Probably one of the most annoying things in this world is food intolerance. Unlike food allergies, which can be identified with testing, food intolerance is a hit and miss proposition that can drive the sufferer crazy. We’re going to give you the facts and the truth about food intolerance and tell you how it can be handled.
The first myth that needs to be dispelled is that people who are intolerant to certain foods are allergic to those foods. Food allergies are not the same as having an intolerance to certain foods. The symptoms may be very similar, which is why food intolerance is so difficult to pin point, but the causes are quite different.
With a food allergy, your body is actually allergic to the food in question and the reaction is that of your immune system itself fighting back, very similar to if you were allergic to pollen. The sneezing is your body fighting back against the pollen in the air. With a food intolerance, the immune system does not come into play. Your body does not believe that it is being invaded by a foreign body. However, your organs, usually your stomach and intestine which is where food is digested and eliminated, will react to certain ingredients in the food in question simply because it is intolerant to that particular food.
Food intolerance usually occurs because your body stops producing certain chemicals or enzymes that aid in the digestion of that particular food. This happens to quite a number of us as we get older. This is why so many people are lactose intolerant, as the enzyme created to properly digest lactose actually decreases in production as of the age of 2. It isn’t until we are much older, however, that we start to develop symptoms, which are sometimes quite severe.
The only way to tell if you are allergic or intolerant to certain foods is to take a food allergy test. This can be given by a regular allergist. If the test comes up negative on the foods tested, and they test quite a number of different foods, then what you are suffering from is an intolerance and not an allergy.
If it is determined that you are intolerant, how do you find what foods you are intolerant of? This, unfortunately, is the hard part. The only way to do this, since there are no clinical tests, is to systematically eliminate foods from your diet and see what the effects are. Personally, I found that I was intolerant to anything with high fructose corn syrup. This was easy for me to spot. I started drinking a fruit punch that I had never drank before. I got terrible indigestion from it. I stopped drinking it and the indigestion stopped. I then looked at the ingredients, where I discovered the only thing I didn’t normally have in any of my other foods. Since that time, simply eliminating foods with high fructose corn syrup, I have not had any indigestion.
Is it easy to find what foods you are intolerant of? No, it’s not. It’s especially hard if you eat a lot of different foods. However, most reactions occur after about 30 minutes to an hour after eating. So if you eat breakfast and you’re fine but then an hour after lunch you’re not feeling so well, it is most likely something you ate at lunch that is the culprit. Simply eat the same lunch the next day, except eliminate one of the items. Eventually you will find what is bothering you. The most common forms of intolerance are lactose and wheat. This should give you something to work with.