Many of us experience food intolerances (non-allergic food hypersensitivity) that result in difficulty digesting a particular type of food. This isn’t the same as an allergy, which triggers the immune system and can have serious consequences. Food intolerances aren’t usually as severe, however they can cause some extremely unpleasant symptoms, such as migraines and headaches, irritable bowel, bloating, stomach ache, hives, and coughs, runny noses and a general feeling of being ‘under the weather’.
While food allergies can be triggered by even a tiny amount of food and have immediate and obvious consequences, intolerances usually take longer to manifest. Symptoms are often dismissed as being everyday irritants, or assumed to be caused by something else. If you have an intolerance, identify it, and put a stop to it, you will experience a greater feeling of overall wellness and feel so much more comfortable!
We can help you with identifying your food intolerances, but what we’re really passionate about is working out what is causing your food intolerances!
Unlike allergies, which are caused by the body’s immune system reacting to a particular substance as if it were harmful, intolerances can be caused by several different things. Getting to the bottom of what’s causing your intolerance is as important as identifying the type of food you’re struggling with.
Here are five things that may be causing your food intolerances:
#1 – Low or Absent Digestive Enzymes
In order to fully digest our food our bodies require certain digestive enzymes. When we are missing these digestive enzymes, or have an insufficient amount in our digestive system, our bodies struggle to digest our food properly.
For example, lactose intolerance is cause by too little lactase, which is the digestive enzyme our bodies use to break milk sugar (lactose) down into small molecules our bodies are able to further breakdown and absorb once they reach the intestines. If this doesn’t happen, problems arise once digestion reaches the gut, as lactose cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream without first being broken down in this manner. Instead, the lactose remains in the gut and causes stomach ache, bloating, diarrhoea, wind, and spasms.
The body requires one of several specific digestive enzymes in order to digest most foods. An absence or deficiency in any of these vital digestive enzymes causes a reaction similar to that found in lactose intolerant individuals, so much so that the British Allergy Foundation identifies enzyme deficiencies as a common cause of food intolerances.
#2 – Liver Disease
Studies have shown that individuals with liver disease are four to six times more likely to develop an intolerance to gluten, and Celiac disease (the autoimmune reaction to dietary gluten). On the flipside, individuals with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two to six times more likely to develop liver disease.
This clearly links an intolerance to gluten with the development of liver disease, and vice versa. If you have gluten sensitivity (or full blown Celiac disease) it’s well worth getting your liver function checked to ensure your intolerance isn’t being caused by your liver.
#3 – Naturally Occurring Histamine
Sensitivity to histamine is quite common. Allergy medication contains antihistamines that work to combat histamines when they enter your system, preventing the reaction in the immune system that causes symptoms of an allergic reaction. But histamine is also found in the gut, where it regulates physiological function and acts as a neurotransmitter. Some foods contain histamine naturally (such as fish, which can accumulate histamine if it hasn’t been properly stored), causing something similar to an allergic reaction when that food is consumed. Anyone with a sensitivity to histamine could present symptoms ranging from abdominal cramps and sinus issues, to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and (in extreme cases) anaphylaxis.
#4 – Leaky Gut
Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) is a common cause of food intolerances. When the lining of our digestive tracts becomes porous and inflamed, undigested foods, yeast, bacteria, and other toxins are able to get through the gut wall and into our bloodstream, which should be sterile. In response to this, our immune systems attack the toxins, causing inflammation throughout the body. Leaky gut is extremely common and causes heartburn, wind, bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhoea. Due to the damage in the gut and the passage of undigested food into the blood stream, the body starts to react to the presence of particular foods – in particular gluten.
#5 – Parasites
Your food intolerances could also be caused by parasites infecting your intestines. Parasitic infection causes inflammation which increases the permeability of your small intestines, leading to the same problems that come with Leaky Gut (see above).
You can book an appointment with us today or call Kate on 07951 740423 to discuss your symptoms and find out how we can help you.