Nutrition Archives - Lifelab Testing

Low FODMAP Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes

Following a low FODMAP diet may seem very restricting and hard to follow, but it is even more restricting when you’re a vegetarian or vegan. That’s because when you cut out meat and meat byproducts, your diet will consist mostly of vegetables, fruits and grains, which are high in FODMAPs. Even though low FODMAP vegetarian and vegan recipes may be restrictive, they are suitable for balancing gut bacteria and keeping them healthy. Meat isn’t good for your gut, especially when suffering from SIBO or IBS. Considering it can be difficult to maintain a low FODMAP diet if you’re vegetarian or vegan, we’ve put together some great recipes for you to follow. These vegetarian low FODMAP recipes will help you figure out what to cook.

Low FODMAP vegetarian recipes

These vegetarian recipes help you stay consuming low FODMAP foods without meat. Some of these recipes have cheese, while others are completely plant-based.


Banana and oat pancakes topped with banana slices

Low FODMAP banana oat pancake recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 medium ripe bananas (with spots on them)
  • 2 ¼ cups unsweetened plant milk
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar
  • ½ TSP cinnamon powder
  • ¼ TSP vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add oats, banana, plant milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla into a blender and let it blend until smooth.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan on medium-low heat.
  3. Scoop the batter using ⅓ cup and pour the batter into the pan. Let the pancake cook until bubbles appear on the top, then check if the bottom has browned and flip the pancake. 
  4. Serve warm.

Cheese free frittata on a wooden platter

Low FODMAP cheese free frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 8 eggs
  • ¼ cup plant milk
  • Salt to taste
  • ⅛ TSP pepper
  • ¼ cup vegan cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions (white parts)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh spinach

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°C.
  2. In a huge bowl, beat eggs with plant milk, and add dill and dairy-free cheese.
  3. Add oil to a cast iron oven-safe skillet. Ensure you spread the oil along all the bottom edges of the pan.
  4. On medium heat, heat the pan and add tomatoes, green onions, and spinach and heat for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir to ensure it’s evenly mixed with the vegetables.
  6. Let the mixture cook until you see the edges begin to firm up. The middle part will still be very wet, and that’s okay.
  7. Transfer the skillet to the oven, letting it cook for 10 minutes. The frittata will cook and become spongy to the touch in the centre.
  8. Remove when cooked and sprinkle with chopped tomatoes.

Cucumber salad with tomatoes

Low FODMAP cucumber salad recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ TSP Dijon mustard
  • A handful of chopped dill and parsley
  • A handful of rocket finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 5 medium cucumbers chopped
  • 100g greek feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup pitted olives
  • ½ walnuts
  • ½ avocado
  • Finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame or hemp seeds

Method

  1. Whisk olive oil, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, and seasoning in a bowl. Add dill and parsley.
  2. Add the rocket, tomatoes, and cucumbers and combine well. Check for seasoning and adjust where needed.
  3. Only add avocado when eating, as it oxidises and turns black when it sits.

Low FODMAP vegan recipes

Following a vegan diet means avoiding all animal products and byproducts. These low-FODMAP vegan recipes will help you have meals that are filling and within your diet restrictions.


Pasta topped with coriander and red cabbage

Low FODMAP pasta recipe

Ingredients

  • 340g rice pasta boiled and drained
  • 115g red cabbage finely shredded
  • 85g snow peas
  • 30g kale (minus its rib)
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned or grated
  • ⅔ cup chopped scallions
  • ½ red bell pepper cut into thin slices without seeds

Dressing

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • Warm water
  • ½ TSP sugar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Method

  1. Mix peanut butter, water, sugar, and lime juice and whisk in a bowl. Add water to the desired consistency.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, snow peas, kale, carrot, scallions, bell pepper, and noodles.
  3. Pour the dressing over the mixed salad and noodles and combine until evenly coated. The salad is ready to serve. You can keep it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days.

Pasta with pumpkin and cheese

Low FODMAP pasta recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups FODMAP-friendly pasta, cooked
  • 2 medium freshly roasted red bell peppers or one jar of red bell pepper, drained
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 cup plant milk
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch or tapioca
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. If you don’t have a jar of bell pepper, preheat the oven to 450F. Line the baking sheet with aluminium foil and place the halved peppers cut side down. Roast for 25 minutes or until the skin is charred and wrinkled. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a while, then put it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit until cool to the touch. After they’re cool, remove the skin, discarding those so you can use the flesh in this recipe.
  2. Cook the pasta, drain, and toss with little olive oil, then set aside.
  3. Put the red peppers, nutritional yeast, basil, olive oil, milk, tapioca starch and pumpkin puree into a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the blended mixture over a pan and let it sit until it simmers. Once it simmers, occasionally stir until it thickens, then add pasta and toss mix. Here, you can season to taste.
  5. Serve warm with preferred garnishes.

Stir-fry vegetables in a pan

Low FODMAP stir fry

Ingredients

For sauce

  • 2 tbsp vegan oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy or tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red sherry
  • 1 tbsp sweetener (maple syrup or brown sugar)
  • White pepper

Slurry

  • 2 tbsp gluten-free cornflour or potato starch
  • 1 tbsp water

Stir fry

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • ½ bunch of green onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 broccoli head
  • 2 medium red capsicums
  • 30g ginger
  • 1 bunch of Chinese broccoli
  • 500g cubed tofu
  • 200g can of water chestnuts

Toppings

  • Sesame oil
  • Remaining spring onions
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Method

  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Chop all stir-fry ingredients and have them ready to go.
  3. Over medium-high heat, heat your wok with oil. Once the oil is hot, add half the green onions, and cook until bright green.
  4. Start adding vegetables, from the hard ones to ones that quickly cook. So, carrots go first, followed by broccoli, red capsicums, Chinese broccoli, tofu and water chestnuts.
complete-intolerance-front
Our Complete Intolerance Test Box.

The above low FODMAP vegetarian and vegan recipes will help you find better ways to follow your desired diet and still consume low FODMAP meals. To have full control of your health, however, we recommend taking an Intolerance Test to determine which foods cause you symptoms. With a complete intolerance test, you are eligible for a free 30-minute consultation with one of our specialist nutritional therapists who will help you to plan your diet. When you know your tolerance level to every FODMAP, you can easily customise your recipes to suit your needs and stay free from those uncomfortable symptoms.

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.

Choosing Low Glycemic Index Foods

If you suffer from an intolerance or allergy, it could limit your diet choices when you have to refrain from eating certain foods to avoid symptoms. For individuals living with type two diabetes or looking to lose weight, you may be wondering how to plan your diet around your allergies or intolerances while keeping sugar levels down. With this, you could benefit from referring to the food glycemic index. Within this guide, we will look into what the glycemic index is, including the difference between high and low glycemic index foods categorised by food groups.

What is a glycemic index?

The glycemic index (GI) is where foods are ranked on a scale of 1-100 based on how your blood sugar is impacted after eating a type of food. Foods are categorised into three glycemic index ratings:

  • Low: 55 or less.
  • Medium: 56–69.
  • High: 70 or above.

High GI foods are broken down and digested quickly so they cause rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. This typically means foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar have a high glycemic index. Therefore, choosing low glycemic foods could be useful when you are attempting to keep your blood sugar down.

How does the glycemic index help?

If you’re looking for ways to take control of sugar levels in what you consume, then looking at the glycemic index of foods could be beneficial, particularly for those with diabetes who struggle with maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.

It can also be helpful for individuals looking to lose weight, as blood sugar increases can encourage your body to store fat rather than burn it. It is important to note, however, that foods with low GI are not all necessarily healthy and not all high GI foods are unhealthy. Instead, low GI foods could help you feel fuller for longer since blood sugar levels rise and fall more slowly, thus allowing you to control your appetite more effectively.

Glycemic Index Chart

For people looking for the glycemic index score of different foods, we want to help by showing you the glycemic index of the most searched foods. We’ve split this information into tables separated by fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, grains/cereals/legumes, and sweeteners.

All glycemic index numbers are an average and will vary depending on factors such as different sized portions and different food types e.g. macaroni vs penne pasta. The glycemic index can also vary person to person, depending on how their body processes foods.

Fruits glycemic index

Although fruit is a healthy addition to any diet, fruit contains hidden sugars that occur naturally. There are some fruits with a lower glycemic index than others, which you can see below.

Food TypeGlycemic Index (on average)
Grapefruit Glycemic Index25
Apricot Glycemic Index34
Plum Glycemic Index35
Nectarine Glycemic Index35
Pears Glycemic Index38
Apple Glycemic Index40
Strawberries Glycemic Index41
Peach Glycemic Index42
Orange Glycemic Index42
Coconut Glycemic Index42
Grapes Glycemic Index46
Pomegranate Glycemic Index53
Blueberries Glycemic Index53
Banana Glycemic Index58
Watermelon Glycemic Index72
Melon Glycemic Index72

Glycemic index of vegetables

Below, you can see the glycemic index of some of the most commonly searched for vegetables.

Food TypeGlycemic Index (on average)
Broccoli Glycemic Index15
Green Beans Glycemic Index32
Carrots Glycemic Index (boiled)33
Butternut Squash Glycemic Index51
Sweetcorn Glycemic Index55
Beetroot Glycemic Index61
Sweet Potato Glycemic Index64
Swede Glycemic Index72
Potato Glycemic Index (boiled)78

Glycemic carbohydrates

When carbohydrates are eaten, the digestive system breaks them down into sugar which enters the bloodstream. Because of this, it’s important to look at the glycemic index of different carbohydrates.

Food TypeGlycemic Index (on average)
Glycemic Index Brown Rice50
Basmati Rice Glycemic Index50
Quinoa Glycemic Index53
Pasta Glycemic Index53
Sourdough Bread Glycemic Index54
Pizza Glycemic Index60 (when plain)
Couscous Glycemic Index60
Chapati Glycemic Index62
Rye Bread Glycemic Index65
Jasmine Rice Glycemic Index68
White Rice Glycemic Index72
Brown Bread Glycemic Index73
Rice Cake Glycemic Index82
White Bread Glycemic Index100

Glycemic index of sweeteners

For individuals with diabetes, it is important to regulate sugar levels, meaning many people  look to sugar alternatives so that blood glucose levels do not reach too high. Alternatives include sweeteners or natural sugars such as honey and dates.

Food TypeGlycemic Index (on average)
Stevia Glycemic Index0
Carob Syrup Glycemic Index15
Agave Syrup Glycemic Index17
Dark Chocolate Glycemic Index23
Fructose Glycemic Index25
Date Glycemic Index42
Milk Chocolate Glycemic Index42
Maple Syrup Glycemic Index54
Manuka Honey Glycemic Index57
Honey Glycemic Index58
Sucralose Glycemic Index65
Sugar Glycemic Index65
Glucose Glycemic Index100

Glycemic index of grains, cereals and legumes

Food TypeGlycemic Index (on average)
Kidney Beans Glycemic Index24
Barley Glycemic Index28
Pearl Barley Glycemic Index28
Gram Flour Glycemic Index29
Black Beans Glycemic Index30
Glycemic Index Of Beans33
Buckwheat Glycemic Index34
Steel Cut Oats Glycemic Index42
Bulgur Wheat Glycemic Index46
Corn Glycemic Index52
Oats Glycemic Index55
Bran Flakes Glycemic Index55
Shredded Wheat Glycemic Index67

Managing diabetes with allergies

The first thing to consider when adapting your diet is whether you’re sure which allergy or intolerance is causing your symptoms. You can discover this through taking a Complete Body Test which analyses your blood sample against 38 allergies and 79 intolerances. Once you have your results, you can tailor your diet to ensure you are eating healthily and avoiding foods that cause symptoms. With this complete test, you are also entitled to a free 30 minute consultation with a nutritional therapist, who can help you to form an optimal diet.

If you’d like further information on how to manage your allergy or intolerance in addition to taking control of sugar levels, you can speak to a member of our team for advice on testing.

The FODMAP Diet Explained

Do you suffer from digestive issues after eating certain foods but you’re unsure of the cause? You may benefit from learning more about FODMAPs. Within this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what ‘FODMAP’ is, and how to target this issue through changes to your diet.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates known as short-chain carbohydrates. For certain individuals, the consumption of these carbohydrates can lead to a variety of painful symptoms, including bloating, distended abdomen, flatulence, cramps, diarrhoea and constipation. FODMAPs are known to exacerbate a number of common digestive disorders.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and polyols. In certain individuals, the short-chain carbohydrates, or FODMAP foods, are poorly digested in the small intestine. The undigested food particles travel to the large intestine, where the gut bacteria begin the process of fermentation. In this process, water is drawn into the large intestine and carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane are produced. It is the production of these gases, which results in uncomfortable symptoms.

Meaning of FODMAP

FODMAP is an acronym which includes four main groups of carbohydrates, or saccharides(sugars). The acronym FODMAP is explained below:

  • Fermentable – can be fermented by bacteria in the large intestine.
  • Oligosaccharides – ‘oligo’ means few, sugar molecules in a chain.
  • Disaccharides – ‘di’ means two, a double sugar molecule.
  • Monosaccharides – ‘mono’ means one, a single sugar molecule.
  • Polyols – sugar alcohols.

High FODMAP foods

The number of fructans, galactans, lactose, fructose, sorbitol or mannitol in a food item will vary from one to the next. For example, apples would be classed as a high FODMAP fruit, whereas strawberries would be classed as a low FODMAP food.These certain foods that are higher in FODMAPs should be taken into account when engaging in a low FODMAP diet. You should also consider how your body may be able to tolerate high FODMAP foods in small quantities, but a large portion will produce a high FODMAP load.

These high FODMAP foods include:

  • Vegetables: garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, artichoke, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mushrooms.
  • Fruits: apple, pear, mango, peach, cherry, dried fruit, plum, blackberries, watermelon.
  • Dairy: products containing lactose such as cow’s milk, ice cream, yoghurt.
  • Grains and cereals: wheat/barley/rye based breads, wheat pasta, muesli.
  • Legumes and pulses: Red kidney beans, baked beans, almonds, black beans.
  • Sugars and sweeteners: high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, malt extract.
  • Nuts and seeds: cashew nuts, pistachios.

Low FODMAP foods

If you are suffering from symptoms when consuming high FODMAP foods, it is recommended that you undertake a low FODMAP diet for a period of time to see if this eases your symptoms. You will be able to determine if your body struggles to digest highFODMAP foods once they are removed from your diet. A list of low FODMAP food includes:

  • Vegetables: aubergine, bok choy, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber.
  • Fruits: orange, kiwi, mandarin, pineapple.
  • Dairy: lactose-free milk, hard cheeses, feta cheese. Grains and cereals:quinoa, brown rice, wheat/rye/barley free breads.
  • Legumes and pulses: protein substitutes such as tofu, tempeh, eggs.
  • Sugars and sweeteners: table sugar, maple syrup, dark chocolate.
  • Nuts and seeds: other nuts and seeds are suitable to eat.

Low FODMAP diet

If you experience uncomfortable symptoms when eating high FODMAP foods, it is recommended that you engage in a low FODMAP diet. This diet has been shown to improve people’s symptoms of IBS. A low FODMAP diet involves restriction, reintroduction and personalisation.

Restriction

Firstly, you will follow a low FODMAP diet, removing highly rated items from your diet. You may want to discuss with your doctor or dietician how this can be achieved to ensure you are still maintaining a healthy diet. Your restricted diet should not prevent you from getting the right nutrients, so you should consider substitutes once you remove an item. This elimination diet will take place for 6-8 weeks to see if your symptoms subside.

FODMAP reintroduction

If you choose to engage in a low FODMAP diet, this does not mean that you will never be able to eat high FODMAP foods again. It is thought that once your body has got used to digesting just low FODMAP foods, you can begin to slowly reintroduce each of the highFODMAP items while monitoring your symptoms. Through doing this, you will be able to determine which food items you can tolerate or not.

Personalisation

Some people will experience symptoms after consuming certain FODMAP foods but not others. It is trial and error to discover which items your body can tolerate or not. From this, you can create a diet that is tailored to your needs where you are still getting the correct amount of nutrients and are no longer suffering from digestive issues.

FODMAP and Food Intolerance

Individuals who are sensitive or intolerant to FODMAP foods are not necessarily intolerant to all of them. It is a case of understanding those that cause discomfort and symptoms through a process of elimination.

This process can be accelerated with the use of an intolerance test, which will analyse your blood sample against 159 key allergens. Complete your intolerance test at home and sendoff your sample to our dedicated laboratory where it will be analysed and your results sent back to you. From this test, you will have an indication of which foods to remove in your elimination diet. If you order a complete test, you are also entitled to a free 30 minute consultation with one of our nutritional therapists. Together, you can plan any lifestyle changes based on your results.

It is important to note that being intolerant or sensitive to certain FODMAP foods may or may not coexist alongside IgG4 intolerance, and this is a highly individual matter. If you do decide to consult our Lifelab Testing nutrition team on your results, FODMAP foods may be an area we discuss with you. FODMAP foods can exacerbate the symptoms of a food intolerance, so it is important to consider them in your elimination journey. If you’d like to order an allergy or intolerance test but are unsure which to choose, get in touch with our helpful customer service team or try our simple test chooser tool.

What are the Most Common Nutritional Deficiencies?

Nutritional deficiencies can cause all kinds of trouble within our bodies. From fatigue and brain fog to more sinister effects like jaundice, osteoporosis and infertility. We all know the importance of a balanced diet, but there are still several nutrients that we are commonly found to be deficient in.

Here are a few of the most common nutritional deficiencies and how you can prevent a deficiency;

Iron

Iron is a vital mineral in order for your body to produce fresh red blood cells. It makes up a large part of those oxygen transporters and is important for our health. As blood is how all of our cells receive the nutrients they need, it’s key that our body can adequately produce blood cells to get those nutrients sent around.

The world health organisation (WHO) has said that iron deficiency is highly common [2] and highlighted it as an important nutrient we should aim to consume more of. They also back the fortification of grains with iron. The 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans [1] stated that a large number of fertile women are at risk of iron deficiency anaemia, due to insufficient iron in their diet. Affecting more than 25% of the worldwide population, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies around [3].

There are two types of dietary iron; Heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body – it has better bioavailability – meaning you don’t have to consume nearly as much of it to reach your required intake. Heme iron is found only in animal products – red meat is especially high in this mineral. Non-heme iron isn’t as readily absorbed into the blood. Non-heme iron is more common, found in both animal and plant foods.

Iodine

Iodine is especially important for normal thyroid function and regulating your metabolism. Our thyroid hormones are vital to other bodily processes such as growth, bone maintenance and brain development. So, it’s particularly important for children and adolescents.

Severe iodine deficiency can result in developmental abnormalities and may even cause mental retardation. But the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, which can cause weight gain, shortness of breath and a faster heart rate.

Unfortunately, nearly a third of the world is still deficient in iodine [4], in both industrialised and developing nations [5]. Experts have recommended widespread iodised table salt to help combat this.

Calcium

Calcium is another nutrient needed for every cell in the body. It’s vital during times of rapid growth (looking at you, puberty) and is also important for bone health. If your blood becomes lacking in calcium, your bones will release some into the blood, which is why low levels of calcium in the diet can eventually cause brittle bone disease (osteoporosis).

A united states survey found that less than 22% of teenage boys and men over 50 met the recommended calcium intake [9]. With fewer than 15% of teenaged girls and under 10% of women over 50 meeting this recommendation too [9]. That equates to an estimation of over 80% of teenagers and people over 50 consuming less than the recommended intake of calcium on a regular basis.

You can increase your calcium intake by consuming boned fish, dairy products and dark green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach. Supplementation has come under some heavy debate recently, so we are reluctant to recommend this approach.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is used to inform your body’s gene expression and maintain bone health. It’s produced in your skin upon exposure to sunlight, meaning those who live further from the equator a likely to be at risk of deficiency without supplementation.

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common condition with an estimated 74% of UK adults (25 Years or older) having levels below the optimum level for wellbeing. This is more concerning than you might at first expect, as chronic deficiency could lead to adverse health consequences – increasing the risk of many diseases from cancer to diabetes to heart disease [7].

It’s not all bad news though. Research indicates that supplementing vitamin D if you don’t get adequate sun exposure may be beneficial in maintaining optimal blood levels of this essential vitamin [6].

Vitamin B12

Every single cell in your body needs vitamin B12 to function properly. Yet, your body is unable to produce it on its own and the nutrient must be ingested via food or supplements. It is only found in large quantities in animal products – but seaweed may have small amounts of B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a condition known as megaloblastic anaemia – a blood disorder that enlarges the red blood cells. Because the body cannot produce this vitamin and it is only available in mostly animal products, risk of deficiency is high. Absorption of the vitamin decreases with age making the elderly especially vulnerable to deficiency.

Because vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products, vegans and vegetarians should take extra care in ensuring they consume enough vitamin B12. Studies indicate that vegans who do not ingest vitamin B12 supplements are at an especially high risk of becoming deficient [8]. Some researchers have argued that all vegetarians and vegans should be monitored for vitamin B12 deficiency as a precautionary measure [8].

Testing Could Identify Deficiencies

While food deficiencies are something to be wary of – especially if you’re having to cut certain foods out of your diet – it doesn’t have to be something to worry over. There are various tests that can be done to determine whether your body is getting enough of each nutrient. One of these tests is the MyDNA test from MyDNA.

This test analyses your sample to determine what diet is best for your body and least likely to result in any deficiency. If you’re concerned about whether you’re following the optimal diet for your biology, and whether you’re getting enough nutrients, the MyDNA test could lend you a helping hand.

References

[1] https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf

[2] https://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/anaemia_iron_deficiency/ 9789241596107/en/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18498676

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892867

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23472655

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12520530

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400738

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24667752

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20181782/

Is Meat Bad For You?

In 2006 an estimated 150,000 vegans were living in the United Kingdom. According to a survey by the Vegan Society, this number has now risen to 600,000. Combine this growth with the popularity of the “Veganuary” trend, and you can see a movement towards meat-free alternatives. For many, the global climate crisis has inspired the change. Research increasingly points to the meat industry as a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. But, for many, becoming vegan (or indeed vegetarian) has been inspired by a perceived health benefit.

food intolerance blood testing

Netflix documentaries, social media influencers, and prominent nutritionists have lined up to extol the virtues of a switch to a plant-based lifestyle. There has been a backlash in some circles as carnivores claim that millennia of meat-eating has done us no harm thus far, so why change a winning formula. But who is right? Is meat bad for you, or is it an essential part of a complete diet?

The Anti-Meat Argument

The most common argument against eating meat is its classification as a carcinogen. This is believed to be due to the lack of fibre in meat as well as the presence of carcinogenic compounds which form during the process of cooking. Advocates also point to the high cholesterol content of meat which has been shown to be linked to heart attacks, strokes & diabetes. Another thing plant-based lifestyle proponents say backs up their case is the presence of hormones in the majority of meat. The hormones are injected into the animals to maximise the amount of meat you get from them. These hormones are then passed onto the consumer, where they can have a negative impact on hormonal balance.

The Pro-Meat Argument

Team Meat will point to a study by a 14 member international team. This study found that there was no certainty to the links between meat consumption and chronic disease. The study claimed that all data up to this point had, in fact, been inconclusive. Meat-eating proponents will also point to studies which show that many plants eaten by vegans and vegetarians have a higher hormone content than most meats. In response to the criticism of the meat industry’s contribution to climate change, advocates will say that it is far down the list of concerns and that, in advanced countries, it’s contribution to greenhouse emissions is as low as 3% (United States) of the total emissions.

chicken food intolerance blood testing

Considerations To Make When Choosing Meat Or No Meat?

With arguments on both sides of the divide, it appears as though the current evidence is inconclusive either way. But on an individual level, it is essential to consider your own reaction to eating meat. This is where a food intolerance blood test can be crucial. A food intolerance blood test can help you identify whether or not you have an intolerance to any meats which can cause symptoms including diarrhoea, fatigue and vomiting. You can find a food intolerance blood test to help you determine your sensitivity to meat here.

3 Essential Vitamins & Where To Find Them

Vitamins. You know they’re good for you, apparently. But to many, they’re kind of an abstract concept. You know you have a recommended amount you should get of them; you know they do something for your body but, beyond that, you’ve never really given it much thought. You’re not alone. The majority of people have no idea what each vitamin does or what foods you need to eat to get your recommended daily intake.

Here we take a look at three essential vitamins, what they do to support your body, the foods you should be eating to help feel their benefits and why food intolerance testing is vital to doing it right.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also known as retinol. There is a wide range of benefits to maintaining a healthy level of Vitamin A:

Strengthened Immune System – Your immune system is your body’s defence against viruses and infection. Vitamin A helps bolster this vital tool.

Vision In Poor Lighting – Vitamin A supports your ability to see at night or in poorly lit environments.

Skin Health – Stimulates the production of new skin cells to help keep skin looking young.

Vitamin A Food Sources

Cheese is packed with Vitamin A

Cheese, eggs, oily fish, low fat spread, milk, yoghurt, liver.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another essential vitamin and deficiency can lead to a condition called scurvy. Benefits from Vitamin C include:

Protects Cells – As an antioxidant agent it helps protect cells both inside and out

Bone & Cartilage Health – Research has found a link between Vitamin C and reduced bone loss

Wound Healing – Involved in the synthesis of collagen, studies have found a link with improved wound healing

Vitamin C Food Sources

Oranges, Red & Green Peppers, Strawberries, Blackcurrants, Potatoes, Broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in winter. Known as the sunlight vitamin, it is crucial to find dietary Vitamin D to supplement the reduced sunlight in winter. Vitamin D confers several benefits:

Muscle Strength – Researchers have found a correlation between high Vitamin D levels and increased strength.

weights food intolerance testing
Studies show a correlation between Vitamin D & strength

Lung Function – Low Vitamin D levels has been shown to cause increased risk of lung diseases.

Brain Function – Vitamin D supports neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth.

Vitamin D Food Sources

Fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified foods.

Food Intolerance Testing

When you’re looking to introduce new foods into your diet, it is essential to consider food intolerance testing. In your efforts to improve your vitamin levels, don’t expose yourself to food intolerance symptoms including fatigue, bloating and nausea. Find food intolerance testing to suit your budget here.

5 foods to avoid when going gluten free

It can feel a bit daunting to embark on the adventure that is a gluten-free diet. Once you start paying attention you realise just how common it is and how much gluten we consume in a typical western diet. It’s not all bad news though. If you follow a few simple rules and take on a more wholefoods-oriented diet, you’ll soon be wondering how you ever ate any different. Here are a few foods you should be avoiding if you’ve discovered you have a gluten intolerance;

Avoid these if you have Gluten Intolerance

The majority of baked goods

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a gluten-free diet. Most traditional baked goods contain gluten to some degree due to the flours used in baking them. Your best bet is to avoid baked goods entirely, from bread to cookies to cakes. This is a blessing in disguise really, as you’ll be avoiding a lot of sugary and fattening foods by doing this, steering you towards healthier options.

Cereals

A lot of cereals have wheat or oats as primary ingredients in them, so unless you know a specific brand that’s gluten-free (and not replacing those ingredients with other, equally damaging items) you’re better off avoiding cereals or risk triggering your gluten intolerance. A good alternative is to make your own granola from gluten-free oats. That way you can fully control what goes into your morning gruel.

Wheat-based Pasta

What-based pasta becomes a no-no on a gluten free diet too. You can seek out gluten-free alternatives, but we recommend having rice or potatoes as your starch of choice to make things easier and be certain you’re free from gluten (in case of any nasty product recalls!).

Pre-packaged Convenience Foods

This one can be tough on many of us. But completely eliminating pre-packaged snacks from your diet will not only help you avoid gluten, but I will also force you to shift your eating habits to healthier, wholefoods. Having less processed junk in your system will have you Feeling like a spring chicken.

Most of the Gluten-Free Aisle

Speaking of processed foods, ignore the ‘free from foods’ aisle like the plague. The vast majority of those snacks and staples are rampant with highly processed ingredients. It’s the only way they manage to mimic their gluten-inclusive cousins. Most snacks that disguise themselves as ‘healthy’ in those aisles are jam-packed with sugar or nutritionally bankrupt carbohydrates.

Whether you’re avoiding gluten due to coeliac disease, a gluten intolerance, or just because, it’s not nearly as challenging as it may first seem. In fact, the hardest part is probably the social pressure that often comes with any change in diet. If you di suspect a food intolerance though, it might not be caused by gluten, and you’ll be able to deal with the intolerance much sooner if you undertake a scientifically backed intolerance test.

Keto Diet: Fantastic or Fadtastic?

Fad diets. They come and go. Here for a good time, not for a long time.

Atkins, Cabbage Soup, Paleo, Baby Food, Dukan. They all shone brightly in celebrity circles before making way for the next big craze. They often require extreme behaviours such as excessive calorie restriction, skipping whole foods for liquids and limiting yourself to just one food. In the quest for weight-loss, people will ignore the obvious flaws in diets, hoping beyond sensibility that this is the diet that will get that fat off and, most importantly, stay off.

Keto – High Fat, Moderate Protein, LOW Carb.

But the reality is that when the extremity becomes too much people will fall back into their previous ways, eating all the foods that made them diet in the first place. The difference often being, now they have a damaged metabolic rate. Their body has become accustomed to lower caloric intake and, therefore, burns less calories than it did pre-diet. The result? All that weight you lost? It comes back. With interest.

So, with a host of celebrities now aboard the Keto bandwagon, are we looking at the latest fad diet? Or have we finally found the one diet to rule them all?

What is the Keto Diet?

Put simply(ish) the keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein and ultra-low-carb diet. It prioritises fats to force your body into a state of ketosis (where your body uses ketones for fuel instead of fat). This is said to be an optimal state for burning body fat as it will draw from body fat supplies when it is in short supply of dietary fat.

How easy is the Keto Diet?

Again put simply(ish), not very. Getting into ketosis can be incredibly challenging due to the fact it requires an incredibly high-fat consumption as well as a fairly low protein and VERY low carb consumption. It can take a while to deplete your glycogen (stored carbs) reserves fully and then prevent your body from replenishing them. To truly live on the keto diet requires constant monitoring using either ketone urine strips (questionable accuracy) or blood ketone testing (expensive).

Blood testing is the most accurate way to measure ketones

Does the Keto Diet work?

The million-pound question and, unsurprisingly, the answer isn’t straightforward. Some speculate that carbohydrates are essential to physical performance and that athletes should not consider a low-carb diet as it will adversely affect performance. There are studies which show efficacy for body recomposition and fat loss, but the research is still in its infancy.

Potential Keto Diet complications

Something to consider when you look to move onto a ketogenic diet is intolerance testing. When you introduce a lot of new foods to your diet, you’re potentially exposing yourself to symptoms of food intolerance that could significantly outweigh the positive impact of your keto diet. Intolerance testing will help you identify foods that could cause bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and many other symptoms. We have a range of intolerance testing to suit all budgets that you should look at before you start your keto diet.

Nutrichondria: the new health epidemic

As food allergies are becoming more common, there is concern that the data on just how common they are may be skewed due to a new phenomenon; “nutrichondria”. You may have never heard of this new health epidemic. But you’ve likely noticed the wave of individuals self-diagnosing a food intolerance or allergy, despite any scientifically concrete evidence.

A recent DNAFit study defined nutrichondria as “a preoccupation with negative details of one’s diet and a propensity to self-diagnose food intolerances or allergies based on supposition or flawed evidence”.

Why is this a problem? There are various issues with this recent phenomenon, and it can have detrimental effects on one’s health. Here’s how; 

Misdiagnosis of a Food Intolerance or Allergy

Firstly, there’s a huge chance that any self-diagnosis will be a misdiagnosis. This can be just as dangerous as no diagnosis at all, as you may be attributing certain symptoms with the completely wrong food. You’ll then avoid one item while still risking exposure to the true allergen – making you no better off and far more likely to experience adverse reactions than if you had taken a food allergies test, to begin with.

Nutrient deficiency

Whenever food is restricted from the diet, it’s important that you ensure you aren’t allowing yourself to become deficient in the nutrients available in that which you’ve eliminated from your diet. Be sure to replace those micronutrients in your diet to avoid any deficiencies, as vitamin deficiency can bring about all manner of new issues.

Could be a completely different issue

It’s possible that you’ll end up self-diagnosing something as a food allergy or intolerance when, in reality, the issue is something more sinister. Many conditions and diseases all present themselves in similar ways, and it takes a trained physician to understand the subtle differences between them all. An incorrect self-diagnosis could become very dangerous if you end up accidentally ignoring something more malignant.

Don’t self-diagnose

Just like you wouldn’t diagnose yourself with cancer or a mental illness, you shouldn’t self-diagnose a food intolerance or allergy. It’s far safer to get tested if you suspect a food intolerance or allergy, even if it’s just to eliminate them both as a possible cause of your symptoms – you’ll be much better off in the long run.