Smartblood Co-founder and Scientific Director Peter Horlock has a passion for problem solving. Able to look at complicated problems and break them down logically until the best solution is found gives him the unique set of skills and patience best suited to a scientist.
Combined with his genuine desire to help people and his interest in health and wellbeing, a niche like Food Intolerance testing seems like a natural home for Peter.
As part of Healthcare Science Week, we pried him away from the lab to find out why he choose a career in Science and why Food Intolerance testing is a field he cares so much about.
Peter, why did you decide to set up the Smartblood Laboratory?
After many years spent in the industry, I firmly believed that there was a gap to offer a better product and service to the consumer. One which was faster, more accurate and more affordable.
During my time in the food intolerance industry, I discovered the best, most effective and most customer centric ways to deliver the actionable results which really help people make positive changes to their diet, and in turn, their health.
What is your scientific background and can you explain very simply, the science involved in the Smartblood test?
I have been in science all my life. I enjoyed the subject in school through to university, into scientific research and beyond into medicines manufacturing.
I have always strived to ensure the process undertaken is the best it can possibly be and these high standards lead to the creation of the Smartblood test.
This process is called an ELISA test. In simple terms the process detects whether your body has raised any IgG antibodies to a particularly food antigen. If you have raised levels of antibodies, they will bind to the antigen, much like Velcro on a coat. To test the strength of the binding, other components are added to detect your antibodies which, in turn, produces a colour change which is recorded with specialist equipment.
I personally oversee every single result, which ensures we have trust in every result we release.
What changes have you seen in the Food Intolerance industry over the past decade?
I have seen many companies come and go in the industry. I believe that having a robust reproducibly process along with actionable client results is key.
Accuracy of the test is vital but it’s also about the follow up information and support which if offered to our customers afterwards which really helps to make those changes stick. It’s no good having a sent of results if you really don’t know where to go from there. That’s why our nutritional consultations are important so that you really feel empowered to make a change.
Do you think more people have intolerances now than 10 years ago, and if so, why?
Intolerances have always been around but I do think that, as we lead increasingly busy lives, we often make poorer dietary choices. A greater availability of low quality processed foods is certainly a factor for many health issues.
I also believe that people are now more aware that they can take action themselves for their own personal health and well-being without visiting a GP. This does mean that it’s very important that customers choose a reputable provider for their Food Intolerance test as there are a lot of questionable options on the market now.
What should you look out for when choosing a food intolerance test?
You should definitely look for a test which has scientific validity, such as ELISA based food intolerance test which requires a small blood sample, rather than alternatives such as hair testing which are not proven to be an accurate method of testing for food intolerances.
Another key point is to ensure the company you choose has a medical director to ensure the product they provide is robust, reproducible and fit for use by the client.
What makes Smartblood different to other Food Intolerance testing companies?
We firmly believe in providing our customers with a fast, actionable result. This doesn’t just include the test results themselves but also the follow up support needed to make the necessary dietary changes. Every customer is offered a personal consultation with a BANT registered nutritional therapist to ensure safe, health y and nutritious alternatives are found to replace problem foods.
Do you have any food intolerances yourself?
I am lucky that I don’t have any intolerances myself. However, I do test myself on a regular basis… just in case.