What Is A Food Intolerance?
The bodies immune system reacts to the ingredient/s as if it is an invader and puts all of it’s energy and resources into fighting off. An intolerance can also mean your body is naturally lacking a particular enzyme which is essential for digesting the ingredient. A perfect example of this is cows milk or lactose in all dairy. Food intolerance symptoms are much milder than an allergic reaction but if you suffer from many of them, it can still have a detrimental impact on your day-to-day life.
Food Intolerance Symptoms
Mild swelling, possibly around the nose and/or forehead
A red flushed appearance
Fluid retention often around the chin, stomach, fingers and ankles
Nasal congestion or runny nose.
Constipation (stomach/digestive system still feels and appears swollen after stomach muscles are clenched).
Stomach cramps caused by trapped wind.
Mild wheezing/tight chest
Spotty/oily skin breakouts
Joint pain/Back ache/Muscle pain
Mild itchiness and irritation
The most common food intolerance’s
Cows milk (especially common in people of Oriental Asian decent)
Sulphates (in tomatoes, mushrooms, red wine)
It might not be as simple as one of the obvious ingredients, it could be the lactose (milk sugar) in dairy. Which which is often used as a flavour coating for foods such as crisps and nuts. It could be the gluten used as a bulking agent and to bond together ingredients and to thicken most brands of soup. It could be sulphates in red wine or tomatoes, yeast in beer or MonoSodium Glutamate used as a flavour and texture enhancer in asian dishes, processed meats and some soups.Make sure you read the ingredients labels on EVERYTHING you buy.
Information and Resources
Symptoms can last up to 5 days and may not be immediately apparent.
Symptoms relating to each food intolerance can vary greatly.
It’s important to keep a food diary and a list of symptoms for the process of elimination. It will also help you later to recognise which unsuitable ingredient your food included if you eat it by mistake.
Make your pharmacist aware if you have a food intolerance as they will know more about medication ingredients than a Dr.
A good Dr should refer you to a nutritionist but unfortunately some Dr’s still consider food intolerance to be a minor problem, not worth their time. If this is the case there are now several companies which carry out blood tests against a wide range of foods and will give you a clear diagnosis. York Test offer two phone consultations with a nutritionist, they test your blood against 113 foods for a reaction, provide a food diary and lots of info. Plus, if your test shows up negative to everything they offer a full refund. I personally found them to be fantastic.
Dietary/digestive aids can help greatly if your food intolerance is mild. I find Acidophilus Complex by Viridian really relieves and even prevents some of my symptoms. I take one capsule with a problem meal and then one the next morning with a light breakfast. Obviously do read the ingredients and instructions before taking any supplements. If you can’t digest dairy you may need a complex containing a probiotic (naturally found in milk, yoghurt, cheese) to introduce good bacteria into your gut.
If you discover that you react to wheat and gluten and get regular stomach cramps and the runs, you may be coeliac. This is more severe than food intolerance and if overlooked, can cause long term stomach and digestive problems. Consult your Dr and/or ask to be referred to a specialist or nutritionist.
Bloating, frequent dihorrea, severe stomach cramps and constant fatigue can be symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or the more serious Ulcerative Colitis. Consult a Dr immediately and ask to be referred to specialist.
I realise now that I must have had a food intolerances to wheat (however I’m not celiac – a gluten intolerance – which is more severe) and dairy from being a child.
I felt very tired with small peaks of energy in between my breakfast of cereals or toast, my packed lunch of sandwiches and my tea with a dairy filled desert.
At the age of 15 my ankles and feet started to swell massively because of the undiagnosed intolerance’s. My Dr looking rather alarmed told me to stay hydrated but cut my salt intake way down. This confused me as I had more of sweet tooth. I cut down on salt even more. Nothing changed. At age 33 I’ve just learned if you don’t have enough salt you can’t sweat (which I didn’t) and you can’t cool down (which explains why I’d quickly feel sick and faint all summer) and your body has no choice but store an excessive amount of water ie water retention. Ta for that Dr.
At age 15 I had fairly bad acne and rosacea (a deep red flushing of the skin). I was prescribed pills twice to no avail. The second time my Dr (the same one I went to with my ankles) told me “If this doesn’t work, something is wrong. I’ll do tests and send you to a nutritionist.” Oh, how I wish I would have followed it up. I was a lazy teen, armed with concealer who was scared she’d be told to cut out the ready meals and McDonalds.
Age 20 (an adult bear in mind) I asked to see a Dr but only got to see a nurse. She felt my incredibly swollen stomach and intestines, then confirmed I wasn’t I wasn’t pregnant. Well I knew that! She then looked at my skinny frame and said “We can’t all look as skinny as models. Is that it? Are we done?” I was so astonished by her ignorant dismissive attitude that I actually apologised for wasting her time!
Age 30 I had read enough food intolerance articles in women’s magazines to be certain I had one. Determined this time, I deliberately made an appointment with a female Dr. I told her about my symptoms and said I was sure I’d been struggling with food intollerance for years and that I’d cut out wheat & then dairy for a month each but to no avail. Her advice “Go on a food elimination diet.” “It’s where you cut out most foods from your diet then re-introduce them one at a time.” That was literally her only information and advice on the subject. I find that really irresponsible as it could have taken 6 months maybe and I’d be going without important nutrients that support and stabilise the body. Plus she never mentioned symptoms can take days to appear, what they are or that I might have multiple intolerances. Why not just refer me to a nutritionist if she couldn’t be bothered?
Luckily, a week later York Test kits were recommended in a magazine I was reading which proved invaluable. Then a lovely woman at Neal’s Yard Remedies matched me with the perfect digestive aid by Viridian an eco friendly company selling natural products which are vegan friendly. It has made such a difference!
Don’t give up, persevere!