Previously Ottawa Holistic Wellness
Is your Irritable Bowel triggered by Food Allergies?

Is your Irritable Bowel triggered by Food Allergies?

So, you have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel or IBS? Or maybe you suspect that you have IBS?

You are experiencing constipation / diarrhoea / bloating / gas and / or cramping. Your doctor has may be prescribed some meds to control the symptoms but otherwise been of little help?

The same thing happened to me at the age of 33. Up until then, I had not had any digestive issues other than cramps if I drank glasses of milk, and suddenly I was in the washroom multiple times, usually at short notice and experiencing terrible diarrhea, cramps and gas. Everywhere I went the first thing I did was find out where the closest washroom was located.. sound familiar?

When my doctor diagnosed IBS, I asked: “So, what causes this?”

He said vaguely, “Oh, could be anything..” When I asked about allergies, he stated categorically that there was no possible link between allergies and IBS, and prescribed meds to control the cramping and diarrhea.

At the suggestion of a friend, I had an allergy test. It came up positive for yeast, cow’s milk products including cheese (I was a BIG cheese fan) and wheat. I immediately cut these foods out of my diet and within 48hrs felt almost completely normal. What a relief!

My doctor was very skeptical. However, I knew that just a few mouthfuls of bread or one glass of wine, which contains a lot of yeast, and I would be in the washroom for most of the next morning.

The top food allergens include wheat, corn, soy, yeast, milk and eggs, however, we are all unique individuals, and you can be reacting to any of the foods you are ingesting.

A true allergy causes an immune response and will trigger an almost immediate reaction. Once that food has been eliminated from your system you will likely feel much better.

If you have an intolerance to food the reaction will be slower. There is no immediate immune response, and it is more an issue with digesting, breaking down and absorbing the food. The reaction can take several days to reach a peak. This makes it quite difficult to work out what is triggering your reactions as it may be nothing you ate today or even yesterday.

So, how do you find out whether you have food allergies?

There are many ways to test.

You can try an elimination diet, removing suspected foods and monitoring the result. After a trial period without the foods, you reintroduce them one at a time. It can be difficult to obtain definite answers, particularly when you are reacting to several foods – eliminating one brings little relief as you are still reacting to the others.

Your family doctor or a naturopathic doctor can requisition a blood test that looks for antibodies to certain foods. You have to be eating the allergens in your everyday diet to be tested, so if you have removed say wheat and then want to find out if you are Celiac the doctor will ask that eat it for several weeks or even months before testing.

I have found blood testing to be reasonably accurate for allergies, but that it can provide false negatives for intolerances and emotional reactions to foods where there is no immune response.

Skin testing can also provide answers. Your family doctor will need to refer you to a medical allergist to have this done. In my practice, I have found this method ideal for identifying bigger allergies, but have also seen cases where the skin showed no reaction even though there is a strong reaction when eating that food.

As a Natural Allergist, I prefer to use Muscle Response Testing, also known as Autonomic Response Testing or Applied Kinesiology. This method utilises the body’s response to potential allergens and can assess allergies, intolerances and emotional reactions to foods. It is an effective way of asking the body to tell us what it likes and does not like. It has the added benefit that you do not have to be eating the allergens to be tested.

Whichever method you choose having an allergy test can provide much-needed answers and, as in my case, bring enormous relief from your IBS symptoms.

If you want to find out more about the triggers for IBS, come for a complimentary initial consultation with one of my colleagues at Ottawa Holistic Wellness or me.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you

Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

What have you tried to help your symptoms?

Let us know in the comments below.