In recent years, we’re hearing more and more about food intolerances as opposed to food allergies and you’ll have noticed that ‘free-from’ foods are slowly becoming more and more present in supermarkets and in restaurants. But what exactly is a food intolerance and how can you treat it? There is still much confusion over the term, but a number of campaigns are being set up to raise public awareness, an example being the annual awareness month every April for IBS—one of the most common symptoms of food intolerance. If you worry that you or someone you know may have a food intolerance, or want to know more, this short guide will help shed some light on the topic.
What is it?
Unlike food allergies, food intolerances can be developed at any point in your life, a reaction to a certain food isn’t fatal but it can trigger symptoms that in some circumstances can be extremely uncomfortable. Another way of recognising that you have a food intolerance rather than a food allergy is by reaction time; it can take up to 72 hours for the body to react to the offending food which, understandably, can make it difficult to identify which food is causing you discomfort. This diagram helps highlight some of the easiest ways to tell if you have a food intolerance or an allergy.
Food intolerance testing through YorkTest is one way to determine whether you have a food intolerance once and for all.
What are the symptoms?
Food intolerance has a number of symptoms which can have a severe impact on a person’s every day quality of life. While they can dramatically vary, the most common of these are aches and pains, frequent headaches or migraines and IBS. Constipation and diarrhea are also common amongst intolerance sufferers, while many sufferers also experience weight loss and weight gain as the body reacts to the food. Due to wide range of symptoms, people can often have their food intolerances misdiagnosed and can suffer for many weeks, months or even years before they discover their reactive foods.
How can you treat it?
There are no specific drugs available to treat food intolerance; instead the best way to treat intolerance is through an elimination diet. Keeping a food diary is also something many sufferers use to ensure they cut out the offending foods. There are a wide range of resources that can be leveraged to learn more about digestive health and intolerance. Everyday Health compiled several resources, Eat Right also has a resource guide with several articles. Dietary supplements like the new Zacol brand can help support good digestive health as well.
Food intolerance is far more common than food allergies, with an estimated 45% of people in the UK suffering, compared to just 2% having allergies.
It is not the end of the world though; there are a number of ways to deal with a food intolerance. If you suspect you have one, YorkTest offers a range of tests, along with treatment plans if you receive a positive result. Click here to find out more information.