Food intolerance refers to when an individual has problems digesting particular foods which results in unpleasant physical reactions. These reactions include stomach pain and bloating which occurs some hours after the food has been consumed.
Food intolerances have only recently been readily diagnosed, as research in the field has developed significantly. Despite this, many people believe that they have a food intolerance when their symptoms are an indication of something else.
Therefore, if you believe that you have a food intolerance, it’s important to get an official diagnosis from a healthcare professional. With this being said, what are the indications of food intolerance?
What are the Symptoms?
As previously mentioned, food intolerances can lead to bloating and stomach pain some hours after consuming the food. On top of this, individuals may also experience diarrhea, wind, itching, and skin rashes.
Despite this, these symptoms can be indicative of other conditions, meaning that it’s tricky to determine whether you have a food intolerance in the absence of an official diagnosis from a doctor.
If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, be sure to contact your GP and they will be able to run a series of tests to establish the cause of the problems that you’re experiencing.
Is There a Test?
Many companies distribute food intolerance tests, but these aren’t recommended by the British Dietary Association, as they’re not based on scientific evidence.
A doctor will be able to diagnose you with food intolerance, but they will first ask that you monitor the food that you eat and the symptoms that arise, as well as record what happens when you cut suspected foods out and reintroduce them.
This process will involve keeping a food diary, which should include the foods you eat, the symptoms that you experience, and when these symptoms occur.
This will help you gain an idea of which foods cause you irritation, allowing you to eliminate them from your diet one at a time. The suspected food should be removed from your diet for two to six weeks and see how this impacts your symptoms.
Following this, you can reintroduce the food and see if your symptoms return.
Could Symptoms Indicate Something Else?
If you regularly experience rashes, stomach pain, bloating, or diarrhea, a GP may be able to diagnose the source of your symptoms.
You may find that you have a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, anxiety, stress, and irritable bowel syndrome. The bowel is a particularly sensitive organ, meaning that it can be heavily impacted by stress or illness.
Each of these causes will typically be diagnosed via a blood test.
The Difference Between an Intolerance and an Allergy
Food intolerance and a food allergy aren’t to be confused with one another, as a food allergy is much more serious.
A food allergy is an immune response, as your body mistakes proteins in certain foods as a threat. After eating only a small amount of the food, symptoms will immediately occur. These symptoms include itching, wheezing, and rashes.
An allergic reaction can be life-threatening and must immediately be treated.
On the other hand, food intolerance isn’t an immune response, meaning that an allergic reaction doesn’t occur and it’s never life-threatening. Similarly, the symptoms will happen gradually and arise some hours after the food has been consumed.
Additionally, the symptoms only tend to arise upon a significant amount of the food being consumed, whereas an allergic reaction can be triggered from traces of the food. Finally, food intolerance isn’t as specific as an allergy, as it can be caused by a variety of foods.