The food intolerance is a disorder in which various manifestations occur after ingestion of a particular food. It is a different condition from food allergies, although it is possible that they can be confused.
What is the difference between food intolerance and food allergy?
Food intolerance is related to the inability of the body to properly digest a certain nutrient. The origin of the failure is genetic, and many times it is related to some variations in the genes that lead to not having the necessary proteins to be able to adequately metabolize the substance to which one is intolerant.
Food allergies have a completely different mechanism. In this case, the body becomes sensitized to a food, recognizing it as something harmful, which leads to the activation of the immune system, producing a substance called histamine that is responsible for allergic symptoms.
These symptoms are mainly characterized by itchy and swollen skin lesions, congestion of the mucous membranes, edema of the eyes and mouth, vomiting and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing may develop.
How to recognize a food intolerance?
The person who has difficulty processing a certain food will present very characteristic manifestations each time they consume it.
Many times these symptoms are related to gastrointestinal infections such as parasitosis, so it may take a long period of time to diagnose this condition, which occurs when a relationship between the symptoms and the food (s) is achieved, since there may be several intolerances coexisting simultaneously.
The main ones are digestive discomfort such as colic, bloating, gas, heaviness, general malaise and headache, sometimes it is possible that there are also changes in bowel movements.
These symptoms appear every time the food to which one is intolerant is ingested.
An example of intolerance is the presence of these manifestations after the ingestion of gluten, which occurs in people with the disorder known as celiac disease, which has had a greater visibility in recent times.
This is related to the fact that awareness campaigns have been created and, in addition, greater access to specific laboratory tests that allow to recognize this disease has been achieved. However, at this time it is estimated that only 2 out of 10 celiacs have this confirmed diagnosis
Another very common example is lactose intolerance, a disorder in which these symptoms occur after the ingestion of milk or dairy products. In this case, the disorder is related to lactase deficiency, an enzyme necessary to metabolize lactose, the main sugar present in milk.
What should be done about a food intolerance?
Once the food to which one is intolerant has been ingested, there is no specific treatment.
Symptoms can be treated with medications that help relieve abdominal cramps, gas, and flatulence. These discomfort will persist as long as the food remains in the gastrointestinal tract, they tend to improve after 1 to 4 hours after consumption.
In the case of lactose intolerance, there are lactase-based preparations in the form of tablets for oral use that can be ingested before ingesting dairy products.
Another effective measure is to opt for lactose-free milk and lactose-free dairy products.
Intolerance to gluten and other foods
The best measure to take in these cases is to avoid eating the foods that cause the intolerance. This is the only effective intervention to avoid the appearance of symptoms.
Foods that contain gluten are wheat flour (including whole wheat flour), barley, malt, semolina, and bulgur.
Check the labels: essential in people with intolerances
Many times products such as gluten, milk or some dairy derivatives are found in various foods without their existence being suspected.
It is advisable to check the labels of the products, since many times they can contain flour or milk as hidden ingredients, even as stabilizers or preservatives, which leads to discomfort after consumption.
The same is true of the package inserts for medications, supplements, and vitamins. It is important to review them carefully as many tablets and lozenges use lactose as a component to form the tablet.
In these cases, it is more difficult to diagnose intolerance since it is rare to associate symptoms with the use of these products.
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