What Hides Behind Food Intolerance?

Have you ever heard of non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity? Or non-allergic food hypersensitivity? These two terms refer to a difficulty to digest certain types of food. In other words, this is the definition of food intolerance, which means that if you are unfortunately one of the people touched by intolerance, you would have heard the medical definition for your issue. If you are not, you may want to make a clear distinction between food intolerance and food allergies, as these are too often confused even though they refer to very different problems. Scientists estimate that up to 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. There is no indication of how many people suffer from food intolerance because its symptoms can go unnoticed if they are only mild. If you find yourself experiencing some issues with specific types of food, this might be a sign that your body rejects the food or can’t process it properly. If you are not sure about it, read more to find out how to best address your issue without depriving yourself of the pleasure of eating. After all, food should be a pleasure – a necessary one, admittedly, as you need to eat to live – and shouldn’t be synonymous with pain and medication. 

#1. What is Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy?

Food intolerance and food allergy are two different things that you shouldn’t mix up. Indeed, food allergy triggers a reaction from your immune system, as it tries to protect itself from the allergen. This is a histamine response. The presence of food allergen can lead to a deadly conclusion for 1 in every 13 children under 18 years of age in the USA. This means roughly that two kids in each classroom could die of a food allergy, and especially to the results of an anaphylactic reaction. The most common food allergens tend to be milk, peanuts and tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, eggs, and shellfish. In opposition, food intolerance has no histamine response at all as it is not linked to the presence of an allergen. In truth, food intolerance is commonly caused by the absence of a digestive enzyme which stops the body from digesting certain foods, such as lactose or gluten, for example. Commonly the symptoms are those associated with digestion problems: Feeling bloating, diarrhea, gas, stomachache and spasms. Other common causes of food intolerance are the presence of chemicals and toxins in food, as well as the presence of food additives which can’t be processed effectively by the body. While some symptoms can overlap between intolerance and allergy, although the symptoms of food intolerance do take longer to appear as they are triggered by the digestion instead of the ingestion of the food. While you can treat a food allergy with the right medication, such as an EpiPen, the best way to manage food intolerance is to practice an exclusion diet. This is a big difference.  

#2. Is Food Intolerance And Allergy Normal?

A lot of people have started to naturally restrict their diet, especially gluten as there is a concern that wheat might be unhealthy. Whether they have read that gluten is difficult to digest, or whether they are concerned about weight gain, the label of unhealthy food is an unfair myth.  So is the increased worry about food intolerance, as it seems that most of the observed symptoms, such as headaches and feeling bloated, could come from the overconsumption of processed food. Are we just eating the wrong food and blaming it on our bodies? This is a possibility to bear in mind. There is indeed an increase in food allergy and food intolerance, as far as doctors can say: The number of complaints has increased, and this is, unfortunately, the best way of measuring the evolution of the food problem in the world. During the past few decades, wealthy western populations have turned more and more to processed foods and urbanism. To put it in different words: People eat differently from what they used to consume at the beginning of the previous century. It’s now incredibly easy to buy a prepared meal in a box and warm it up in the oven for dinner. They also travel and work differently. There is no doubt that the peaks of pollution that the world is experiencing are the direct cause of the progress of urbanism, from the industrial revolution to the increased number of cars on the road. These are important environmental changes to consider in combination with the increase of allergies and intolerance cases in the modern society. The fact that doctors have noticed a less dramatic rise of food issues in the populations of the Third World may not be directly connected to the lack of medical supplies. It may well be that a poor lifestyle doesn’t facilitate the apparition of food types that don’t agree with the human body. 

#3. Find Solutions 

If you are experiencing reactions after you’ve eaten, such as headaches, stomachaches or even nausea, you need to keep a food journal to make sure that you can pinpoint the elements that are causing you pain. There are ways to avoid food problems, but all involve a change of lifestyle. It’s about finding the appropriate substitution, such as coconut flour to replace wheat or soy milk to replace cow milk, for example. Indeed, remember that food intolerance doesn’t mean that you should abandon the food you love: You can still enjoy a delicious sponge cake, even if you are gluten intolerant. All you need is to find the right substitute. It is also the type of information that you want to provide when you order a meal. More and more catering services, such as Matteos Gourmet, offer gluten-free and lactose-free menus to meet the needs of their guests. Don’t be afraid to ask the chef how they approach these menus: You might find ideas for your everyday alternative cooking.  

#4. Don’t Assume: Test It

Last, but not least, don’t assume you suffer from food allergy or intolerance without an appropriate test. Bear in mind, though, that only certain types of food intolerance, specifically lactose and gluten, can be screened successfully, as they are linked to an enzyme deficiency. Others might be more difficult to identify, so do make sure to keep a thorough food journal if you suspect any issue. 

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Mar 7, 2017 at 14:55:05
Living with a food allergy can be very difficult. It's great that now there are so many options for people like me when it comes to buying groceries, catering, and even eating out!