Food Confidence: Food Sensitivity Testing in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

January 25, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.01.39 PM

By Dr Lisa Watson, Naturopathic Doctor

One of the most common medical diagnoses in modern days, is irritable bowel syndrome. Canada has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of IBS in the world with over 5 million Canadians suffering with this condition. Despite the high rates of IBS in Canada, many men and women continue to suffer digestive symptoms long after receiving a diagnosis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a syndrome – a group of symptoms, some of which a person will experience, and some that they will not. A diagnosis of IBS requires that symptoms (gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation) have been on going for at least 6 months with symptoms at least 3 times in the past 3 months. Additionally at least two of the following three criteria must be met:

  • Symptoms are better after bowel movements
  • Symptoms are associated with a change in the frequency of bowel movements
  • Symptoms are associated with a change in the appearance of bowel movements

Food and IBS

Most people have recognized that certain foods can trigger symptoms of IBS. In some cases following a simple food avoidance diet (gluten free, dairy free, etc) can be enough to manage symptoms. In other people they never seem to know what is going to irritate their digestive tracts!

Food Sensitivity Testing and IBS

I believe that the digestive tract is the most important system in the body. It’s necessary for the absorption of nutrients that every other system uses to maintain health and optimal function. Understanding what foods can irritate the digestive tract is a paramount goal in treating IBS.

One means of identifying foods that can trigger IBS symptoms is food sensitivity testing. This is a simple blood test that assesses for the presence of immunoglobulins (antibodies) against foods. The presence of these IgG antibodies tells us there is an immune response, and subsequent inflammation, when that food is consumed.

Clinically, food sensitivity testing can give us confidence – confidence in the understanding of what happens when we consume different foods. Confidence in the knowledge that you are not accidentally provoking your digestive tract into a state of irritability. I have been using food sensitivity testing with my IBS patients for 8 years and have found it to be one of the most useful components of the naturopathic treatment of IBS.

Confident and Calm

The treatment of IBS doesn’t stop with food sensitivity testing. Healing the lining of the digestive tract, supporting healthy bacterial levels, balancing inflammation and immune function – all of these are important goals for treating irritable bowel syndrome. But food sensitivity testing can go along way towards giving you confidence that you are supporting your health with the best foods for your body, and help to calm the irritable nature of your most-important digestive tract.

Further Reading

Check out Dr. Watson’s articles on food sensitivity testing here: Understanding Food Sensitivities (link: and Food Sensitivity Testing: Understanding Your Options (link:


LwatsonDr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community.  As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Follow Dr. Watson on Twitter
Check out Dr Watson’s blog:



Photo Reference:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *