Understanding Food Intolerance & Test Required for Diagnosis

Food intolerance is also called non-IgE-mediated food hypersensitivity or non-allergic food hypersensitivity, which means complexity in digesting certain food items. It is significant to note that food intolerance is unlike food allergy.

Food hypersensitivities activate the immune system, whereas food intolerance does not. It is usually considered difficult to digest certain food items and an unpleasant reaction towards them.

Symptoms of Food Intolerance

The symptoms of an intolerance to food include those of an upset digestion –

  • Diarrhoea, bloating, upset stomach, etc.
  • Weight loss, lethargy or anaemia
  • Migraine headaches and psychological effects such as confusion and even depression.

Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diseases of the digestive system, are also considered symptoms of food intolerance.

Causes of Food Intolerance

  • Absence of an enzyme: To digest food, enzymes are necessary, and their absence will lead to food intolerance. For example, lactose-intolerant people are missing lactose enzymes.
  • Chemical causes: Certain chemicals like caffeine in coffee and tea will cause food intolerance.
  • Food poisoning: Certain toxins in food can lead to diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
  • Histamine in some foods: When certain foods like fish rot, it leads to the accumulation of histamine. It leads to the development of diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea.

Types of Food Intolerance

  • Lactose
  • wheat
  • gluten
  • caffeine
  • histamine, present in mushrooms, pickles, and cured food
  • additives such as artificial sweeteners, colouring, or other flavourings

Diseases Associated With Food Intolerance:

Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a general problem that can arrive rapidly or be a chronic illness. The possible causes of diarrhoea include food poisoning, infections, food hypersensitivities or intolerances, and medication. Lactose intolerance, the inability to digest the sugars in milk, is the most common cause of diarrhoea/ however, it’s possible to have intolerance towards other foods like fructose, salicylates, amines, etc. In such cases, diarrhoea lasts more than four weeks and is triggered by a specific food. The symptoms appear within two to 12 hours. The appearance is Watery and sometimes contains mucous.

Celiac disease: Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, is an unpleasant response to the protein gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. People with celiac disease must stay away from these grains and their by-products for the rest of their lives. Celiac disease symptoms include bloating and gas, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, itchy skin rash and pale mouth sores. The signs and symptoms may differ among affected persons.

Migraine: Migraines are a neurological illness differentiated by the attack of a solid or moderate intensity headache and other neurological symptoms. Gluten intolerance can lead to gluten, histamine, amines and Monosodium glutamate. The most common symptoms include: – A severe, throbbing and prolonged headache which can last anywhere between 4 hours and three days

– The headache will often get worse with movement

– Nausea

– Vomiting

– Increased sensitivity to light or sound

– Stomach upset

– Sweating

– Feeling either very cold or very hot

– Difficulty with concentration

Hives: Hives, also identified as urticaria, affect nearly 20 per cent of people at some time throughout their lives. Many substances or situations can trigger it, and it usually starts as an itchy skin patch that turns into a distended red welt. Some food (especially peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish) can trigger hives. It is intolerant to salicylates, amines and sulfites. The symptoms may include:

  • Batches of red or skin-coloured welts (wheals)
  • Welts that vary in size change shape and appear and fade repeatedly as the reaction continues.
  • Itching

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a common chronic skin disorder affecting millions. There is no treatment for psoriasis, and management is directed at controlling patients’ symptoms. Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition. Research is restricted, but some people with psoriasis say they can control it better if they eat more inflammation-fighting foods. A gluten-free diet also helps control psoriasis.

Asthma is a common, lasting inflammatory illness in the lungs’ airways. It is characterized by uneven and chronic symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and easily triggered bronchospasms. Symptoms of asthma are the following:

  • episodes of wheezing
  • coughing,
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath

The foods that lead to asthma can include salicylates, sulfites and histamines.

Arthritis: Osteoarthritis involves inflammation caused by the deterioration of a person’s joint and is due to chronic wear and tear – something many doctors understand all too well. Rheumatoid arthritis is a more general term for pain, inflammation and swelling of a person’s joints. Dietary factors may influence inflammatory response in RA. Gluten intolerance can lead to arthritis.

Psychosis and schizophrenia: Schizophrenia represents a broad illness range with symptomatic features and severity ranging from strange behaviour to paranoia. Gluten is considered a trigger for psychosis. Gluten intolerance represents one of the most famous food allergies present in recent history, delivering a deep impact on both physical and mental health.

Diabetes is a condition that impairs the body’s capacity to process blood glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar. Some forms of food intolerance that results in weight gain, diabetes and other complications. Various research studies show that modern foods like grains and milk products are responsible for the development of diabetes. That means one could prevent millions of pre-diabetics from developing the disease – simply by suggesting they ‘switch a few foods’. Food intolerance leading to diabetes can be due to:

  • Grass grains like barley, wheat and oats (Gluten)
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Milk products (Diary)

Management Of Food Intolerance

The easiest way to manage food intolerance is to eliminate the responsible food/s from the diet. Sometimes, the body can stand the food if it is avoided momentarily, then reintroduced in small doses, chiefly for food intolerance.

Before you get rid of or reintroduce foods, look for recommendations from an expert doctor and dietitian.

5 years ago