How to know if you are food intolerant?

Food intolerance - comic

It’s quite simple: if you are intolerant to something and you eat it, you will feed bad. That’s it, you know! It’s not complicated, no need to write a whole article about that.

What about when you feel crap after a big meal with alcohol, peanuts, bread, cheese, eggs, oil, sugar…? What’s the conclusion? And was it the lunch or the diner of the day before that put you upside down? Or maybe just both? How long does it take after eating before you get any symptom? And what symptoms exactly? How long does it last?

OK, it’s definitely worth a whole article!

First, does food intolerance concern you?

According to the British Allergy Foundation1 : “The latest surveys show that the rates of allergy are increasing throughout the world, affecting up to 30-35% of people at some stage in their lives.”

So, if you’re too tired too often, you might just be food intolerant. And honestly, it would be stupid not to investigate that, just because you’re slack or lazy. Now that you know, you have no more excuses!

Food intolerance or food allergy?

The difference is not within the food: it’s about how your body reacts to it. For allergies, the immune system is going to produce antibodies in order to destroy what it thinks is pathogen (harmful). So we are allergic because the immune system is aiming at the wrong target.

Food intolerance is not about the immune system, and cannot be detected by the presence of antibodies. Food intolerance involves the metabolism: enzyme deficiencies, disruptions or malabsorption. It’s during the digestion that something goes wrong.

If you are very allergic to something, it’s easy: symptoms will manifest within minutes: red eyes, swollen lips, red blotches, or else.

But for intolerance or smaller allergies, symptoms are more complicated: they come late (from 2 hours up to 3 days), they are usually less obvious (fatigue, weakness, anxiety, head aches, pains) and they may also last longer. So you will definitely need method in order to identify them!

food intolerance exhausted quiche - comic

Why those intolerances / allergies ?

Many elements can trigger those food intolerances and allergies. Particularly, the lack of diversity in food, or too much industrial products (additives, preservatives), alcohol, intestines or immune system disruptions, stress, genetics…

If you want to be efficient, you need to review your situation: what do you eat? what do you drink? are you undergoing some stress? etc. Maybe you can already find some clues.

Sadly, you can also have a very healthy way of living and still suffering from food intolerance. So let’s continue.

What are the symptoms?

First problem: the symptoms may vary from a food to another, but also from a person to another. Combinations are too many and diagnostics are very complicated.

So, bad news, you’ll have to work and write down all your symptoms. Nobody can do it for you. And nobody cares as much as you do. You only can notice your symptoms without diminishing them, and notice their intensity. Writing them down will enable you to follow up their evolution, figure out what makes you sick or what makes you feel better.

After how long will the symptoms appear?

Second problem: symptoms may appear right away, but it can also take a few hours, up to two days! So it’s really hard to know if what you are experiencing now is the result of the lunch you just had, or if it is more about yesterday’s dinner.

And sometimes symptoms are even chronic. Especially if you are intolerant to something you eat every day. Then each of your meals may feed your never-ending fatigue.

To sum up, it’s a huge mess, and it has to be dealt with! But how?

Blood tests

Some companies, like ImuPro, can test up to 270 allergies from blood samples. The most basic test is around 100 euros. If you really feel like shit and you want to speed things up, that would definitely be a fast and efficient way to get an overview of what can be wrong.

For some of us, it might look expensive (is it, considering that you could possibly recover health?). So it’s also possible to test food allergies and intolerances with the exclusion diet.

As for me, I haven’t tried those yet. I have the very bad habit of willing to discover things by myself (when possible), even if it’s much longer. And blood samples may cover allergies but they cannot diagnose any intolerance. So we have to do the exclusion diet anyway.

The exclusion diet

I eventually had too much to say about it, so I split it up into a dedicated article: everything you need to know about the exclusion diet is here.

Food intolerance is reversible

Enough with the bad news. Here is the good one: if you find a food intolerance and if you suppress it from your diet for long enough, your gut or your immune system might just fix itself and recover it’s balance. So you would possibly be able to eat it again one day!

That might not be true for everyone though, so don’t put too much hope on that one. But still, nature is pretty amazing! (when we’re willing to let it do its job)

To conclude that article, I’d like to sum up the basic rules for preventing food disorders: avoid industrial products (especially additives and preservatives), vary you food and eat natural (do not overcook).

Did you like this article? Don’t hesitate to leave a message in the comments.

  1. http://www.allergyuk.org/why-is-allergy-increasing/why-is-allergy-increasing

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