Who should really avoid gluten and lactose, and why preventive exclusion of these products fits a few? Today we’re talking about food intolerance. Its symptoms include increased fatigue, skin itching, bloating and abdominal pain after eating. Let’s define, why it happens, and how to cope with it.
Food intolerance vs allergy
The symptoms of allergy and food intolerance are usually very similar. They include itching of the skin, rash, discomfort in the abdomen and stool disorders. However, their mechanisms are different.
An allergic reaction to a product is the body’s immune response to an irritant. Once contact with the allergen stops, the immune system calms down. In case of food intolerance, hyper-reaction of the immune system does not occur.
While for allergic reaction just a small amount or even a single odor of the allergen is enough, with food intolerance everything is more complicated. In this case, the body might react to the product later, sometimes in several days.
In fact, in adults food intolerance is much more common than food allergies. Patients with metabolism problems or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as smokers and people who move little are under higher risk.
Why it happens?
For example, it might happen due to problems in the production of enzymes digesting a particular component. Also, it might be autoimmune processes, or increased sensitivity to chemical food additives. Still, the first reason is the most common.
Lactose intolerance, as a rule, appears in adults and seems to be a normal process. Over time, the production of an enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar reduces.
How you may treat it?
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to detect and cure food intolerance yet. Therefore, in diagnostics doctors have to use the method of elimination, first of all dismissing food allergy and genetic or autoimmune gluten intolerance. The next step is diet. Usually, you have to try to avoid one potentially harmful product for six weeks to understand if it was really bad for you.
The doctor will advise you to start a food diary. Write down everything you eat, and how you feel after meals.
What to do to protect yourself?
Experts believe that proper nutrition is the best prevention of food intolerance. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, fish and meat: the more varied the diet, the better.
Do popular diets help?
Gluten-free products are becoming more and more popular. But doctors believe that not everyone needs them. In fact, gluten-free diet might help with relatively rare autoimmune celiac disease. So, first go visit your doctor.