Have you ever had to vomit immediately after eating or drinking something? Or did you hear your stomach growl in discomfort as soon as you consumed something unusual? You may even have experienced certain side effects on the skin for a few hours. These are all signs of food intolerance and for the sake of your health, you need to know how to deal with food intolerance!
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance refers to our body’s difficulty in digesting certain food components, which can lead to various side effects. You may notice the symptoms of food intolerance within a few hours of eating the foods your body is intolerant to. Read on to discover the symptoms and how to deal with food intolerance.
According to a 2009 study published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt, approximately 20 percent of the world’s population may have a food intolerance.
What is the difference between food intolerance and food allergy?
People often confuse food intolerances with food allergies, mainly due to the lack of information. While food intolerance is a non-immunological reaction involving the digestive system, food allergies are reactions of the immune system that can be serious or life-threatening, says registered dietitian Shweta Gupta. Allergies cause the release of histamines, causing immediate symptoms such as hives or anaphylaxis, while intolerances typically result in delayed digestive problems. Although allergies can cause serious symptoms, allergies cause less serious symptoms.
What are the signs of food intolerance?
Some common food intolerances include lactose, gluten, fructose and additives such as sulphites. Intolerance to lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk and dairy products, is very common. About two-thirds of the world’s adult population suffers from it, according to a 2015 study published in Nutrients. Some people may also experience intolerance to specific chemicals in food, such as histamine or tyramine.
Here are some signs of food intolerance:
- Bloated feeling
- Stomach cramps
Unlike allergies such as redness all over the body or a specific body part, symptoms may not appear immediately, making it challenging to identify the specific food causing the intolerance.
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How to deal with food intolerance?
Food intolerances may not be as serious as food allergies, but they can negatively impact your quality of life. That’s why you need to know what food intolerance is and what you can do about it.
1. Identify trigger foods
Keep a food diary where you can list specific foods or ingredients that trigger food intolerance symptoms, the expert tells Health Shots.
2. Elimination diet
Temporarily remove suspected foods for a period of time until symptoms subside. Then reintroduce these foods one at a time while monitoring symptoms. This helps to identify which food or ingredient is responsible for the symptoms.
3. Consult a dietitian
Rather than trying to do everything yourself, seek professional advice from a qualified dietitian who can create a personalized diet plan.
4. Read food labels
Be vigilant about ingredient lists, so read food labels carefully and avoid potential triggers while grocery shopping.
5. Enzyme supplements
Consider taking supplements to aid digestion, such as lactase for lactose intolerance, but don’t incorporate them into your daily routine until you’ve spoken to a nutritionist.
You can improve your gut health with probiotics, which can help promote better digestion, says Gupta.
Drinking a good amount of water is good for overall health, including the health of your gut. It can help with digestion and prevent dehydration due to diarrhea.
8. Meal planning
Watch what you eat and plan meals to ensure you eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet, while avoiding trigger foods.
Make sure you learn about your food intolerances or allergies only from qualified personnel and not from social media, which can be the trigger for stress that is a powerful factor for developing intolerances, says the expert.
You can also join support groups to get emotional support and practical advice for dealing with food intolerances.