Food intolerance is characterized by difficulty in digesting particular foods. Food contains proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and natural chemicals that add to its flavour and smell. Some of these can trigger symptoms of food intolerance. Food intolerance differs from food allergy, where even a small amount of the allergic food can cause a mild to severe immune response. Food intolerance usually develops gradually and may occur when you consume too much of the particular food, too often.
Food intolerance is specific to you, and is caused by foods that are normally safe for a majority of others. Some of the common causes include:
Food intolerances can severely effect you quality of life if poorly managed. Often people do not have a clear understanding of specific foods that are triggering symptoms or over-restrict their intake unnecessary to avoid symptoms.
The symptoms caused by food intolerances can include fatigue, cognitive problems or a ‘foggy’ head, diarrhoea or constipation or both, bloating, excessive wind, skin irritation, such as rashes or eczema and/or non-seasonal nasal congestion
The pattern and type of symptoms help to distinguish food intolerance and differentiates it from allergic reactions. Keeping an accurate record of your food intake and resulting symptoms, helps to identify the foods that may cause these reactions.
Elimination diets are an effect way to investigate different food intolerances. Foods that commonly trigger symptoms are restricted for a period of time with an aim for symptom improvement. Foods are then re-introduced in a step by step approach in order to determine the exact foods that are problematic for you. Due to the restrictive nature of elimination diets, it is best to do this with the support of a dietitian with experience in this specialist area.
Our dietitians can guide you through the elimination diet for food intolerances, to help identify the foods that you are intolerant to. It is critical to undertake this diet with support from a dietitian to ensure that you are still consuming a balanced diet and your diet is not overly restrictive long-term.