Food is a basic necessity for human beings. Without food it is difficult to survive for a long time. Whether it is a relishing lobster dish or a pizza, we all value and enjoy eating a delicious meal. However, there are people who may be unable to eat all types of food, because they have food intolerance to certain type of food.
Food intolerance is a type of reaction that takes place in the body after eating some type of food or ingredient present in the food. It occurs every time this food is consumed. In other words the digestive system is unable to digest the specific food.
Food intolerance is not same as food allergy as there is no involvement of immune system. Also it is not similar to food poisoning. Food poisoning affects all those who have eaten that specific food and it is caused by germs and toxic elements. Neither there is psychological factor attached to food intolerance. In medical words it is non allergic food hypersensitivity.
The most common food intolerance’s are: lactose present in milk, gluten present in wheat, yeast, shellfish, egg, nuts, oats, rye, avocado etc.
Causes Of Food Intolerance
Food intolerance occurs when the body of not able to digest a specific food. It happens because there is deficiency of certain enzymes and chemicals that are required to digest the food. Lactose intolerance is one of the commonest examples of food intolerance in humans. Many people have intolerance to cow milk. These people have deficiency of an enzyme called lactase. The enzyme lactase is responsible for digestion of cow milk.
People having lactose intolerance may complain of vomiting, diarrhea, bloating of abdomen after intake of cow milk. Lactose intolerance is common in children above two years. The problem is common in people of Asian and African origin. It is seen less in western population.
Organic chemicals present in their natural form in foods, both in plants and animals may also trigger food intolerance symptoms in hypersensitive individuals.
Heredity has been associated with food intolerance. There may be similar intolerance to food among siblings and parents.
A wide variety of preservatives, chemicals, and additives present in foods and drinks can cause food intolerance. Most common culprits are salicylates, benzoates, sulphites, sodium glutamate, tartrazine, aspartame etc. Foods such as fruit juices, nuts, wine, vegetables, spices and coffee contain salicylates and benzoates in their natural form.
Food Intolerance Symptoms
Food intolerance is generally a late response of the body towards that food. The symptoms are not as obvious as they are due to food allergy. Though not harmful, food intolerance can cause unpleasant symptoms that can disrupt a person’s daily life.
- When a person eats certain food which his body is not able to digest, it tries to reject the food. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating of abdomen, abdominal cramps are some of the gastrointestinal symptoms that it can exhibit. The intolerance symptoms may take hours and days to appear after eating the triggering food.
- The severity of the symptoms may depend on the quantity of food that is eaten. It also depends on the amount of deficient enzyme.
- The skin symptoms may include rash, urticaria, itching, eczema etc.
- Respiratory symptom includes running nose, stuffy nose, sinusitis, cough, irritation of pharynx and larynx, asthma like breathing etc.
Remedies For Food Intolerance
- The best way to manage food intolerance is to find out which food is the culprit for your problem. Once you find it out avoid these food in your diet.
- Cow milk can be replaced with soy milk or hypoallergenic milk formula products in Children who have intolerance to lactose.
- Adults can use lactase enzyme tablets if they are having lactose intolerance.
- When certain foods are excluded from the diet due to food intolerance, it is necessary to replace other foods to diminish the chances of nutritional deficiency.
- Most of the food intolerance symptoms go away when a person having it eats following food; Bananas, ginger tea, lime juice or fennel tea.