By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living
Unexplained headaches, fatigue, depression or weight problems? The culprit might be a food intolerance. In fact, the list of symptoms related to food intolerance (also called a food sensitivities) is jaw-dropping, and intolerance is surprisingly common. In contrast to a food allergy, which is an immune system response and not as common, food intolerance/sensitivity is a digestive system response–both can cause serious discomfort.
In order to determine if you have any food sensitivities, you can see your doctor for a blood test or use an at-home mail-order sample test. But if you’d prefer to save money and/or not have to collect and send bodily waste to a lab, you can use the simple and effective at-home pulse test to monitor how your body is reacting to the foods you eat. Following are instructions as described by Antony J. Haynes and Antoinette Savill in The Food Intolerance Bible (Conari Press, 2008).
About the pulse test. In the 1950s, Dr. Arthur Coca identified that his wife’s heart rate would increase if she ate a food that provoked an inappropriate or allergic response. This was, as Dr. Coca put it, ‘accidentally acquired knowledge’ which he then applied to patients as well as his wife. The results were very effective and consistent.
Dr. Coca had to rely on observation, given the relative lack of sophisticated blood tests that are more available today. He developed a rational approach to measuring the pulse and its connection with foods, and used the technique to help many thousands of people. He also identified a number of symptoms.
I have a friend who lives an exceedingly healthy lifestyle, but always looked haggard and fatigued way beyond her years. When I saw her recently she looked so transformed I was afraid to ask why because I was sure she must have had “some work done” and I just didn’t want to know! A week later I ran into her husband ordering take-out and trying to figure out what he could order for her since she had discovered her gluten sensitivity. Aha! It was as simple as that. She’d been suffering from the deleterious effects of a wheat sensitivity for decades! Check these symptoms to see if any of them resonate with you, maybe you can find transformation as well.
Indigestion (vomiting, gas, nausea)
By applying the pulse test, next page, Dr. Coca was able to resolve the above conditions in patients–but he also observed some corroborating evidence:
1. Patients usually had more than one of the above symptoms, all of which resolved when they avoided foods which made their pulse accelerate.
2. Symptoms were triggered by consuming the offending foods
3. When the offending foods were eaten there was a speeding up of the heart rate each and every time.
Given the impressive simplicity of the pulse test, next are the instruction on how you can do it for yourself. You may feel that undertaking the test is a little beyond your capacity, but it is actually quite fun and makes for a powerful way of proving your reactions.
1. Stop smoking entirely, as this will interfere with the pulse testing.
2. The pulse can be taken wherever it can be felt–in the wrist at the neck or at the
3. Count the number of beats for a whole minute, not less (e.g. do not count for 30
seconds and then double it).
4. Prepare a piece of paper on which to record your results.
5. Count your pulse before and after each meal, as follows: just before eating the meal, then 30 minutes after the meal, 60 minutes after the meal and 90 minutes after the meal. Also take your pulse at bedtime, sitting on the bed.
6. All pulse counts are to be made while sitting down, except the first one of the day
when you should be lying in bed.
7. Record everything eaten at each meal.
8. Continue to do this for two to three days with the usual three meals.
9. This means you should take your pulse 14 times a day (if you eat 3 meals).
If the pulse increases after a meal, it is then possible to determine which foods might be the offending items.
1. Take your before-rising pulse count as usual. This number will be your benchmark against other pulse counts throughout the day. However, if the count is lower later on in the day, then note this new low level and revise your benchmark rate accordingly.
2. Work out your highest normal maximum pulse rate during the day, when you are at rest. The difference between your lowest and highest pulse rate should be no more than 16 beats per minute, If the difference is greater, it suggests that there is some kind of sensitivity present.
3. Taking your lowest pulse rate as the benchmark, add 12 beats to give you an idea of the probable threshold above which there is likely to be some kind of sensitivity response, be it to a food or to something you have inhaled.
4. The next stage of testing is to isolate each food to determine which one is causing a problem. This is called single-food testing, which also needs to be done over two or three days. This involves snacking on single foods throughout the day.
5. Eat a small portion of a different food every hour. For example, a piece of bread, an egg, a piece of fruit. Take your pulse just before eating the food and 30 minutes afterwards. Do not test any food that you know disagrees with you.
Interpreting Your Pulse Record
If your pulse goes up noticeably after you get up from bed, it usually means you have a reaction to something like your toothpaste or toilet articles such as shaving lotion or make-up. Sometimes it can be newsprint off the morning paper.
There are also some basic rules that you can apply, although there may be exceptions to the rule:
1. If ingesting a frequently-eaten food causes no acceleration of your pulse (at least 6 beats above your normal maximum), that food can be tentatively considered not a problem for you. If ingesting it does cause acceleration of your pulse (30, 60, or 90 minutes after eating the food), it is likely you are allergic/sensitive to it and shouldn’t eat it.
2. If you take your pulse at least 14 times a day, and if your dally maximum pulse rate is constant (within one or two beats) for three days in succession, this indicates that all food-allergens/sensitivities have been avoided on those days.
3, If your daily maximum pulse-rate varies by more than two beats–for example, Monday 72, Tuesday 78, Wednesday 76, Thursday 71–you are certainly sensitive, provided there is no infection.
4. Pulse rates that are not more than 6 beats above the normal daily maximum should not be blamed on a recently eaten food, but on an inhalant or a recurring reaction.
5. If your minimum pulse rate does not regularly occur before rising, after the night’s rest, but at some other time in the day, this usually indicates sensitivity to the house-dust mites found in mattresses or pillows.
6. If your pulse-count taken standing is greater than that taken sitting, this is a positive indication of present allergic/intolerance tension.
Dr. Coca emphasized the importance of applying yourself to testing over a number of days in order to identify which foods are making your pulse faster than normal, Dr. Coca maintained that the method was a ‘roadmap to the fountain of youth’ and encouraged everyone to use it!