4 Must-Read Books for Better Health + Nutrition

4 Must-Read Books for Better Health + Nutrition

The main point I want to make with this article is that the vast majority of the information in these books should be common knowledge.

I can’t stress that enough.

It horrifies me to think that this incredibly valuable information is out there, pretty much for free, and yet some people are never exposed to it.

Here are 4 must-read books to help you improve your health + nutrition.

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CNS Food Print 200+: My Food Intolerance Testing Experience 2.0

CNS-Food-Print-200-Intolerance-Test-Review

The Most Advanced + Comprehensive Food Intolerance Test from CNS

I make no secret of my fascination for health monitoring, and that includes food intolerance testing. It’s also no secret that I was a left a little confused and dissatisfied by my first food intolerance testing experience.

After a little (a lot, actually) of research, I discovered the FoodPrint® 200+ test from Cambridge Nutritional Sciences.*

The test is incredibly comprehensive, testing for reactions to over 200 ingredients. One of the reasons that I chose this test was the inclusion of four types of milk (cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo) and the independent proteins within the milk: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin (whey proteins) and casein.

If you’ve read my posts on my food intolerance journey so far, you’ll know of my distress when it came to compromising my whey protein intake, and why having this breakdown is so important to me!

CNS offer a range of other FoodPrint® tests including an indicator test, FoodPrint® 40, FoodPrint® 60, FoodPrint® 120, FoodPrint® Vegetarian, FoodPrint® Vegan and FoodPrint® Herbs & Spices.

The FoodPrint Testing Process

After receiving your test pack, it’s simply a case of using the lancets provided to prick your finger and take a very small blood sample before returning the pack in the pre-paid envelope.

Your results report and guidebook arrive with you via email very quickly. The quality and comprehensiveness of both of these is brilliant, so I’ll go into a little more detail below.

Interestingly, CNS also offer a Food Detective self-test, which, although a little less comprehensive, will provide you with immediate results. The short video on the website showing how this is carried out is definitely worth a watch!

CNS-Food-Print-Review-Food-Intolerance-Test

The FoodPrint® 200+ Report

I love the report format provided by CNS. In fact, there are two different formats within the test report that you receive.

As well as listing the tested foods by order of reactivity (as was done in my YorkTest results), foods are also listed according to their respective food groups.

This really helped to put into perspective where my greatest problem areas are, and to help me to quickly identify alternative foods.

As well as a traffic light colour coding system for the ingredients tested, CNS provide the numerical values of the antibody levels detected in the test. This is something that is hugely important and was completely neglected by YorkTest.

The higher the assigned value, the stronger your body’s immune response to that particular food. Elevated results are over 30 U/ml, borderline is 24-29 U/ml, and anything under 23 U/ml is considered normal.

Knowing this really helps to put your results into perspective. By seeing that my reaction to cow’s milk was 117 U/ml, for example, it was immediately clear that my priority was to remove that from my diet before anything else.

Especially when dealing with a high number of reactions as I am, knowing that some are vastly stronger than others helps you to focus your attention on the foods that will have a bigger impact, and know which you can afford to treat with a little less caution in order to make the process manageable.

This is a concept that was reinforced by CNS’ nutritionist, Nicky, who was keen to speak to me over the phone following my results. It was great to speak to someone so mindful of the differences between individuals and how to make results seem manageable.

The guidebook provided by CNS also suggests that when reintroducing foods after carrying out an elimination diet, the numerical values good to refer to as reintroducing the least reactive foods first is a good idea.

This kind of guidance is something that I felt was neglected a little with the YorkTest FoodScan that I did. While YorkTest are definitely stronger on their branding, sending out both the test kit and the results in well-presented packages, I’ve come to realise that they lack some attention to detail where it matters.

CNS-Food-Print-Intolerance-Results

My FoodPrint® 200+ Results

Suffice to say, I have a lot of elevated results. But, recognising how overwhelming this can seem, one of the first things that CNS Nutritionist Nicky said to me was this:

“Stress in itself can be worse than eating the food that you’re intolerant to”

If you’ve read my post Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You, you’ll understand why this was music to my ears.

She also reiterated that, as with any test, these results are not concrete and definitive. However, they definitely give a brilliant starting point for improving my diet. The sheer volume of elevated values that I have could indicate leaky gut, and so as well as removing trigger foods, I would benefit from working with a nutritionist to speak further about digestive support.

Dairy + Eggs

As with my previous results, dairy and eggs showed a definitely reaction. My milk reaction was especially high given that I’ve almost entirely cut out dairy from my diet, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m doing the right thing by steering clear.

Of course, my biggest relief was to see that my reaction to whey proteins (alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin) were normal. Hooray! While Nicky would generally recommend avoiding whey for the 3-month elimination period when all other dairy results are highly elevated as mine are, she advised that for my lifestyle, the benefits of taking whey most likely outweighs this concern.

So, I’ll be sticking to high-quality whey isolate supplements, and I’ll continue to search for some good vegan protein supplements to ensure that I get variety, too.

Gluten-Containing Grains

As anticipated, my scores for gluten-containing grains are elevated. As with dairy, I already avoid gluten because of the symptoms that I get when consuming food such as bread, so I’ll continue to do this.

Generally, I opt for rice, corn or potato in place of gluten-containing grains. This was reflected in the slightly raised levels on the tests for these foods, so I will look into getting more variety by trying things like buckwheat and millet.

Yeast

Yet again, this was a high reaction for me. I really struggled to cut out yeast before, but the guidebook provided by CNS contains a whole section on yeast, including which foods to avoid, ingredients to avoid and alternative foods.

The list includes the obvious, such as bread, yeast extract and fermented food and drink including alcohol. Of course, dried fruits are on the list too, which I feel I may struggle with as they make a great alternative to processed sweeteners like sugar when satisfying a sweet tooth or choosing a snack bar. The list also includes less obvious products such as hydrolysed protein and Quorn, which require yeast to be used as part of their processing.

My Verdict + Next Steps

I’d love to find a great nutritionist who can advise me a little more going forward. I pride myself on the knowledge that I have on nutrition, and certainly by normal standards my diet is really healthy. However, I’m at the point now where I really need to refine it further and enlist someone who can take some of the hard work off my hands!

It would be great to find an experienced nutritionist who can guide me with a tailored food and supplement plan, taking a holistic approach that also considers my lifestyle and training goals alongside medical history, too. I welcome all recommendations!

Overall, I’ll be aiming for moderation and variety in my diet. Unsurprisingly, (and perhaps a little boringly!) that’s what it always comes down to.* Whether you suffer with food intolerances or want to prevent them, this is undoubtedly the way forward*.

I highly recommend the CNS FoodPrint 200+ test. I always strive for the best quality and to gather as much information as possible, and this test has definitely ticked those boxes for me. The large number of proteins that were tested for, the way the results were reported, and the advice that I received from CNS was exactly what I hoped for, and more!

The test costs £291.00, which is definitely a bit of an investment, but an investment in the best possible thing; your health.

Have you had any experience of food intolerance testing or dealing with an elimination diet protocol?

YorkTest Food Intolerance Test Review - My Results

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Eliminate the Guess Work with a YorkTest Food&DrinkScan

As I mentioned in my Food Intolerance Test Guide, which looked at gut health, as well as symptoms and types of food intolerance, having an inflammatory reaction to foods can massively affect your wellbeing. As I’m always determined to better my body, I took the comprehensive Food&DrinkScan from YorkTest* to learn about my unique ‘food fingerprint’ so that I can tailor my diet for optimal health and fitness.

While a standard elimination diet could help me identify food intolerances, they take a lot of time and effort, and are very difficult to conduct, with some symptoms taking hours or days to present themselves. YorkTest have banished the guess-work by providing me with a specific list of foods to which my body is reactive, so that I have the perfect starting place for improving my diet.

Food Intolerance Testing with YorkTest

I chose to take a FoodScan with YorkTest because I was familiar with the brand and new that they were well-established.

"YorkTest Laboratories have over 30 years of excellence in laboratory diagnostic testing, and are Europe’s leading provider of food and drink specific IgG antibody testing programmes.

When deciding to test for food intolerance, York Test offer several options. You could start with the ‘First Step’ test which provides a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ indicator of whether you have a food intolerance. Should you receive ‘yes’, you can follow up with a full test programme.

The comprehensive tests are the FoodScan, which tests reactions to 113 foods, and the Food&DrinkScan, which tests reactions to 158 foods and drinks.

However, with a money-back promise if no reactions are identified, I would recommend launching straight in with a full test programme to fast-track yourself to better health with a little less hassle.

York-Test-Food-Intolerance-Testing-Kit

The FoodScan Testing Process

After ordering and receiving your test pack, all that is required of you is a finger prick (to draw a tiny amount of blood to sample) and return of the pack in the pre-paid envelope. It’s a very quick and simple process.

Once it reaches YorkTest laboratories, experts carry out an enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) test for food-specific IgG antibodies.

The reactions are then clearly, visually indicated on a report, which is sent to you very quickly, and followed up with a call from a nutritionist, to answer your questions and advise you on your next steps.

My Food Intolerance Test Results

After doing my part of the testing (I detailed the Food Intolerance Test Process in my guide), my results arrived back with me within a few days. I was so excited to see them, but they weren’t quite what I was expecting.

The accompanying letter stated that I had a high number (25) of reactions and borderline reaction ingredients that were tested for.

Some foods I already suspected that I was intolerant to or had an unexplained dislike for, but others came as a complete surprise.

Essentially, the protocol from here is to eliminate the foods that I am reactive to, and eliminate or reduce my consumption of borderline foods (which may or may not elicit a reaction).

All of my reactions can be seen in the images within this post, but especially after talking to Sarah, the YorkTest nutritionist, there are some results that are worth mentioning in a little further detail...

Food-Intolerance-Test-Results

Egg

I showed a reaction to both egg white and egg yolk. I’m not very fond of eggs and only recently learnt to like them when scrambled (I was determined, as they’re such a nutritious food!) so I thought this wouldn’t bother me too much. However, I realise I consume quite a few other foods that contain egg as a hidden ingredient, from pancakes to meatballs. If you can recommend an alternative binding agent for recipes like this, please let me know!

Cow’s Milk

With cow’s milk, the first thing that is important to point out is that this is not an indication of lactose intolerance (as outlined in my Food Intolerance Test Guide post).

The IgG antibodies used in this kind of intolerance testing can only bind with proteins. Therefore, my reaction to cow’s milk is in fact indicating an intolerance to whey and/or casein. Unfortunately the test does not differentiate between the two.

As I consume a lot of protein shakes (predominantly whey) to supplement my high protein intake, this will make a huge impact on my diet (read: at times, thinking about this intolerance result makes me want to jump off a cliff).

I wish that the the scan tested for whey and casein separately because I could easily consume one or the other in isolation if need be.

Screening for whey and casein reactions separately would make this test infinitely more valuable, and I’d love to see YorkTest introduce this kind of testing to reflect the growing popularity of supplements based on these ingredients.

Gluten + Wheat

As I mentioned, this food scan tests a reaction to proteins. Wheat contains four proteins; albumin, globulin, gliadin and gluten. The fact that I am intolerant to wheat, indicates an intolerance to all of these proteins. However, gluten is found in many other food products so this is indicated separately as well.

This came as no surprise to me as I’ve experienced a range of issues when consuming gluten from bloating to extreme lethargy. I’ve avoided having bread on a regular basis for a long time, and haven’t eaten pasta for as long as I can remember (except once during my trip to Technogym Headquarters in Italy).

It’s great to have this intolerance confirmed as I’ll now make more effort to avoid gluten in other, less obvious, products, such as soy sauce.

Yeast

My reaction to yeast is one that I found particularly interesting. It isn’t something that I considered I might have an intolerance to, although I know that an overgrowth of Candida (a form of yeast) in the body can have large, and obvious, symptoms (thrush, for example).

While I’d considered that consuming sugary foods which can fuel the growth of yeasts in the body (leading to cravings for even more sugary foods - something I’ve definitely experienced!), I’d never given much thought to the consumption of yeast itself.

But now, it feels like yeast is in everything.

As well as being an integral ingredient within many products, yeasts can also occur naturally, growing on the skin of some berries and soft fruits. It is even present in mushrooms and stock cubes. It’s almost impossible to avoid while having a balanced diet.

Not only that, but all alcoholic drinks depend on yeasts to produce the alcohol, although distilling and filtering will tend to remove most of the yeast. While I’m not much of a drinker, from now on I will be sticking to spirits such as gin or vodka (especially as I’m reactive to many types of grape - and therefore wine!).

One thing that I discussed with the YorkTest nutritionist is that my reaction to yeast could have been influenced by a recent course of antibiotics. She agreed that this could be the case. Just one dose of antibiotics could alter gut flora for up to a year! While this doesn’t really help my situation, it’s definitely interesting to know.

Food-Intolerance-Results-Guide

Resolving Food Intolerances

Thankfully, IgG food intolerances can be resolved. This is because the IgG antibodies in the blood only live for a couple of months. If the problematic foods are avoided for 3-4 months, by the time the food is reintroduced into the diet all the IgG antibodies programmed to attack the food should have left the bloodstream.

However, a lot of people develop intolerances because the gut wall, which separates food ingested from the blood stream, gets damaged by antibiotics, painkillers, alcohol and too much wheat gluten and this may cause incompletely digested food proteins to get into the bloodstream and trigger your immune system to attack.

Therefore, as well as avoiding problematic foods, it’s also important to take actions to repair the gut.

Next Steps

It’s going to be really difficult to cut out my ‘reaction’ foods. It will require a lot of planning and a lot of dedication, but I’m really keen to see what improvements I can notice in my health and wellbeing from persevering with it.

Something that I need to constantly remind myself of, is that inflammation does not always manifest itself in obvious ways. So although I may feel fine, or not notice a particularly uncomfortable reaction, that’s not to say that an issue isn’t present. Especially with an existing medical condition (read my [‘about me’ section][0] to learn more), I need to make sure that my levels of inflammation are kept as low as possible.

Since getting my results, I’ve got really wrapped up in considering foods in terms of whether I’m intolerant to them or not, and forgetting that just because I’m not intolerant to things, it doesn’t mean that they are okay to consume. Sugar is a great example of this. As I know that I have a problem with yeast (which feeds off sugar), limiting my sugar intake as much as possible will be especially important.

Other things that I will be doing is staying as hydrated as possible (cue me nipping to the kitchen to grab a drink mid-writing flow), and taking supplements that I know to be beneficial for gut health (stay tuned for a future post on this!).

Finally, I’d love to re-test in a few months to see if any of my reactions are different. I’m also really keen to take the Gut Health Test to learn if I have any imbalances in my gut flora that I can correct (and also for my own learning and pure fascination!).

Edit: since taking this York Test, I have re-tested with Cambridge Nutritional Sciences - a fantastic service that settled some of my answered questions. I would recommend CNS Food Print 200+ over York Test. Read more about my CNS Food Print experience.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the test, and any advice that you may have regarding how I can amend my diet in the least painful way!