A Food Intolerance or food sensitivity is the inability to digest certain foods. The complex way food affects our everyday lives is an emerging area of understanding, and diagnosing the cause of symptoms which seem to be ‘unexplained’ is often difficult.
Although not life-threatening, food intolerance should never be underestimated as its impact on sufferers can be significant, sometimes affecting their ability to live normal healthy lives
What is Food Intolerance?
Food intolerance is an unhealthy and unpleasant reaction in the body on consumption of a particular food or drink. It causes symptoms, such as bloating and stomach pain, which usually come on a few hours after consuming the food.
Read about it in-depth: Understanding Food Intolerance
Symptoms of Food Intolerance
Unlike an allergy, the symptoms of food intolerance may take a longer time to come to surface, further impacting their diagnosis. Unlike allergy symptoms that are immediate, symptoms of intolerance may take 2 to 6 hour after consumption. Some of the common symptoms to look out for include :
Stomach cramps / bloating
Shortness of breath / wheezing
Dizziness or feeling faint
Now that you know them learn how to monitor Symptoms of Food Intolerance
What Causes Food Intolerance?
While any food can cause an adverse reaction, 12 types of food account for about 90% of all reactions:
Red Kidney beans
Food Colours & Preservatives
Certain seeds, including sesame and mustard seeds (the main ingredient in the condiment mustard), also are common food allergy triggers and considered a major allergen in some countries.
If your symptoms come on after having dairy products, it’s possible you may have lactose intolerance. This means your body can’t digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, yoghurts and soft cheeses. Your GP can usually diagnose lactose intolerance by looking at your symptoms and medical history. Some people have trouble digesting wheat and experience bloating, wind, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain after eating bread. It is possible you are intolerant to wheat products.
Otherwise, the culprit may be a food additive, chemical or contaminant, such as:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Histamine (found in Quorn, mushrooms, pickled and cured foods, and alcoholic drinks)
- Toxins, viruses, bacteria or parasites that have contaminated food
- Artificial food colours, preservatives or flavour enhancers
Now that you know what causes Food Intolerance, have you faced issues with the above Foods ? Learn how to plan your Diet if you are Food Intolerant
Diagnosis of Food Intolerance
It is not easy to determine whether somebody has a food sensitivity or allergy because the signs and symptoms often overlap. Certain patterns in the symptoms can help a doctor distinguish between the two. In the vast majority of cases, food sensitivity symptoms take much longer to appear than food allergies.
Patients are advised to keep a diary and write down which foods are eaten, what the symptoms were like, and when they appeared. The data in the diary can help a dietician or doctor identify which foods are causing adverse reactions, and what steps to take.
Types of Food Intolerance
Some common Types of food intolerance are:
- Histamine, present in mushrooms, pickles, and cured food
- Additives such as artificial sweeteners, coloring, or other flavorings
Some people experience a reaction after eating bread, but this does not necessarily indicate a gluten intolerance. Anyone who suspects they may have a gluten intolerance should see a doctor before giving up gluten, as cereals can be an important source of various nutrients.
Solve All your Queries – Frequently Asked Questions about Food Intolerance