The food Intolerance challenge
Everyone who has ever thought that what they were eating might be making them unwell or thought they might be intolerant to certain foods has faced the same challenge.
The intolerance challenge can be summarised simply as what did I eat or drink that made me feel unwell and when did I consume it. We summarise this as what caused what and when?
At first glance this may seem an easy question to answer but anyone who has ever researched or indeed suffers from food intolerances knows this is not the case.
Read on to find more.
This is perhaps understandable given the severity of reaction that can be triggered by a food allergy and we would urge anyone reading this that thinks they may have a food allergy to consult a food allergy specialist promptly to confirm whether this is the case and to ensure you do not accidentally consume something that may trigger an extreme reaction. Food allergies can have fatal consequences!!!
This article deals with food intolerances and discusses the challenges associated with identifying and treating a food intolerance.
Food intolerances are surprisingly common and yet poorly understood. This lack of awareness is not limited to members of the general public but, in our experience, extends to the general medical community.
This lack of awareness and understanding can perhaps be attributed to the large number of food ingredients that someone can have an intolerance to coupled with highly variable symptoms an intolerance can cause.
Consider first the list of common food intolerances below then imagine that any one or more may trigger any one or more of the common symptoms reported by intolerance sufferers.
Some of the more common food intolerances include:
- Lactose (Dairy, milk, cream, soft cheeses etc.)
- Casein (Dairy, milk, cream, all cheeses etc.)
- Gluten (Grains, wheat, rye, barley, bulgar, spelt, couscous etc.)
- Caffeine (Coffee, tea, chocolate etc.)
- Egg (Any eggs, mayonnaise, custard, hollandaise sauce, lecithin etc.)
- Wheat (Baked goods, bread, cakes, pastries, pasta etc.)
- Legumes (Soy, peanuts, lentils, beans, chickpeas etc.)
- Additives (Artificial sweeteners, antioxidants, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers, preservatives, colouring etc.)
- Corn (Corn, maize, sweet corn, maltodextrin, dextrose, corn syrup, corn oil etc.)
- Alcohol (All forms)
- Chocolate (All forms)
- Yeast (Baked goods, beer, lager etc.)
- Seafood (Fish, shellfish etc.)
- Tree nuts (Walnut, almond, pistachios, cashew, brazil, hazelnut etc.)
Common reported symptoms:
- Migraine (Debilitating headache, throbbing headache, light sensitivity, nausea etc.)
- Headache (Tension headache, dull pain, sinus headache etc.)
- Cough (Asthma, chronic, bronchitis etc.)
- Bloating (Swollen tummy, stretched tummy, uncomfortable tummy etc.)
- Wind (Flatulence, gas, burping, breaking wind etc.)
- Nausea (Queasiness. vomiting etc.)
- Stomach pain (Cramps, dull ache, acute pain etc.)
- Diarrhoea (Frequent bowel movements, Loose stool etc.)
- Constipation (Infrequent bowel movements, hard stool etc.)
- Hives (Raised itchy skin rash, anywhere on body.)
- Eczema (Red, dry, itchy skin rash, usually face, hands, elbows.)
- Fatigue (Chronic fatigue, shortly after meals.)
Couple the number of possible combinations of ingredients and symptoms with the fact that the symptoms may not present until 48 hours after the intolerant food ingredient was consumed and you can begin to see why clinicians, let alone the public, might struggle to correctly diagnose the cause of a patients discomfort.
This is the food intolerance challenge what caused what when?
So what is someone who thinks they might suffer from a food intolerance to do?
Specialist clinicians and nutritionists can help you identify the likely candidates and prescribe elimination diets designed to confirm this diagnosis thus allowing you to manage the intolerance going forward.
Help will soon also be available in the form of mobile app that uses advanced machine learning to help you diagnose the cause of your intolerance or intolerances if you are unlucky enough to have more than one. Machine learning in this context is a form of artificial intelligence in which the machine, your mobile device, learns which ingredients trigger which symptoms from data you enter.
We are currently beta testing the application and hope to release this by August 2020. Please get in touch if you want to know more.