Personal Hacking for Health and Productivity

Food Intolerance Testing by Enterolab

Shipping a pot of poo across the Atlantic proved to be quite a challenge.

ToiletUPS gave me an outright no when I told them what was in my little pot, DHL would have loved to have helped but would only do so if I’d already proved my good character by shipping with them at least 8 times previously. I couldn’t get hold of FedEx so in desperation (note the deed had been done and the pot filled) I contacted a local medical research courier. They were super helpful but quoted £700 to take my pot to Dallas. At that price I’m sure I could take a trip to Texas and deposit a fresh sample in person. Before I bought a flight, FedEx rang me back and dealt with my request like it was an everyday occurrence. The package was collected and dropped at the lab the next morning. It cost me £76 but there didn’t seem to be a lot of competition in the market to drive down prices.

Having told you how, I should probably explain why I was sending my faeces to America.

Enterolab offer a food intolerance testing service that is available internationally and without a medical referral. They can run a series of tests on a faecal sample to determine if you have immune mediated response to a variety of foodstuffs such as gluten, casein, oats and many others. They seem to be uniquely offering faecal testing and claim this is more sensitive than blood testing and remains accurate even months after the suspect has been removed from the diet. I found this to be quite persuasive as I gave up gluten 2 months ago and had no intention of reintroducing it just to get confirmation that it caused me a problem.

I heard about Enterolab after recommendations in Wheat Belly but it is also mentioned by Terry Wahl’s in her fantastic book The Wahls Protocol.
Although it has some high profile supporters, Enterolab doesn’t have much peer reviewed backing and you don’t have to look to far to find detractors.

I was sceptical when I placed my order but sufficiently intrigued to go for it anyway. I’d been trying elimination and reintroduction diets with eggs, nuts and dairy but they are so hard to do and difficult to interpret so I was tempted by the offer of a short cut. I also opted for the genetic testing (via mouth swab) to see if I had the HLA-DQ gene that pre-disposes to gluten sensitivity.

The results took about a fortnight to come through and were well explained.

My Results

All but the Fecal Anti-Gliadin (Gluten) were within normal ranges, so the only recommendation related to gluten

Interpretation of Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA:  The level of intestinal anti-gliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicative of active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health; resolution or improvement of gluten-induced syndromes (mainly falling into six categories abbreviated as NAAAGS – neuropsychiatric, autoimmune, asthma, abdominal, glandular deficiencies/hyperactivity or skin diseases); resolution of symptoms known to be associated with gluten sensitivity (such as abdominal symptoms – pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation, chronic headaches, chronic sinus congestion, depression, arthritis, chronic skin problems/rashes, fibromyalgia, and/or chronic fatigue); and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.

and the genetic testing

Interpretation of HLA-DQ Testing:  Although you do not possess the HLA-DQB1 genes predisposing to celiac disease (HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8), HLA gene analysis reveals that you have two copies of a gene that predisposes to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, in your case HLA-DQB1*0301 and HLA-DQB1*0301. Having two copies of a gluten sensitive gene means that each of your parents and all of your children (if you have them) will possess at least one copy of the gene. Two copies also means there is an even stronger predisposition to gluten sensitivity than having one gene, and the resultant immunologic gluten sensitivity may be more severe. This test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by the American Red Cross – Northeast Division. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

I was interested in the results and felt a little vindicated to have evidence of gluten sensitivity but really it does’t matter much. I’ve already gone gluten free, I feel better and don’t need a test result to encourage me to stick at it. When you think of the cost of the testing and then how much of a faff it is to collect a faecal sample and arrange in my case for it to be shipped internationally, its hard to recommend wholeheartedly.

It’s also worth noting that if you think you may be coeliac, there are blood tests available and if you are in the UK you should be able to get your GP to do the test for you. If you are going down the blood test route you would need to still be eating gluten to hope for an accurate result. I don’t have coeliac disease, I’m interested in gluten testing because of its link to Hashimoto’s disease, at the moment the bulk of the medical profession are resistant to considering the impact of gluten on autoimmunity and are therefore unlikely to offer you testing – hence the need for a private route.

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