It is important for us to be fully aware of how our bodies react to different foods and what we may need to add or remove from our meals to ensure a healthy and balanced diet. (Photo: Pexels)
food Essential to life and for many of us it is a source of great pleasure. However, some foods can cause us great inconvenience and even be life-threatening.
It is important for us to be fully aware of how our bodies react to different foods and what we may need to add or remove from our meals to ensure a healthy balanced diet that allows us to feel nourished and comfortable.
Food intolerances and food allergies are all reactions to certain foods. We must pay attention to what we eat so as not to put our bodies under undue stress. Let’s analyze these terms, what they look like in our bodies, and how to get guidance from a healthcare professional about navigating a diagnosis.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerances are sensitivities to certain foods that affect the digestive system. People with food intolerances are unable to digest certain foods or certain ingredients in these foods further irritating the digestive system. While food intolerances are not life threatening, they can be very upsetting and upsetting for those affected.
Food intolerance reactions usually appear within a few hours after eating. Symptoms of a food intolerance include:
Gas and/or bloating
Headache or migraine
Common food intolerances include lactose intolerance and wheat/gluten intolerance. Otherwise, it is possible to have an intolerance to a food additive, chemical or contaminant. These types of intolerances may be a reaction to:
monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Artificial food colouring, preservatives and flavor enhancers.
Toxins, viruses, bacteria or parasites that contaminate food.
Some symptoms of food intolerances may be symptoms of other diseases that can make diagnosing them difficult.
If you notice any of the above symptoms after eating certain foods and may be concerned about a food intolerance, contact your doctor for advice.
The difference between food intolerance and allergy
A food allergy is a reaction of your immune system, not your digestive system. Your immune system sends a signal to protect your body from a threat caused accidentally by a specific food or ingredient. Symptoms of an allergic reaction often occur immediately after ingestion, as opposed to hours later such as intolerance. It can also be caused by small amounts of particulate matter rather than an increase. Common food allergies include allergies to seafood, shellfish, and nuts.
Food allergy symptoms may affect different parts of the body at the same time. It is important to stress that allergic reactions may become life-threatening and require emergency care. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to a food include:
Itching sensation in the mouth, throat or ears.
Raised rash or hives
Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, eyes and roof of the mouth.
Breathing problems that may lead to anaphylaxis
Over-the-counter antihistamines can be used to treat mild or moderate food reactions. Otherwise, an injection of epinephrine and/or higher doses of antihistamines will be required.
How can I determine if I have a food intolerance?
Food intolerances may appear at any point in our lives. It is possible to eliminate previous intolerances and it is also possible to develop new ones as we age. The best tools at our disposal to determine if we have a food intolerance is the process of careful observation and experiment. Two main ways you can do this are through the Elimination Diet and the Food Diary.
An elimination diet involves removing food items that you think are causing trouble from your diet. You will not eat this food at all for two to six weeks. You will then slowly reintroduce this element into your diet and take into account how your body reacts to it and what amounts are causing the reactions. On the other hand, a food diary involves making notes about what you eat, what symptoms you experience after eating and when those symptoms occur, without having to remove any item from your diet.
Once you are confident that you have a food intolerance, the only way to manage adverse reactions is to stop eating that food completely. Or, with your documentation, evaluate the amounts of these foods that cause reactions. Going forward, you must remain vigilant and careful by monitoring your food intake and checking labels to ensure you are protecting yourself from eating something you cannot tolerate.
Neither of these methods are very scientific, plus they can be time consuming and difficult to track. However, the reward is far greater than any inconvenience.
Technological advances in healthcare, including telemedicine, give you 24/7 access to doctors. Any difficulty you may have during the elimination diet or food diary, your doctor can help guide you when and where you are. Furthermore, once the problem is identified, your doctor can guide you through creating a safe and nutritious diet.
When do I see a doctor about my food intolerance?
If you think you need treatment, food intolerances can be diagnosed and treated by telemedicine. Your GP can usually diagnose lactose intolerance, for example, by observing your symptoms and reviewing your medical history. You can do this through online consultations on platforms like MDLink, which may allow you to get treatment in the comfort and convenience of your own home, especially if you have bothersome symptoms of intolerance. You may be referred to a specialist if your doctor thinks this is necessary.
For children, parents should reach out to their pediatrician to discuss their child’s symptoms. It is crucial not to restrict the diet of children as they grow. Therefore, your doctor will be able to guide you through developing a diet that contains all the nutrients and considerations needed for your child’s intolerance.
GPs, gastroenterologists (experts in digestion), and pediatricians are all available online via MDLink. They may send you a prescription to treat your symptoms as well as refer you for recommended lab tests to guide you toward a possible diagnosis. However, if you experience severe abdominal pain, experience severe diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, or any other symptoms that may seem like an emergency, it is critical that you get urgent personal care right away.
Food intolerances can be very annoying and uncomfortable. However, as with your overall health, paying attention to your body and responding appropriately to its signals can guide you toward your healthier, more comfortable life. While taking advantage of the benefits of telemedicine, you can get personalized and private care from wherever you feel most comfortable discussing digestive issues.
Dr. Chi Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO and founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company’s website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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