What is a Food Intolerance?
By Majdi M Taher
At dinner parties across the country, guests pass on certain dishes like pastas and grilled fish, saying they can’t indulge because they have a food allergy. Most are wrong and misinformed. Food intolerance is very difficult to pin-point due to the fact that symptoms appear up to three days after eating the offending food and can last weeks. Therefore keeping dairy for 2 weeks can be misleading. True food allergies are uncommon – only 4 percent of adults have reactions to allergy-causing foods.
Why I should be concerned about food intolerance?
A food intolerance, can involve many systems in the body like;
- the digestive system – abdominal bloating, cramping, excessive wind, water retention, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, colic, nausea and vomiting.
- Central Nervous System – migraine, headache, impaired concentration, mood and behavioral changes, depression, autism, anxiety, hyperactivity, fatigue and dizziness.
- Dermatologic – urticaria, atopic dermatitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin and rashes.
- Musculoskeletal – arthritis, joint pain, aching muscle and weakness, fibromyalgia.
- Respiratory – asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, wheezing.
- Others – weight gain, weight loss, infertility
Food intolerance occurs when the body cannot produce an enzyme required for digestion. Without these enzymes, the body is incapable of breaking a food down into smaller forms for absorption into the bloodstream, resulting in painful – though rarely dangerous – symptoms. Many food intolerances are caused by inappropriate immune responses to a particular food.
Lactose intolerance is just one type of food intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant cannot digest milk sugar because their bodies lack the enzyme lactase. Some people are intolerant to alcohol, a condition known as alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency. Even small amounts of alcohol can make a person with this condition sick. Others have reactions to chemical preservatives and additives found in prepared foods, including sulphites, benzoates, salicylates, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, and tartrazine. And some coffee drinkers have to forego their morning ritual, since caffeine can cause adverse reactions.
Why I should suspect food intolerance is the cause of my problem?
If you have an intolerance to a food, you will have symptoms every time you eat or drink that food. People who are lactose intolerant, for example, will feel bloated every time they drink a smoothie, since milk is a key ingredient in the cold drink. But the severity of your symptoms depends on how much food you eat or drink; if you drink five glasses of milk, your abdominal pain will be greater than if you had eaten only one spoonful of ice cream.
At American Outpatient Clinics we provide our patients with food intolerance testing (called FoodPrint test), the test is conducted on 220 types of foods, so it is surely do diagnose food involved in your symptoms.
How can testing help?
After you have taken the Food Print test you will receive a patient pack that contains test results and Support Guide. These results will help make changes to your diet habits. Results will show mild, moderate or strong reaction and its advisable to avoid those foods that have shown moderate to strong reaction.
Since food intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome share many of the same symptoms, the condition is hard to diagnose. Finding the source of your discomfort is also a challenge; symptoms can occur hours or even days after eating a type of food. For this reason, it is best to consult with a doctor before eliminating any foods from your diet – you might eliminate the wrong food and deprive yourself of essential vitamins.
The cure for food intolerance is avoidance. If a food causes you pain and discomfort, eliminate it from your diet.