Deborah Manners Food Intolerances Interview

Deborah Manners Food Intolerances Interview

Deborah Manners Food Intolerances Interview

The foodintolreg; Survey 2012, highlighted that many people have a family member or child with food intolerance. Furthermore undiagnosed intolerances can affect stress levels, concentration, and mood.

The survey was conducted internationally by Australian business foodintol® with the majority of respondents aged 18-65 who either had food intolerance or were interested in intolerances. Over 900 people completed the survey with participants from Australia, USA, Canada, NZ and UK.

Nearly half of respondents had a relative (sibling, parent, other) with food intolerance (48%) and some had more than one. Of all respondents, just over a fifth have a child with food intolerance (21%) and a further 27% suspect their children have intolerances. In addition 21% didn't have children with food intolerance (31% of respondents had no children).

Foodintol® Director, Deborah Manners, explains "Dairy and gluten were by far the main food intolerances reported however Fructose sensitivity is now surprisingly high. Sensitivity to food additives is also on the rise along with yeast sensitivity."

"As a result of substituting the troublesome food 40% had better concentration, 37% were less stressed and 50% found they had a brighter mood. Furthermore, 20% of respondents had less time off work or school," said Manners.

"Additional benefits some recipients enjoyed included more joint mobility for 23%, weight loss for 38% and increased energy for 70%."

According to Manners employers have much to gain by fostering awareness of food intolerance amongst employees. Along with improved employee health they see productivity increases associated with less downtime, better morale and fewer medicated people at work.

59% of respondents were surprised by their food intolerances, either suspecting the wrong intolerance (17%) or finding they had not one but two food intolerances (42%).

Finding out their food intolerance also had an added benefit for many people - more cash in their hip pocket. Interestingly the results highlighted 30% now spend less on medications or doctors' visits since identification of their food intolerance. 12% now don't need medication anymore and 36% have decreased their need for medication.

Bloating, IBS, diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness, back and joint pain, headaches, weight gain, skin problems, and food cravings were the main symptoms people reported experiencing due to their food intolerance. Others reported weight loss, candida and respiratory problems. Most people experienced more than one symptom.

"The vast majority of respondents found their symptoms improved or evaporated after discovering their food intolerance and switching out problem foods - across the board improvements for every ailment," said Manners.

foodintol® is an online resource for the food intolerant consumer - it is a place of knowledge for food intolerance, providing access and information from peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals. Foodintol® is a comprehensive resource centre about food intolerance with News, Facts and Solutions to streamline life for those with food intolerance.

Interview with Deborah Manners

Deborah Manners is a leading authority on food intolerance as a consumer issue. As well as public speaking, she has authored and developed practical and invaluable guidebooks for food intolerant consumers. With university qualifications in science and education: B.Sc.(Hons) and Dip.Ed., from Monash University and State College of Victoria, she is well qualified to educate and inform the public about food intolerance.

Deborah suffered for decades with food intolerance and many inadequate diagnoses. In 1994 she began researching it in earnest - leading her to an elimination diet. Now, fully recovered, healthy and slimmer, she shares her hard-earned knowledge with the world via foodintol®.

Realising that there was a major gap in how food intolerance is addressed in Australia, she launched in July 2003 quickly building the site to attract a global audience that extends to USA, Canada, UK and New Zealand.

Question: What is a food intolerance?

Deborah Manners: A food intolerance is an inability to fully digest a food. That means it is only broken down partly. That produces substances your body does not recognise. Once in your blood stream they can cause immune reactions - or interfere with other processes. A food intolerance can be missed because the symptoms are delayed hours - or even days.

Question: What are the main symptoms associated with food intolerances?

Deborah Manners: The foodintol Survey 2012 showed there are many symptoms. Food intolerance can certainly cause:
Gastro issues: nausea, bloating, flatulence, cramps, constipation and diarrhoea
Headaches, migraines
Drowsiness, tiredness,
Sinus pain
Mouth ulcers
Mood swings, the blues, depression
Stiff joints, back pain and arthritic symptoms
Skin issues (hives, eczema, psoriasis)
Gradual weight gain
Other symptoms

But identifying food intolerance and substituting the problem food heals all these- with no medications or therapies. Benefits of doing this included weight loss reported by 38% of respondents.

Question: How do food intolerances differ to allergies?

Deborah Manners: They are both food sensitivities. Food allergies have a sudden and severe onset reaction that happens in the mouth or in the stomach.

Food intolerance gives delayed symptoms - causing long-term chronic symptoms which may eventually become chronic disease like diabetes type 1, rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease. Food intolerances are dangerous to our health because we ignore the symptoms - and they can lead on to chronic disease. We don't connect them with the food (due to the delayed reactions). Many people have headaches, back pain, stomach bloating or skin issues without ever suspecting it could be food intolerance.

Everyone with ongoing symptoms should investigate food intolerance. Start with the free Symptoms Matrix at

Question: Is the main treatment to not eat the food?

Deborah Manners: Yes, but rather than 'eliminating foods' - we say 'substitute foods'. The foods that we are intolerant to are Modern Foods: grains, dairy and sugars; foods that were not available to our pre-historic ancestors. These foods have only appeared very recently in our diet.

Humans have survived more than two and a half million (2,500,000 years) - but we have only had farming for the last 10,000 years. Farming brought us grains and dairy products. Milking an animal is a very modern idea. So is the cropping of grass grains like wheat and barley. Many of us - have bodies which have not yet evolved the biological equipment to process these Modern Foods.

And that's why they make us sick.

Question: How is a food intolerance diagnosed?

Deborah Manners: There are a number of ways to diagnose food intolerance. If you visit you will be able to see all the different types of testing available. If you have a chronic disease (diabetes, arthritis, eczema, asthma) you could have an underlying food intolerance that has caused the disease.

To actually test for food intolerances a doctor may organise a blood test, a biopsy, breath tests or other diagnostics such as a gastroscopy.

However - there is also the Journal Method which is quick, easy and accurate. The Journal Method uses three separate phases to track your symptoms against foods eaten. If you remove dairy completely from your diet for two weeks, because you suspect you have a dairy intolerance, then bring it back in for one meal - and keep tracking your symptoms - you may notice a big reaction. That is great evidence you have that intolerance….because your symptoms don't lie.

At we have a useful free device called the Symptoms Matrix which you can download. Use it to compare your symptoms against the four main intolerances - and start figuring out which intolerance you have.

Question: How does family history play a role in food intolerances?

Deborah Manners: Food intolerances are genetic and the inability to fully digest foods is passed down through the generations. So it certainly runs in the family. We all have different genes, even within a family and some members may be more sensitive than others.

Question: Why do food intolerances come on later in life?

Deborah Manners: To understand food intolerance- we first need to think about 'food tolerance'. Our bodies are very tolerant and we can abuse them by having too much alcohol, fatty foods or chocolate. But the next day, we're okay - especially when we're young because our bodies recover. But as we get older the body is not as tolerant - so we become sick on the wrong foods. Food intolerance is something an individual will always have because it's genetic.

A 'life event' such as a death of a loved one, moving house, failing an exam or any big emotional or stressful life event can cause a food intolerance to suddenly appear.

Question: Is food intolerance on the rise?

Deborah Manners: I think the awareness of food intolerance is on the rise in terms of being in the media, being understood and people talking about it. This rise in awareness is a really good thing.

Question: What are the main foods that people are intolerance to?

Deborah Manners: The main food intolerances are the Modern Foods:
Dairy - all milk and milk products like cheese, whey powder, yogurt, lactose etc.
Grains including wheat, barley, oats, and others
Sugars in abundance - which were not available to our caveman ancestors
To a lesser extent Nightshade Vegetables from South America

There are some grains that are well tolerated and more fully processed in the body - and rice is one. Also many people tolerate corn quiet well because it contains different types of protein.

On the website people can find out exactly which foods they react to - by using the Journal method in the Healing Program.

Question: What findings from the study surprised you?

Deborah Manners: One very interesting finding was that when people identify their food intolerance - not only do they lose their symptoms (bloating, headache, eczema or whatever) - but they experience wellbeing benefits as well:
40% of participants reported better concentration
50% reported having a brighter mood
70% reported that they had more energy
38% of people reported weight loss

We already knew about these benefits anecdotally - because we have been fielding queries from members for almost a decade - since 2003. But we didn't have the hard figures we now have from the Survey. I'd encourage people to come to the website to just look at the survey results to see if they can take anything from that.

Question: Can you talk about your experiences with food intolerance that lead to the creation of Foodintol?

Deborah Manners: I had intolerances my whole life including constant headaches, allergies, sinus pain, aches and pains, headaches, bronchitis and serial respiratory infections which heavily impacted my life. No doctors could make me well. Then in 1993 as a last resort I went to the Melbourne University medical library and started reading medical journals. After many months of putting it all together I realised I had food intolerances. I knew I would not be the only person affected. So I decided to publish my precious information on a new website -

The website did not start out as a business. I did eventually found out what I was intolerant to. But I couldn't find good information about intolerances anywhere - and I wanted to share the information with others and foodintol® arose from that.

I started with a $2 blank exercise book - keeping notes. I followed my diet for weeks where I would add and take food out of my diet. When I recorded the massive reaction when by returning certain foods to my diet - I knew I had to share this with others. So I created the website packed with information.

But soon I had people asking for guides and how to create a journal so I created a template of my journal - and now people buy that as part of the Healing Program along with six individual food guides.

Keeping a journal is a very useful thing to do and very instructive - as people start listening to their body and learning about themselves.

Interview by Brooke Hunter