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Which Foods Trigger IBS Attacks?

A person suffering from IBS symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the large intestine and in turn the digestive system. If you suffer from IBS, you’re not alone, as 1 in 5 adults are affected by the condition making it fairly common.

IBS causes symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation, which can last for a varying amount of time, and tend to come and go over time.

There’s currently no cure for IBS and the disorder can be difficult to live with, especially around mealtime. A change in diet, whilst frustrating, can help to improve avoiding symptoms.

Common IBS Triggers

Our Complete Intolerance Test

Discovering what your personal trigger foods are can help alleviate symptoms and give you a little more freedom when it comes to dinner time.

However, IBS isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ condition and foods can affect people differently. What’s more, it may not be practical to cut out all foods immediately – so you should instead make a list of suspect foods that you know trigger your IBS symptoms and eliminate them one by one over time to see if it makes a difference to your lifestyle.

Alternatively, our intolerance tests can identify which items may be triggering your IBS attacks to help effectively optimise your diet change. That said, here are the common foods that trigger IBS attacks:

Fried and fatty foods

High fat foods including cheese, fries, and fatty meats can be difficult on the digestive system, especially when suffering with IBS. The chemical makeup of food can be changed when frying, which can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, most notably diarrhoea.

If you’re finding it difficult to cut out these foods, grilling or baking may reduce the severity of IBS symptoms, as well as being a healthier alternative.


Dairy is an important component of a healthy diet due to it being calcium-rich. However many dairy products are high in fat which can trigger IBS symptoms. High fat dairy products can include:

  • Heavy Cream.
  • Whole Milk Yogurt.
  • Whole Milk.
  • Butter
  • Full-Fat Cheese.

It’s also unclear whether people suffering from IBS are more susceptible to lactose intolerance. However, switching to low fat dairy or dairy alternatives such as plant milks may reduce the severity of IBS symptoms.

If, for whatever reason, you need to cut out dairy altogether, make sure to include calcium rich foods into your diet such as:

  • White beans
  • Almonds
  • Sardines
  • Seeds
  • Dried figs


Found in foods such as pasta, bread, and cookies, wheat contains the gluten protein which around 5% of the population are allergic to. The symptoms produced by gluten disorders, such as coeliac disease, are very similar to IBS and therefore it’s difficult to distinguish which disorder you may be suffering from.


Fibre is a carbohydrate component of food and plays a key role in normalising bowel habits. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, and the body reacts differently to each. This means that each type of fibre can help your IBS symptoms or trigger them.

Think of fibre like a tap. Soluble fibre slows down the digestive tract which helps with diarrhoea, whereas insoluble fibre speeds up the process, relieving constipation.

Depending on your IBS symptoms, react with the correct type of fibre to help alleviate your suffering.

High fibre fruits and Vegetables
High fibre fruits and Vegetables

Soluble fibre is found in:

  • Apples
  • Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pears
  • Avocados

Insoluble fibre can be found in:

  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Leafy greens
  • Zucchini
  • Rolled oats
  • Brown rice


A piece of chocolate (or a whole bar) is often the perfect treat to satisfy that sweet tooth. However due to its ingredients containing sugar, lactose, caffeine, and typically being high in fat, chocolate can often be a IBS trigger food, leading sufferers to experience constipation.

But who really wants to cut out chocolate? Trying a plant-based alternative may help reduce the severity of your IBS symptoms.

Caffeinated and fizzy drinks

Giving up your morning coffee may be a deal breaker for most, but caffeinated drinks can often cause diarrhoea due to a stimulating effect on the intestines. Energy drinks, fizzy soft drinks and coffee can therefore be a trigger for IBS symptoms.

If you’re finding it difficult to cut these out altogether, decaffeinated versions of your favourite beverages may help reduce the severity of your symptoms.


Alongside being difficult to digest, alcohol leads to dehydration which has even further effects on the digestive system. Plus different alcoholic drinks can have varied effects on the body and therefore could trigger IBS symptoms; beer, for example, often contains gluten, and wines and mixers can contain high amounts of sugar.

Processed foods

Processed foods are simply foods that have been altered in any way during preparation; this can include canning, baking, freezing, and drying. Whilst not all processed foods are unhealthy, eating a lot of them can lead to serious health issues for anyone as they contain a high quantity of added salt, sugar, and fat. They also include additives and preservatives which can trigger IBS. Processed foods include:

  • Cereal
  • Crisps
  • Sausage rolls
  • Ready meals
  • Biscuits

Identifying Personal IBS Trigger Foods

You’ve narrowed down your IBS trigger food list, now how do you put the elimination diet into practice?

The elimination diet should begin with a cleanse of all trigger foods on your list. Keeping a food diary is recommended here to keep track of your progress, as well as charting symptoms. If you’re noticing that your symptoms are being alleviated, it means that the elimination diet is working.

Elimination diets should be a short term experiment, as many of the foods you are cutting out will be important for a healthy diet.

Once you’ve eliminated your trigger foods, it’s time to slowly reintroduce them. Take one food type at a time and eat a small amount to see if your symptoms resurge. If they don’t, try a larger amount the following day. Please note that symptoms could take a few days to appear after eating the trigger food.

Repeat the process for each trigger food and log your results in your food diary. Please note that you should only be sampling only one of your trigger foods at a time to keep the results accurate.

Looking to speed up the process? Read how our food sensitivity test can help IBS sufferers.

Food Allergy Laws in Restaurants in the UK

There is no sincere love than the love of food


Cooking food is an art, and the cornerstone of great cooking is the art of preparation, serving, and presentation of food. Cooking food, similar to processing and formulation, is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to predict. The simplest treatment, such as heating, can alter the structure and allergenic activity of food allergens. Food allergies affect an estimated 2 million adults in the UK, not including all of the people suffering from food intolerances too. Around 44% of adults in Britain are currently suffering from at least one allergy, with almost half of allergy sufferers experiencing more than one allergy {1}.

According to the NHS, food allergy is an immune system response that can be either an IgE-mediated or non-IgE-mediated food allergy. In rare cases, there can be a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which can be life-threatening. Because of the serious impacts of a food allergy, eating in a restaurant can be daunting for those who have allergies. With previous incidents of allergic reactions in the UK, food labelling on pre-packaged items has seen an improvement, but what about restaurants? Within this article we will discuss current laws in the UK and what this means for you when you are eating out.

Natasha’s Law

Natasha’s Law came into effect on the 1st October 2021 and benefits the millions of people living with allergies in the UK. Natasha Ednan-Laperouse had a fatal allergic reaction in 2016 after purchasing a pre-packed baguette which did not have the ingredients listed on it. Natasha’s family have since campaigned to introduce clearer allergen labelling on foods. As a result, Natasha’s law ensures that all pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) food items in the UK must have a full list of ingredients, with the 14 major allergens emphasised in the list.

The 14 Common Allergens

The Food Standards Agency has listed these 14 common allergens that must be mentioned clearly on packaged products. These include:

14 Common Allergens. Celery, Cereals containing gluten (wheat, barley, oats), Crustaceans (prawns, crabs and lobsters), Lupin, Milk, Molluscs, Mustard, Peanut, Sesame, Soybeansm Sulphur Dioxide, Sulphites (greater than  10 parts per million) and tree nuts such as: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts.

Who enforces allergy regulations?

The Food Standards Agency is responsible for providing the framework in which local authorities operate. With food businesses, local authorities enforce these regulations around allergen information. This means if businesses fail to comply, the local authority can take action by giving advice, issuing an improvement notice, then finally issuing a penalty.

What are the allergy laws in restaurants?

Despite Natasha’s Law being a positive step for pre-packaged foods, there is still a lack of regulation in restaurants. A third of allergy sufferers state that they have experienced an allergic reaction while eating at a restaurant. Research has found that some of these allergic reactions still occurred after conveying the allergy to staff {2}. However, the law is not as strict for these types of food businesses compared to pre-packed food.

Restaurants must provide allergen information in writing, with full allergen information provided on either a menu, chalkboard or in an information pack. If the allergens are not clear on the menu, a written notice should be available to explain to customers how to find out allergy information. Nevertheless, this legislation puts the emphasis on the consumer being responsible for requesting extra information rather than it always being visible for all customers. Because of this, customers could face the danger of waiters not fully understanding allergies or making mistakes with allergen information. The risks of this are clear, and became a reality for Owen Carey.

Owen was used to ordering foods to fit his restricted diet from allergies, but at a restaurant without information available on the menu he had to trust his waiter. After explaining his allergies to the server, Owen was assured that his burger was plain, yet unbeknownst to him, it had been marinated in buttermilk. This simple mistake cost Owen his life, and has sparked the call for change around restaurant allergen information.

Owen’s Law

The Owen’s Law petition hopes to improve the way allergy information is provided in restaurants in the UK. It is argued that to prevent further deaths from allergies, all restaurants should state allergens in their dishes on the face of the main menu. The Food Standards Agency supports the campaign’s call for greater training for restaurant staff so they understand their responsibilities when it comes to allergies. Owen’s family continue to fight for this law to become accepted in the UK. In the meantime, you can read our tips for feeling confident when eating at a restaurant with food sensitivities.

How Food Businesses Can Help

All establishments serving food can ensure that allergic reactions are avoided by taking specific steps to decrease the likelihood of incidents. This involves the following steps that can prevent such allergic reactions in restaurants:

  • Display the ingredient lists.
  • Provide recipes for the menu items.
  • Train staff comprehensively on food allergies.
  • Use separate utensils and areas when cooking and preparing meals for customers with food allergies, if possible, to prevent cross-contamination. If there isn’t enough space, wiping down the surfaces thoroughly would help.
  • Have a special plan for serving guests with special dietary needs.

Restaurants and environmental health programs have the ability to work together and reduce the risk of customer food allergic reactions in their restaurant.

Allergy Friendly Restaurants

At Lifelab Testing, we want all allergy sufferers to feel confident when eating in restaurants. That’s why we’ve created a tool for exploring allergy friendly restaurants near you.

Final thoughts

Our Complete Body Test

To eat out in restaurants and not experience allergy or intolerance symptoms, you firstly need to know your body. To do this, a Complete Body Test will analyse your body’s reaction to 38 allergens and 79 intolerances. With this knowledge in hand, you can avoid food items which cause your symptoms. When eating in restaurants, this information will be essential in choosing which dish you want to eat. Take control of your own food journey with Allergy or Intolerance Test from Lifelab Testing.


  1. Mintel’s Allergy and Allergy Remedies UK 2010. Foods Matter. (https://www.foodsmatter.com/allergy_intolerance/miscellaneous/articles/mintel_allergy_report_2010.html)
  2. Oriel RC, Waqar O, Sharma HP, Casale TB, Wang J. Characteristics of Food Allergic Reactions in United States Restaurants. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2021 Apr;9(4):1675-1682. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.12.018. Epub 2020 Dec 15. PMID: 33338685. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33338685/)

Can a Food Intolerance Cause Weight Gain?

Mystery weight gain can be one of the most baffling – and frustrating – symptoms someone can experience. Sometimes the explanation is outside of what is considered traditional as it pertains to weight gain.  Typically, when someone has unexplained weight gain, they have already gone to their general practitioners and had lab work and testing done to rule out more serious causes.   When a patient falls into this category of otherwise normal exams, labs, and testing, it makes sense to look at unexplained weight gain through a different lens.  Sometimes it is not as complicated as it may seem.

Up to 30% of people in the UK suspect they might have a food intolerance/sensitivity of some kind. Food intolerances are a subset of all adverse food reactions and are reported by 15 to 20 percent of the population in the United States as well. Food intolerances/sensitivities are even more common among patients with irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gastrointestinal disorders, with 50 to 80 percent reporting consistent problems with certain foods [1].  The most common symptoms of food intolerances include digestive problems (bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, discomfort etc), and many people have also discovered that their sensitivities may also be contributing to weight gain.

What exactly is a food intolerance?

There is a lot of confusion regarding intolerances vs. allergies.  Intolerances/sensitivities and allergies are often terms that are used interchangeably.  However, they are clinically different, and should not be used as synonyms.  As I tell my patients, an allergy is cut and dry.  If you’re allergic, your immune system is heavily involved, they can be life threatening, and you avoid it.  Food allergy is due to an abnormal immunologic response following exposure (usually ingestion) to a food [1,2]. There are multiple types of food allergies, each with distinct clinical and pathophysiologic features.  Food allergies are broadly categorized into either immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated or non-IgE-mediated processes.  IgE-mediated food allergic reactions are rapid in onset, typically beginning within minutes to two hours from the time of ingestion.  They can be life-threatening and cause anaphylaxis.

Food intolerances/sensitivities often have “a grey area” that is not as easily understood. Unlike an allergy, food intolerances aren’t usually life-threatening – but they can be life-limiting. Food intolerances are not immunologic allergies and do not carry the same risk as an immune system reaction from allergies. A simple way to explain the difference is that food intolerances/sensitivities generally involve the digestive system (although sometimes other body systems and symptoms occur), the amount of food ingested is directly related to the severity of symptoms, and the food causes similar symptoms with each exposure.  A food sensitivity occurs when your body is unable to digest certain compounds, such as the proteins found milk, eggs, wheat, or soy etc.  After you consume a food that contains these compounds, you may later experience uncomfortable symptoms. 

The tricky part is that these symptoms can be delayed by up to 48 hours.  They can also occur due to imbalances in gastrointestinal pH, gut microbiome, and intestinal integrity.  More and more research from some of the top medical schools, hospitals and institutions in the world are continuing extensive research on the immune system and gut connection. 

Dr. David Heber, MD, PhD, from UCLA School of Medicine [4] states, “70% of the immune system is located in the gut, where diverse bacteria is best.  You likely know that what you eat can affect your weight and energy level throughout the day.  But you might not realize the extent to which diet affects the immune system.”

How can food intolerances cause weight gain?

Our Complete Intolerance Test Box.

When you eat something you’re intolerant to, it can cause your digestive tract to become inflamed, often resulting in symptoms like those of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  Chronic inflammation can impact weight gain. To control inflammation, the body naturally produces cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone that comes from the adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys. In addition to reducing inflammation, however, cortisol increases insulin levels, and can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. As the body produces more insulin to control blood sugar, it can eventually cause insulin-resistance.

When there is a lot of excess insulin and blood sugar in our blood stream, it signals our body to put that excess sugar in storage. We can store some sugar in our liver and muscles, but when these are full, our body starts to store the extra sugar as fat. This of course starts to cause weight gain. Insulin resistance can interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize the foods you eat, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.  These changes encourage the body to store fat rather than processing calories efficiently.  Therefore, unidentified intolerances and sensitivities that cause chronic inflammation can sometimes contribute to unexplained weight gain over time. Food intolerance testing can serve as an additional health optimization tool to help you feel your best. 


  1. Lomer MC. Review article: the aetiology, diagnosis, mechanisms and clinical evidence for food intolerance. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Feb;41(3):262-75. doi: 10.1111/apt.13041. Epub 2014 Dec 3. PMID: 25471897.
  2. NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel, Boyce JA, Assa’ad A, Burks AW, Jones SM, Sampson HA, Wood RA, Plaut M, Cooper SF, Fenton MJ, Arshad SH, Bahna SL, Beck LA, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Camargo CA Jr, Eichenfield L, Furuta GT, Hanifin JM, Jones C, Kraft M, Levy BD, Lieberman P, Luccioli S, McCall KM, Schneider LC, Simon RA, Simons FE, Teach SJ, Yawn BP, Schwaninger JM. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Dec;126(6 Suppl):S1-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.007. PMID: 21134576; PMCID: PMC4241964.
  3. Sampson HA, Aceves S, Bock SA, James J, Jones S, Lang D, Nadeau K, Nowak-Wegrzyn A, Oppenheimer J, Perry TT, Randolph C, Sicherer SH, Simon RA, Vickery BP, Wood R; Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, Bernstein D, Blessing-Moore J, Khan D, Lang D, Nicklas R, Oppenheimer J, Portnoy J, Randolph C, Schuller D, Spector S, Tilles SA, Wallace D; Practice Parameter Workgroup, Sampson HA, Aceves S, Bock SA, James J, Jones S, Lang D, Nadeau K, Nowak-Wegrzyn A, Oppenheimer J, Perry TT, Randolph C, Sicherer SH, Simon RA, Vickery BP, Wood R. Food allergy: a practice parameter update-2014. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Nov;134(5):1016-25.e43. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Aug 28. PMID: 25174862.
  4. David Heber M.D., Ph.D., FACP, FASN – Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute https://iamherbalifenutrition.com/health-and-wellness/gut-bacteria-influence-health/

Lifelab Testing Wood Anniversary

Lifelab Testing is proud to be celebrating five years as a company. Even though Lifelab is still young and just celebrating a wood anniversary, our company is part of a wellness group, Healthy Stuff. We have over 15 years of experience helping people live better lives. We are proud of our services, helping you discover your allergies and intolerances, which contribute to your wellness by taking charge of your diet. We are very proud to be celebrating our wood anniversary as it’s a sign that we’ve been helping thousands of people each month better their lives.

Our products and services

In the beginning, Lifelab Testing only offered allergy and intolerance tests to customers. However, we soon realised that our customers deserve more than that. We expanded our tests to offer more specialist tests like:

  • Thyroid test
  • Iron deficiency test
  • Liver function test
  • Vitamin D test
  • Kidney test
  • My DNA fitness test
  • Inflammation test
  • Prostate health test

We have expanded our test kits to test for 99% of all allergens in your environment, food, and drinks. We are also proud to be the UK’s number one test. We serve our customers from all around the world with the determination to help each one of our customers who suffer from allergies and intolerances.

Meet the team

We wouldn’t be where we are today, without our amazing team! From our talented lab, our friendly customer service and our productive marketing team, we wanted to celebrate the day well! So we had a pizza and champagne party to celebrate the 5th anniversary at our Derby offices.

You can meet more of the team here.

Recent awards

According to Trusted Shops, we are the UK’s highest-rated allergy testing company. We have an overall rating of over 4.19. We are delighted to get awards because it shows that we’re helping others take charge of their diets and getting the positive recognition we deserve. We are humbled to receive many nominations and awards, which show our growth as we celebrate our wood anniversary. We hope to get noticed for more awards in the future. Some of the recent awards we have received include the following:

  • E-Commerce Business of the Year 2019
  • Business Improvement through Technology 2020

Check them out here.


  • Business Improvement through Technology 2021. Derbyshire Chamber Business Awards
  • Best Health and Beauty eCommerce, Best Leisure, Fitness and Outdoors eCommerce, Best Specialist eCommerce 2018. eCommerce Awards

Thank you for helping us to get to this amazing landmark anniversary, we couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to many more years of growth, and development and helping people to understand their allergies, intolerances and evaluate their health!

Healthy Eating Tips for the New Year

New Year is a time to reflect on the year that’s passed, as well as consider personal changes you want to make in this upcoming year. For many individuals, wanting to take control of their health and diet is a common New Year resolution. According to Statista, 43% of UK adults’ resolution in 2022 was to eat healthier. It can be difficult, however, to know how to make positive lifestyle changes that can be maintained over time, as many fail to keep up their resolution throughout the year.

At Lifelab Testing, we want to give you a helping hand in forming a healthier lifestyle this year. To do this, we encourage you to learn more about your body internally before you form a New Year diet plan. You could eat extremely healthily but still feel fatigued and bloated if you are suffering from an intolerance or allergy.

Allergy and Intolerance Testing

Start this new year by understanding how your body reacts to the foods that you’re consuming. Although you may be consuming healthy foods, if your body lacks the enzyme to digest certain foods or your immune system reacts to particular food items, you’d be dealing with an intolerance or allergy. Because of this, we suggest that before you plan any diet, you should consider which foods your body can tolerate well or not. Allergy and Intolerance testing can indicate which foods you should avoid in your diet so as to not experience symptoms.

If you feel excessive bloating, stomach pain or heartburn after eating certain meals, you could have an undiagnosed intolerance that’s impacting your digestion. Through taking a Complete Intolerance Test at home, you can see how your body reacts to 159 food items. Your journey doesn’t end here, as you are entitled to a free 30-minute session with Nutritional Therapist to help you understand your results and plan any lifestyle changes.

On the other hand, if you are unsure whether your symptoms are more severe and could be an allergy, you can take a Complete Body Test which analyses your sample to test for both allergies and intolerances.

Elimination Diet Plan

A notebook with a diet plan
Notebook with a diet plan

If your results indicate you have an allergy or intolerance, it is important to now evaluate your diet moving forwards. For individuals with allergies, this will involve completely removing the harmful food from your diet and finding alternatives. For those with intolerances, it is recommended that you remove these foods using an elimination diet. This cleansing starts to restore balance in body systems and stimulates excretory organs. Once you are sure of which foods cause you internal issues, your new year goal of eating healthier can truly begin.

New year diet plan

Now that you’re aware of which foods are positive to be consuming for your own health, we can begin to look at some great recipes to kick start your new year. Below, we’ve included some great healthy recipes for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast Recipes

Balanced breakfast

  • Place gluten-free rice cakes on a plate and spoon cottage cheese to cover them (if vegan, swap cottage cheese for a non-dairy alternative or make your own).
  • Sprinkle with a range of tasty toppings like chopped strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and chopped nuts for protein.

Gluten free breakfast

  • Place a large handful of spinach into a lightly oiled frying pan and wilt gently.
  • Turn spinach onto a plate.
  • Scramble two eggs then place on top of the spinach.
  • If wanted, sprinkle sesame seeds on top for extra essential fatty acids.

Fruit for breakfast

  • Enjoy a yummy breakfast of live yoghurt to help your digestive system.
  • Add in your favourite fruits, like bananas, pears or apples.

Lunch recipe

One lunch recipe we love, combines a mixture of protein and vegetables for a healthy choice.

  • Start with a large handful of mixed salad leaves.
  • Sprinkle a mixture of seeds such as pomegranate seeds, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds.
  • For protein, choose between salmon, hard boiled eggs, prawns, hams or cheeses.
  • For a vegan alternative, choose lentils or beans as your source of protein.

Allergic Rhinitis Guide

Allergic rhinitis is believed to be the most common allergic disease in the world, affecting approximately 10-30% of the adult population {1}.

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

The condition is categorised by inflammation of the upper airways, including nasal obstruction and itching, sneezing and rhinorrhea. These symptoms are caused by inhaling allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mould, animal dander or wood dust. Considering allergic rhinitis already affects so many of us, and prevalence rates are increasing, we’ve put together a guide to learn more about the disorder. Firstly, we’ll talk about how there are different types of allergic rhinitis.

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis

Perennial allergic rhinitis is experienced across the year, not pertaining to a certain month or season. This perennial version of the disorder is often caused by house dust mites or pets who are a constant in the house.

Another Name for Allergic Rhinitis

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis is often called hay fever.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Seasonal allergies occur when pollen counts are high, depending on the type of pollen that causes your rhinitis. Tree pollen is common in early spring, grass pollen is more typical of late spring and summer, whereas ragweed pollen is common in autumn. There are myths about hayfever, including that hay and flowers are the causes but this is not the case.

Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

A woman with a headache
A woman having a headache

The main symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy or blocked nose.
  • A cough.
  • An itchy mouth.
  • Streaming or itchy eyes.
  • Headaches and sinus pain.

Allergic rhinitis has been described as a world health problem since these symptoms can impact absenteeism from work or school, decreased productivity, less sleep, and more doctors appointments. It has even been suggested that the condition causes low job productivity globally even more than high blood pressure and diabetes {2}.

Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma

Allergic rhinitis and asthma frequently co-exist and have a close relationship, wherein at least three out of four people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis. The two conditions share a similar pathology, but influence the upper and lower airways differently.

Health professionals use the ‘Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma’ (ARIA) guidelines to determine the influence of allergic rhinitis on your life in order to tailor treatment plans. They will look at the duration of symptoms (intermittent or persistent) as well as their severity (mild, moderate or severe).

Allergic Rhinitis vs Covid

Although the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and covid-19 can overlap, you should still be able to determine whether you are experiencing allergies or covid. Coronavirus symptoms are more likely to include a dry cough and fever, as well as shortness of breath. If you are unsure, we recommend you take a covid test.

Allergic Rhinitis Treatments

There are different ways to manage your allergic rhinitis to calm symptoms from impacting your day-to-day life.

Nasal Spray for Allergic Rhinitis

Corticosteroid nasal sprays can effectively reduce inflammation in the nose which reduces itching and sneezing. Nasal sprays are available in local pharmacies, or you may be able to have stronger versions prescribed for you based on your doctor’s recommendation.

Antihistamine for Allergic Rhinitis

Antihistamines can effectively control itching and sneezing in those who have mild allergic rhinitis. However, this treatment does not seem as useful in tackling a blocked nose. For individuals with seasonal or situational allergic rhinitis, antihistamines can be used as a preventative measure prior to coming into contact with the allergen, for example if you are allergic to dogs you may take an antihistamine pill before going to someone’s house where there is a dog.

Immunotherapy for Allergic Rhinitis

Immunotherapy is possible for individuals who have moderately severe allergic rhinitis which is impacting their quality of life. Specific immunotherapy involves administering increasing doses of an allergen in order to induce tolerance to it over time. This treatment can prevent you from experiencing allergic symptoms in the future as well as reduce your risk of developing asthma as a result of rhinitis.

Allergic Rhinitis Test

If you take an at home allergy test, you can be notified whether you are allergic to environmental factors such as bahia grass, birch, or cladosporium herbarum, as well as cat and dog dander. It is beneficial to understand your body so that you can be prepared when you come into contact with these allergens again.


  1. https://rjme.ro/RJME/resources/files/630222413419.pdf
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/55/11/712/htm

Allergy Testing and Diagnostics: 2022 Workshop Summary

Lifelab Testing’s Bioscientist, Felicia Oladipo attended the Allergy and Diagnostics Workshop on Thursday, 13th October 2022 and found very useful and interesting current data from the session. The workshop was held at the EuroImmun International Training Centre in London. The topics covered in this intensive course included allergy pathogenesis, allergy diagnostics, allergy management, allergy extracts and components, cross-reactive carbohydrates determinants (CCD) and cross-reactivities, allergy immunoblots, and state of the art automated solutions for allergy testing.

Why is this research critical? The recent data has predicted that by 2025, approximately half of the entire EU population will be affected by at least one chronic allergic disease, therefore it is critical that we understand these immunological reactions.

That’s why this article will recap some of the key findings and themes discussed during the conference, and touch on what this might mean for health care businesses in the allergy industry, affected patients and within the larger immunological world.

Presentation 1 – Delivered by Nuran Eslik

Allergy Introduction and Evaluation

The opening presentation covered exactly how the body reacts when introduced to an allergen, which is a crucial area of study that can impact the allergen testing process and suitable treatment or prevention.

The first key observation introduced was that when it comes to a hypersensitivity reaction, the IgE mast cell is activated, and the symptoms usually appear within 15-30 minutes.

The body responds by causing symptoms such as: 

Key takeaways

The latest industry data suggests that allergies are becoming more prevalent, especially for individuals under 18 years old. It is evident that most allergic patients are polysensitized, with around 60% of the patients being allergic to more than one allergen.

This presentation also showed us data that predicts that half of the entire EU population will be affected by a chronic allergic disease by 2025. It is more important now, than ever before, for people to improve their knowledge on how to identify allergies from their symptoms.

Allergy Testing

Then the presentation dove deeper into the IgE mast cell activation which, as mentioned, can produce physiological symptoms from allergic reactions, typically appearing within 15-30 minutes.

The current allergy blood test measurements that the technology of today allows for can detect an allergic reaction by testing IgE levels, but scientists haven’t been able to put their finger on is the exact cause or possible pathways behind allergic behind the allergic reactions.

There are, however, different types of diagnostics available to aid the detection of possible allergens. The methods discussed in this seminar include:

basic allergy test
Basic Allergy Test.
  • Euroline: An extract-based diagnostics. It can, for example, include collecting parts of birch pollen that result in allergy symptoms and coating it on a nitrocellulose strip. 
  • Allergen-specific IgE: This is an efficient allergy diagnostic. It can include up to 54 allergens in one test strip. In this case, a low serum sample volume is required, fully automated performance and evaluation, and various profiles (allergens) are available for testing. At Lifelab Testing, we use this method of diagnosis in our at home allergy tests.
  • Country-specific profiles: In this case, you can focus more on allergens that are more common in those countries/regions. In this case, you can have purified allergens on a membrane chip, ensuring an optimal membrane for each antigen. You can also have a combination of various allergens bringing about a fixed allergen position leading to easy evaluation.

Whether new methods are to be established remains unclear, however IgE testing is clearly growing particularly in the UK and EU.

Other noteworthy themes emerging from the presentation included:

Issues with cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants

Cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants (CCD) are protein-linked structures that are responsible for cross-reactivity. In allergy testing, CCDs can cause issues such as:

  • Defined partial allergen diagnostic.
  • Diagnostics based on single allergen components (partial allergens).
  • Multiple sensitizations.
  • Unclear results.
  • Clarification of cross-reactions.
  • Risk assessments.
  • Therapy decisions.

Limitations of allergen extracts

A lot of in vitro allergy testing are still based on allergen extracts obtained from natural allergen sources. Allergen extracts are disadvantageous because of:

  1. Varying labs and tests. Different labs have different standards or use different components of plants to determine the allergy. 
  2. DPA-Dx standardisation of the quantity of allergen components can be more expensive. 

Definition of DPA-Dx

DPA-Dx allows accurate identification of the allergen-causing component (s). This additional detection does not base diagnostics on solely specific IgE antibodies in the serum, but also on recombinantly produced individual proteins (components)

What is the clinical significance of this research?

EuroImmun say “Molecular allergy diagnostics detect specific IgE antibodies in serum. The detection, however, is not based on total extracts of the allergen sources as conventionally, but on recombinantly produced individual proteins.”

This enables the following:

  • Prognosis of possible tolerance development
  • Risk assessment and estimation of the severity of allergic reactions
  • Selection of a suitable specific immunotherapy
  • Delimitation of (CCD-dependent) cross-reactions and genuine multiple sensitisations

EuroImmun offers inhalation, foods and insect venom DPA-Dx Profiles for simultaneous testing of all relevant components of the respective allergen sources.

Major vs Minor Allergens

Another key distinction for those in the allergy industry to note, is that allergens can be classified as either ‘major’ or ‘minor’ based on their IgE-binding frequency. Below, we outline the difference between significant allergens and minor allergens.

Major allergens

Major allergens have characteristics like:

  • React in more than 50% of patients.
  • Specific for a particular allergy.
  • Often highly abundant in the allergen source. 

Minor allergens

Minor allergens, on the other hand:

  • React in less than 50% of patients.
  • Trigger for cross-reactions.
  • Often low abundance in the allergen source.

Cross-reactivity can occur due to the similar structure of the allergens (for example, botanical relations). This can therefore make you seem that you are allergic to other things that have a similar molecular structure. 

Low-risk sensitisations

In the case of sensitisation to low-risk components, targeted dietary advice includes looking at the:

  • Strength of DPA-Dx.
  • Standardisation of tests.
  • Detection of major and minor components.
  • Detection of the most important protein families.
  • Differentiation of cross-reactions vs true polysensitisation.
  • Indication for the severity of clinical symptoms.
  • Improved risk assessments for individual patients.
  • Advisory for dietary restrictions/cooking.

It is hoped by that pursuing and developing these methodologies, IgE testing can become even more accurate and reliable; consistently delivering actionable results to patients.

Presentation 2 – Delivered by Nuran Eslik and Lucrezia Perazzotti

Immunoblots: Incubation and Evaluation

This presentation included showcasing the Euroline allergy test kit and choosing the optimal membrane for the allergen on the strip when testing. This presentation also involved a tour around the International Training Centre and an explanation of the different immunodiagnostic instruments in the second presentation and how to prepare samples for testing on such machines (Euroline allergy test kit) and their benefits. This demonstration was useful in comparing our own tests at Lifelab Testing to others in the industry.


  • Eurimmune, DPA-Dx https://www.euroimmun.co.jp/products/allergy-diagnostics/id/dpa-dx/

Migraine & IBS

Anyone who has experienced a migraine will tell you it is debilitating. It can completely destroy any ideas you had of productivity for the day and can make your life miserable. Suffering them occasionally is bad enough, but, for some people, migraines are almost a routine experience that can occur VERY regularly. Does this sound familiar?

We have identified a link that you might not have considered…

Is allergy and intolerance testing useful to understand triggered symptoms?

At Lifelab Testing, we know that the management of symptoms in the case of an undiagnosed or not fully understood problem can be quite frustrating.

Sometimes you are experiencing symptoms such as irritation, mood swings, bloating, itchiness and many others, and the only thing you want to do is find a solution for your problem and move on.

At Lifelab, we are here to help you take the first steps to understand more about your body, the cause of your symptoms and help you to improve your health.

We are here to provide you with all the information you will need to take the next step. We will provide you with updated scientific research studies highlighting new development and important advancement in the field of allergy and intolerance testing.

Due to the unclear relationship between IBS and migraines in dietary factors, we have compiled some recent studies indicating that people with migraines and IBS symptoms that followed a restriction diet (under medical/nutritionist supervision, of foods with higher IgG levels) can improve the management of their symptoms and their quality of life.


Elif Ilgaz Aydinlar et al(1) previously reported the possibility to use food elimination diet based on IgG antibodies in migraine and IBS patients showing reduce symptoms with a positive impact on the quality of life of both patients. This study also demonstrated how this could potentially reduce the costs in the health-care system.

In 2017 Hong Sub Lee and Kwang Jae Lee (2)reported that high levels of IgG4 antibodies were observed in IBS patients, suggesting that to improve the quality of life of those patients an elimination diet could be used, eliminating those foods with high levels of IgG4. This study was performed on a small number of people, and the authors suggested that for a more comprehensive study, a large group of people could be investigated in the future.

The pathophysiology of migraines is complex and not well understood. In literature, it is reported how some foods could trigger migraines (chocolate, cheese, and wine to mention some).

 James F. Geiselman (3) in 2019 reported as testing for IgG antibodies in patients with migraines is a beneficial tool for practitioners to treat patients with migraine and headache symptoms, adjusting their diet requirements without using any medications.

Recent studies suggested the possibility of using IgG testing as a tool to adjust dietary requirements in people affected by IBS and migraines, limiting the use of medications to treat some of those cases.

We can see that in recent literature, there is good evidence for the use of allergy and intolerance blood testing as a preliminary tool to manage and treat symptoms from migraines and IBS.

Here at LifeLab, we provide products to test blood allergy and intolerances using a simple home test kit. Our comprehensive Complete Blood test can provide you with a map of your immune system (Allergy Type I IgE and Type III IgG) including IgE mediated allergy and not IgE mediated allergy (IgG4 asymptomatic), and help you in the identification of allergies and intolerances that could be the cause of your migraine.

We Can Help

So what you are waiting for…. Have a look at our tests and start this journey with us and remember if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us, our scientists will be more than happy to help you! And remember we are in it together…

(1) https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02296.x (Elif Ilgaz Aydinlar et al.)

(2) http://www.jnmjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5056/jnm17054 (Hong Sub Lee and Kwang Jae Lee)

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31456119/ (James F. Geiselman)

What does ‘Meat’ mean in my allergy test results?

We receive a lot of questions regarding ‘meat’ in our customers’ test results.

Does this include all meat? What about fish? Or Poultry?

So today we’re clearing up the confusion with an article explaining exactly what we mean by ‘meat’ in your test results.

Scientific Reasoning

Since allergic reactions are almost exclusively caused by the proteins found in an allergen, and different meats share several common factors within their proteins, we test and report them as one single item. Because of these common factors, there is a lot of cross-reactivity across differing meats. For example, someone who reacts severely to chicken may also react to turkey, but to a lesser degree (or vice versa). Hence, it would be of little benefit to our customers if we analyzed these meats separately, rather than all together.

About Allergies

First, it’s important to remember that an allergy is (almost exclusively) a reaction to the proteins in a certain food [1]. These proteins are perceived as a threat by the body, and an allergic reaction occurs. Without the proteins, there would be nothing to react to.

This allergic reaction is known as an IgE-mediated response because the body creates IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies [2] to defend the body against this perceived threat.

An IgE mediated allergic reaction can cause a variety of symptoms. Most commonly;

  • Itchy, red, and watery eyes
  • Swollen mouth, lips, eyes, face, or throat
  • sneezing and a runny or blocked nose
  • Wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath
  • Itchy, red rash (may be raised)
  • Vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhoea
  • Anaphylaxis

Our Blood Sample Allergy Testing

At Lifelab Testing, we analyse all samples against a panel of commonly known allergens. In an allergic sample, we can observe a reaction against certain proteins from those allergens.

Since chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb are all mostly composed of muscle tissue, their composition is all very similar to each other. These meats all share common factors such as epitopes and enzymes, meaning that the reactions are all quite similar.


An epitope is a specific part of an antigen (the ‘invading bad guy’) that interacts with your antibodies [3]. Your antibodies will attach themselves to these epitopes in their attack against an allergen.


Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts. They significantly speed up the rate of pretty much all chemical reactions that take place within a cell. They’re vital to life and are used in various processes in the body, such as digestion and metabolism.

These similarities between proteins cause a lot of ‘cross-reactivity’ between different meats. Cross-reactivity, in this instance, means that an individual may find themselves allergic to two or more of the same things. So, for example, someone might react rather badly to beef and also react to pork, but to a lesser degree (or vice versa).

Because of these similarities between meats, and a heightened chance of cross-reactivity, we decided that it would be best for our Lifelab customers to have their samples tested against meat as a whole, rather than splitting up the analysis into different types of meat. There would be little benefit in splitting up meat into different categories if they are all likely to report similarly. This also leaves room in the test for other food items, allowing for a more diverse range of foods to analyse.

Make sure you get plenty of omega-3 into your body

Why doesn’t ‘Meat’ include fish?

We test for fish allergies separately because of how vastly different the proteins are from each other. In fact, you may notice that we test different types of fish separately. This is due to the difference in proteins between the species.

Final words

Reporting your results in this way makes the proceeding elimination diet simpler to follow and, from our experience, improves adherence to the elimination diet as well. All in all, it makes working towards a healthier, more tailored diet, easier and more straightforward.


[1] Nih.gov. (2017). Allergies: Overview. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK447112/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2020].

[2] Justiz, A.A. and Kamleshun Ramphul (2020). Immunoglobulin. [online] Nih.gov. Available at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513460/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020].

[3] Liang, T.C. (1998). Epitopes. Encyclopedia of Immunology, [online] pp.825–827. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B0122267656002292 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2020].

Gluten-Free Brownie Recipe

Living gluten-free doesn’t have to mean eating brownie-free and to prove it; we’ve got an easy gluten-free chocolate brownie recipe for you to sink your teeth into. These brownies should come out with a crinkly top, chewy edges and, of course, a deliciously gooey centre.

Gluten-Free Brownie Stats

Calories Per Serving – 515

  • Fat – 33g
  • Carbs – 45g
  • Sugar – 37g
  • Fibre – 4g
  • Protein – 7g
  • Preparation Time – 20 Minutes
  • Baking Time – 40 Minutes


  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 250g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed, (with extra for baking tray)
  • 150g milk chocolate, cut roughly into chunks
  • 100g gluten-free plain flour sieved
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt


  1. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180C/160C fan. Grease a 30 x 20cm non-stick baking tray with butter, and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Next, fill a small saucepan a third full with water, bring to a simmer and then place a snug-fitting heatproof bowl on top.
  3. Add the butter and chocolate to your saucepan, and gently melt over low heat. Remember to stir occasionally, and be careful not to let it burn to the bottom. Take it off the heat and leave to cool for a little while.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric whisk for around 8-10 mins (or until it’s thick enough to leave a trail).
  5. Gently fold through the vanilla and cooled melted chocolate, followed by the flour, salt, and cocoa. Lastly, fold through the chocolate chunks before pouring the batter into your lined tray.
  6. Then place the tray in the centre of your oven, and bake for 30-35 mins.
  7. Leave them to cool in the tin before cutting into 12 squares, ready to serve.