A simple, affordable finger prick blood test which is available in Ireland has been pinpointed by a major study in the United States as a tool in delivering weight loss and improving general wellbeing.


The study by the University of Miami in Florida was undertaken on foot of growing fears over spiralling obesity issues facing Americans. The simple blood test can help identify food intolerances or hidden food sensitivities that may contribute to obesity, according to the study led by John E. Lewis, Ph.D., associate director of the Medical Wellness Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.


“We may have an effective new tool to help address the growing U.S. obesity epidemic,” said Lewis. “Identifying specific foods that cause a reaction from an individual’s immune system and eliminating them from the diet could be an additional strategy for long-lasting and perhaps permanent weight loss.”


The finger prick bloodtest is available in Ireland from YorkTest Laboratories. Ireland Manager for YorkTest, Sonja Waters said: “This medical research indicates that people can improve their general wellbeing and lose weight by pinpointing intolerances they have to certain foods. By eliminating these foods and following a healthy eating plan devised by our support team, real benefits accrue.”


She added: “This trial based on targeting food intolerances resulted in the participants on average losing 12lbs over 90 days.”


The Miller School study, “Eliminating Immunologically-Reactive Foods from the Diet and its Effect on Body Composition and Quality of Life in Overweight Persons,” was published in the  US Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy. It is believed to be the first to assess the effect of an Immunoglobulin G (IgG) food sensitivity test – in combination with a food elimination diet – on weight, body mass index, and quality of life in people who wanted to lose weight and/or were overweight.


Prof Lewis stated: “While there are countless dieting programmes on the market, none of them recognizes the possibility that certain foods, even healthy ones like tomatoes, could be problematic if they trigger an immune system response in overweight individuals.”


Prof Lewis said. “Eliminating foods that are IgG-reactive, while replacing them with similar, non-reactive foods to ensure that nutrient deficiencies do not occur, is a new strategy for addressing obesity.”


The Miami professor said that several prior studies have linked inflammation in the digestive tract to obesity. “It’s likely that these reactive foods have a chronic inflammatory effect on the body,” he said. “Once you subtract those foods from the diet, the immune system can regulate, which lowers the chronic, systemic inflammation, and thus helps people to lose weight. Clearly, more research is needed into the metabolic processes involving inflammation and obesity.”


The Miami study involved a finger prick blood test on 120 people (average age 45) across 115 foods. The test established which food provoked an IgG-mediated antibody response from the immune system.


Once the reactive foods were identified, the individuals had to eliminate those foods from their diet for 90 days. Body composition, blood pressure and pulse, and quality of life were assessed at baseline and 30-, 60-, and 90-day follow-ups. Participants received a manual explaining the programme, including suggestions for substitute foods with recipes. Subjects were also asked to keep a journal of their meals and overall quality of life.


“The results of our study showed that participants lost an average of almost 1 pound per week, which is just under the recommendation of what is considered safe, healthy, and potentially permanent weight loss,” said Prof Lewis. Additionally, participants lost nearly 3 inches from the waist, as opposed to just under 1.5 inches from the hip, providing support for improvements in central obesity, which is a strong risk factor for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases.


In addition to the positive changes associated with body composition, participants noted substantial improvements in both physical and mental quality of life. “Our results are consistent with other studies that have shown improvements in ratings of quality of life in parallel with weight loss,” Prof Lewis added.


The study’s co-authors were Judi M. Woolger, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Janet Konefal, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and assistant dean for complementary and integrative medicine.

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