Your Plan of Action – The Natural Approach
- Watch carefully for food triggers.
- Keep a note of your different symptoms and whether they are connected to different foods you are eating.
- You may need a more personalised approach with your diet and using supplements to restore balance. This should always be carried out under the supervision of a nutritionist
Best Test Options: Food Intolerances Test
The Difference Between A Food Intolerance And An Allergy
Although people use the words interchangeably there is a major difference between a food intolerance and an allergy.
A food allergy is defined as a specific response by the immune system to a substance (inhaled, touched or eaten) that it mistakenly identifies as harmful. Well known examples would be very severe reactions to peanuts or shellfish where the response is immediate, doesn’t depend on how much of the food has been eaten and symptoms can include difficulty breathing, rashes, swelling, runny nose and possible anaphylactic shock which can be fatal.
The allergy triggers the release of IgE antibodies which attach to ‘mast’ cells and cause the release of histamine, the chemical which causes a contraction of the muscles around the air passages (an attack of breathlessness or asthma), local swelling and skin irritation, and, if the attack is serious enough, a drop in blood pressure.
This type of allergy is tested by blood and looks at the levels of IgE antibodies.
There is another type of reaction to food called food intolerances and it is also known as food sensitivity or non-allergic hypersensitivity. With these reactions there can be a delay in the onset of the symptoms (from 4-72 hours), and the foods are often eaten in larger amounts and more frequently. Symptoms can be varied, from bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and flatulence to lethargy, arthritis, fatigue, skin rashes, eczema, joint and muscle pains, recurrent infections, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, water retention, headaches, migraines and generally feeling unwell.
This type of reaction can be broken down into three different types:
- Lack of an enzyme
- Chemical reaction
- IgG antibodies
Lack of an Enzyme
People with this type of food intolerance don’t produce a particular enzyme that helps them break down a certain food. The most common one is lactose intolerance. Lactose is milk sugar and you have to have the enzyme lactase in order to breakdown the lactose otherwise it can cause common IBS symptoms as it sits fermenting in the gut causing pain, gas and bloating.
This is where the reaction is caused by a chemical within the food rather than of you lacking an enzyme. One of the most common food intolerances due to this is caused by the chemical amines. For example, the amines contained in foods like cheese, citrus fruits, red wine, chocolate and coffee can trigger a migraine in some people by causing blood vessels to expand in those who are sensitive to these substances.
We know that high levels of IgG antibodies are associated with inflammation and inflammatory substances are produced in the gut as a response to the IgG antibodies.
This inflammation can make you very sensitive to certain foods and also damages the wall of your intestines. This damage causes ‘leaky gut’ where the intestines can’t prevent the ‘leakage’ of large particles through the intestinal wall into general blood circulation. Food molecules can escape into the blood stream which then sets up an immune response because the body treats these food particles as foreign substances and starts to attack them. This is how you can react to foods that previously gave you no problems at all.
Can Nutrition Help?
If you suspect you have a food intolerance, it is important that you are tested before you start removing specific foods.
Then if you need to remove certain foods, it is important that you have good meal plans so that your diet does not become too restricted as you don’t want to end up with nutrient deficiencies.
Nutrients For Food Intolerances
Certain nutrients can be extremely helpful if you have been restricting your diet to ensure you don’t become deficient.
We can recommend what you need to take so that your supplement programme can be personalised depending on your symptoms.
Tests For Food Intolerances
The best test to do is a Food Intolerance Test which will measure over 200 different foods. This can be done with a simple finger test.
Your nutritionist will then work out a diet that takes into account your results. You may also need help for a leaky gut if the test is showing a number of food reactions and this can be discussed at your consultation.
Where to Start?
Make sure you are eating well and watch for trigger food in your diet. If you would like personalised advice on what to do next then request a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists.