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Health Spotlight: New test helps find foods triggering irritable bowel syndrome

(WISH) — Figuring out which foods trigger irritable bowel syndrome can be a challenge.

A new test used a simplified method to cut down how much time it can take to figure out which foods can trigger the syndrome.

Dinner prep for Natalie Vasher means chopping peppers, marinating chicken, and serving it all with a side of relief. “I felt like I was in the dark for so long, not understanding what was wrong.”

Vasher was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS. Hers started in 2016. “Gas and bloating, and just not feeling like myself no matter what I ate.”

She did what many in her situation do: an elimination, low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym for a class of carbohydrates that are hard for some people to digest: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.

The process of elimination can take up to four months. But a new blood test, called “inFoods,” can cut that time down to two to four weeks. Dr. William D. Chey, a professor of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan, said that “the blood sample is tested for various antibodies to common food triggers in patients with IBS. Based upon results, an elimination diet is fashioned.”

The test looks at patient reactions to 18 foods that can commonly activate an elevated immune response through the production of immunoglobulin G antibodies. The results show if a food should be green-lighted or red-lighted.

“And so, eliminating those foods, in our study, was associated with an improvement in overall IBS symptoms,” Chey said.

Vasher’s red lights are onions, stone fruit, apples and high-fat dairy. She adjusts her diet to keep her symptoms under control.

The Biomerica inFoods IBS blood test needs a doctor’s prescription. The test will be offered at Gastro Health locations around the country (the company’s website shows located in Cincinnati but none in Indiana) and will be offered at other medical networks soon.

The study took place at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic and the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.