The Results Of My Food Intolerance Test Are In And I’m Intolerant To Cashew Nuts

Our staff writer Michelle is going free-from to beat that mid afternoon slump, the lethargy AND the spots #healthgoals


Buh-bye cashews

According to research by YorkTest Laboratories, over 40% of Irish people suffer, or think they suffer from a food intolerance. IBS, fatigue and eczema are common symptoms of a food intolerance, while swelling, breathing difficulties and anaphylaxis are the very real outcomes of a true food allergy – think eggs, nuts and fish. The severity in response is hugely different and so the terms should be treated as such. If bread bloats you, it’s quite possible you’ve developed a food intolerance to gluten, wheat or yeast, maybe all three – but not an allergy.

Sick in the head

I’ve noticed lately, post chow time, I get a serious lull – not that rub-your-belly-I’m-so-full satisfaction, it’s more of a brain block where I struggle to focus and need a blast of cold air to blow out the cobwebs, followed by a stimulating strong coffee, and a handful of sugary jellies to bring me back to life. #badenergyboost. Food intolerances often manifest in this way and I thought, well, it wouldn’t do any harm to get it checked out, especially if it keeps me from mowing through an entire shop’s stock of Haribo. So two weeks ago I sent off a sample of blood to YorkTest Laboratories.

At-home phlebotomy

The test comprised of a kit including a lancet (you can’t see the needle), a sterile wipe and a plaster. Although it’s entirely painless, puncturing the tip of your finger (as if you were checking blood sugar levels) is tricky – it goes against every human instinct. Once you’ve managed it, you collect the blood in the tiniest tube, wrap it up and send it off. Back in the lab the white coats at YorkTest scan it for intolerances to over 150 different foods and drinks, using IgG antibody markers to identify certain foods that might be causing health problems.

The science bit

Antibodies are blood proteins that are produced in response to foreign substances in the body. They then signal the immune system to remove what they believe is an invader – super helpful when they’re fighting bacteria and viruses, not much when they’re fighting foods and causing undesirable symptoms. In the case of a food intolerance, YorkTest Laboratories are looking for delayed responses to certain foods and drinks. To check for food allergies (which by the way the company don’t test for), rapid reactionary antibodies would be measured.

To the letter

In the seven or eight days it took for the results to return I gorged on cakes and pastries, convinced my beloved gluten would be snatched out of my hands, never to pass my adverse lips again. Turns out I had nothing to worry about; all this time the culprit was cashew nuts. Yep, how random is that for a food intolerance? So I’m blaming the tiredness and all of life’s problems, sure we’ll throw the Grexit in there too, on the deliciously sweet snack. This is going to be a doddle I think, I rarely reach for the comma-shaped kernel. On closer inspection, shock horror, maybe I do.


My diet IRL

Those ‘too tired to cook dinner’ dial ups to Diep were getting waaaay too frequent, and my order of choice? Chicken with cashew nuts. Eek. I’ve also been getting through bags of mixed nuts and seeds at work in an effort to stop me going desk to desk begging for chocolate – I have no shame when it comes to the cocoa bean. A quick glance at the near empty plastic bag confirms my worst fear – I spy a cashew.

More good news

And that’s not all. It seems I have a borderline reaction to cow’s milk (yogurts, cheese, ice-cream… *whispers* chocolate – nooooooooooo), tuna and yeast (also known as wine and bread). That smug smile has turned to horror, and I’m hungry already. On the flip side, nothing’s stopping me from having a crusty slice of white batch, loaded with brie and washed down with a bottle of Cab Sav, except maybe the fear at how shit I might feel – it’s not life threatening though – it’s an intolerance, and hopefully a short term one at that.

Phase One

A free-from 12 weeks never killed anyone (said no one ever), I’d be silly not to give it a go, wouldn’t I? Bearing in mind this is an elimination diet, I’m calling in the big guns and making an appointment with a YorkTest Nutritional Therapist to chat through my results and come up with a healthy meal plan. Stay tuned for round two where I attempt a health overhaul. #help.


The YorkTest Laboratories Food & Drink Scan is €350. If no reactions are found, €320 will be refunded.