Edinburgh health centre offers lab testing for food intolerances

Healthy life centre in Edinburgh
Healthy life centre in Edinburgh
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Worried about food intolerances? A test and consultation can help you stay healthy finds writer Martin Gray.

The treatment

A 60-minute food intolerance session with nutritional therapist Rossella Riccobono, £20, at the Healthy Life Centre, Edinburgh (final cost dependent on lab testing, from £111.60). Follow-up one hour food replacement plan appointment, £40.

Why go?

We are what we eat, they say, and while it’s not entirely true – genetics being rather important – what we put into our bodies does make a big impact. I’ve been suspecting a corn syrups intolerance is behind bouts of acid reflux leading to constant coughing and sleepless nights.

Our spy says

On being shown into Rossella’s consulting rooms I’m offered lemon and ginger tea, good for digestion. Rossella explains that there could be underlying reasons for my problem, such as an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. I tell her that over the years I’ve noticed that when I have periods of bad hyperacidity, it’s when I’ve been eating processed foods with ingredients such as maltodextrin, Dextrose – basically, corn syrups and similar. I know my hyperacidity is more than an inconvenience, having been diagnosed with Barrett’s Oesophagus – that’s when chronic acid reflux damages said food pipe, necessitating regular endoscopies (a treat!) to watch for cells turning cancerous.

Rossella takes down the rest of my medical history, which includes gall bladder removal, something she tells me results in my being less able to digest fat and sugar. It’s all starting to make sense. She suggests a three-point plan: resolve the acid reflux problem; see if there’s an imbalance in the gut; do a liver detox – replace bad fats with good fats eg olive oil and fish oil.

Before that, Rossella – who can also help with migraines, anxiety, weight and more – recommends a £111.60 base test to check my tolerance to 40 allergens. That should reveal whether corn is indeed my nemesis. Blood is taken from a finger quickly and painlessly, sent to a specialist lab and a couple of weeks later, Rossella emails the findings. The categories are Normal, Borderline and Elevated, with a score out of 100 as a pointer to how well my metabolism likes something. And there you have it, straight into the red area with a score of 46, corn. Beating it, though, with 73, is brewer’s yeast, which chimes with me – I’ve avoided alcohol all my adult life, so severe and speedy is my reaction to it. But egg white at 72? Cow’s milk at 58? Also highlighted are wheat, barley and rice, while I am given the all clear to consume the likes of kidney beans, cod and cabbage.

Our spy says

Obviously, don’t make major dietary changes without consulting your GP, but as a guide, the results – which come with all kinds of helpful information – were fascinating. Further appointments with Rossella would help me put the information to best use. Already, though, I’m feeling better, as I try harder to avoid the red zone foods. n

The Healthy Life Centre (35-37 Bread Street, Edinburgh, 0131-229 0724, www.healthylifecentreedinburgh.com)

Martin Gray