat and fish in their diets.

“So if you are veggie and experiencing any symptoms that you’ve put down to your diet (IBS, headache, migraine, eczema, catarrh, fatigue) read labels carefully to avoid yeast…it is not as simple as just avoiding bread, as yeast is used as a savoury flavour in many crisps, stock cubes and gravies.
Avoiding ALL cheeses and yogurts means cutting out sheep’s goat’s and buffalo mozzarella and even vegan cheeses and yogurts made from soya and coconut.

Mary advises: “Get your protein from pulses and nuts meanwhile.”

Mary’s new book, Food Intolerance Solutions, draws upon a series of case studies to humanise and provide relatable examples. Below is one of her case studies, about a lady called Pam.

I met Pamela when she was 71, she had been suffering from bowel symptoms for 11 years. Like many people, Pam had tried changes to her diet in order to alleviate symptoms. She was suffering intermittent diarrhoea, loose stools and constipation. She was bloated most days, and got moderate to severe tummy pains at least three times a week.

Four years before I met Pam, a colonoscopy and blood tests had revealed nothing abnormal, and she had been given a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. Following hospital advice at the time she stopped drinking fizzy drinks and spicy food. She had been on a wheat and gluten free diet for two years. She avoided onions in any form. All vegetables gave her symptoms, so she rarely ate them. She was very suspicious of fruits, so did not eat much of that food group.

At one stage, before colonoscopy refuted the diagnosis, it had been suggested that she might have diverticulitis, so following some internet research, she had made sure that she never ate any pips or seeds [she would sieve tomatoes to remove the seeds. She had started using lactofree foods, in case lactose intolerance was part of her problem. She did eat fish very occasionally and she really did not like eggs.

As a consequence of all these changes her diet was pretty bland, and not very healthy at all. Despite those massive changes to her diet, she had seen only minimal improvements symptomatically. At the beginning of the testing procedure, I explained to her that, because there were so many foods that she had not eaten for so long, I might have to do a second session of testing a few days later, when she had eaten all of her problem foods. She was very uneasy about this, as she really did not want to risk the bad symptoms that certain vegetables, for example, tended to provoke.

I explained that it was very common for IBS sufferers to suffer symptoms from vegetables and fruit, and that, when the underlying food cause (eg milk, yeast, tea, coffee)| was avoided, then the vegetables, fruit, fizzy drinks, spices etc would not affect their gut.
I also explained about the study that I had done in 2011, when I found that peoples’ perceptions of their problem foods were only 17% accurate.
Eventually we compromised, and she decided she would strictly avoid the foods that I suggested for a week to ten days. When she was asymptomatic, she would introduce the foods she had suspected were bad for her. If she wished, at that stage, I could test her a second time to confirm. On initial testing I found that Pam was intolerant of

  • yeast;
  • all cheeses;
  • all yogurts and
  • hemp / linseeds

The gluten free bread that she had been using contained yeast. Many of her specialist vegetarian products such as quorn and smoked tofu contained yeast, as did the breaded cod that she ate twice a week. In addition, the slimmer’s vegetable soup that she used for lunch on many days of the week contained yeast as a savoury flavour.
She ate cheese daily. She ate yogurt twice daily. She put powdered hemp [linseeds] on cereal, and salads at least twice daily, to ensure she had more protein.
To read more and to check out the book have a look here: www.foodintolerancesolutions.com

Mary Roe has dedicated the past 21 years of her life to diagnosing food intolerances and providing advice to people to help improve their health. This experience led book is packed with research built up by first hand work food intolerance testing many people over many years.