Remember when you were a kid, and you could annihilate endless bowls of ice cream without the slightest bellyache?
But now, many of us experience digestive turmoil after a rendezvous with dairy or a host of other common foods. What’s the deal? Unfortunately, as we age, the chance of experiencing food intolerances may increase.
However, you’re not alone, as food intolerances and sensitivities seem to be on the rise. It’s estimated that up to 20 percent of the world’s population suffers from a food intolerance.
We decided to dig into the research and learn more about this term and how it differs from a food allergy.
Importantly, we’ll also offer some advice on managing a food intolerance, so you don’t have to say goodbye to Rocky Road forever.
Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy
According to the Mayo Clinic, a true food allergy affects the immune system. Even small amounts of the offending food can trigger a range of symptoms, which can be severe or life-threatening.
That friend who carries an Epi-pen in case a random peanut slips into their meal has a food allergy.
In contrast, a food intolerance often affects only the digestive system and causes less serious symptoms.
If you have a food intolerance, you may be able to enjoy small amounts of the offending food without trouble. You may also be able to prevent a reaction, but we’ll get to that later.
With that said, differentiating between a food allergy and a food intolerance can be tricky. With a food intolerance, symptoms usual begin within a few hours of eating the culprit.
However, symptoms can be delayed up to 48 hours, making it challenging to pinpoint the offending food.
Food Intolerance Symptoms
According to Healthline.com, symptoms of food intolerances vary; they most often involve the digestive system, skin, and respiratory system.
Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, headaches, rashes, abdominal pain and reflux.
Food intolerances can be diagnosed by elimination diets designed to narrow now offending foods and then reintroduce them one at a time while monitoring symptoms.
Common Food Intolerances
This one gets top billing and concerns the lactose (sugar) found in dairy products. It’s broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which helps you properly digest the food. Lactose intolerance happens when there’s a shortage of lactase enzymes. It’s super common, as 65 percent of the world’s population has trouble digesting lactose. Symptoms involve the digestive tract, so expect diarrhea, bloating and gas. A hydrogen breath test can detect lactose intolerance.
You’ve probably never heard of this one, but we’re confident you’ve eaten these foods. Histamines are naturally occurring chemicals in foods like cheese, pineapples, bananas, avocados and chocolate. And sorry to say, red wine and some white wines also have histamines. People who are histamine intolerant don’t make enough diamine oxidase enzyme to break down this chemical.
This is a very common one. Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s important to note that gluten sensitivity isn’t the same as celiac disease, an autoimmune disease. When you have celiac disease, gluten damages the small intestines. If you have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, your body has more difficulty digesting gluten.
This is a partial list of food intolerances. Other common culprits include eggs, shellfish, corn, soy, coffee, and various food additives.
What Can Help
As mentioned above, an elimination diet is an excellent first step, and checking in with a trusted healthcare provider is a good idea.
While there’s no cure for food intolerances, there are ways to manage them. Obviously, it’s best to avoid the offending foods or eat them less often and in smaller amounts.
Certain digestive supplements, especially those with digestive enzymes, can help manage pesky food intolerances. In many cases, you can still indulge in that fave if you have the proper support.
Zenwise offers a variety of condition-specific premium digestive supplements that can help with digestive upsets caused by food intolerances.
Not sure what you’re looking for in a digestive supplement? Take our 3- minute quiz, which will point you in the right direction. Targeted digestive relief is just a click away.