Food intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to certain foods or drinks, which may be immediate, or delayed. This is normally a digestive system reaction and not the same as a food allergy, which is immune system related.
Symptoms may include bloating, or stomach pain, although wider issues including headaches, bowel irritation, or feeling run down could arise.
Intolerance can result from an absence of enzymes needed to digest a food, your body’s inability to absorb nutrients, a reaction to chemicals in foods, or rarer causes. A specialist opinion will help find a solution.
Diagnosing Food Intolerance
Diagnosis can involve specialised exhaled breath testing for lactose intolerance, bacterial overgrowth or fructose malabsorption. I caution against the wide range of publicly available food intolerance tests, as the NICE guidelines do.
Apart from being scientifically unsound, inappropriate results risk your health. Even though you have symptoms which might indicate food intolerance, the problem could be something else entirely.
Symptoms such as bloating, tummy pain or difficulty digesting foods can be signs of a number of gastroenterological conditions. Establishing that other causes are not the issue is part of the reason for visiting a consultant.
I will discuss your medical history, investigate any symptoms and seek a definitive diagnosis. Where food intolerance is the problem, eliminating this with the right approach is achievable.
Treating Food Intolerance
Whilst medication can at times help treat symptoms, this is not an answer in itself. A food diary may be helpful; a professionally supervised elimination diet more so. Food intolerance can be caused by broad factors, such as wheat intolerance, or by subtle additives which need to be carefully traced.
Working With Patients
Whilst excluding other causes is essential, lifestyle and dietary changes which go beyond simply cutting out a particular food may be required.
No two people are the same, or lead the same life. Treating food intolerance should always be approached on an individual basis.