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Food Intolerance: Is Food Sensitivity Causing You Discomfort?

Woman with Lactose Intolerance


Many food intolerances or allergies relate to the poor nutritional quality of some of the food we eat. Highly processed or convenience foods put added pressure on our digestive system to work properly. Poor diet could affect both your mental and physical health. Around half of us could suffer from food hypersensitivity.

Food intolerances or allergies can affect us at any age. They can be caused by enzyme deficiencies or by an immune system response. When food is digested the body’s immune system reacts to certain foods by creating higher levels of Immunoglobulin G antibodies that can be detected in the blood. The benefit of an immune response is that the presence of Immunoglobulin G is detectable by tests for sensitivity to a wide range of foods.

Before you go out and buy a testing kit, it is best to go to your GP to rule out any underlying health issues that you may have. To complicate matters, an intolerance or allergy to certain foods can cause a variety of symptoms that can be associated with other ailments. Symptoms of food hypersensitivity include headaches and digestive pain, skin rashes, anxiety, depression, diarrhoea, bloating, gastritis, fluid retention, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and hyperactivity disorder. You may also get different symptoms affecting you at the same time, within a few hours or even days after you have eaten a particular food.

A common misconception is that a food allergy is the same as a food intolerance. Food allergies can quickly create severe reactions when you have eaten a triggering food, such as peanuts or shellfish. Allergies can vary in intensity. Some will affect you slightly by making you sneeze or develop a skin reaction, others causing severe breathing problems, while in some instances allergic reactions can be fatal. Food intolerances, on the other hand, are rarely fatal.

To determine whether you are sensitive to any particular food, you can consider testing kits, which are from a variety of outlets and range in price depending on the variety of food items you want to have tested. Most will require you to provide a small quantity of blood that will be analysed in a laboratory for you. If you are taking any immunosuppressant or steroid medication, then these may affect your antibody production and therefore your results.

Once you have your test results, and assuming there are some positive responses to antibodies in your blood, you should consult a nutritionist. Your nutritionist will develop a special diet plan, along with nutritional remedies that can strengthen your digestive system, to see if any of the foods can be safely reintroduced into your diet. For some food groups you may not have to avoid them for the rest of your life. Usually, it is possible to reintroduce them into your diet one at a time, after eliminating them for about 3 to 4 months, and noting any symptoms when they appear. If you do not have any symptoms, then you can move onto the next food. However, if you do feel you react to a particular food again you may consider eliminating it from your diet to reduce any further discomfort.

Food intolerances are common and it is likely that your test will show at least one positive result, although your body will not necessarily show symptoms for everything that shows up on such a test. However, if you do suffer any discomfort due to food sensitivities, many food intolerances can be managed and rectified without too much effort.

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