A few years back, it would be rare that you would see gluten free, low sugar or vegan options on a café or restaurant menu. Nowadays, there are even specialty vegan, Paleo and gluten free cafes that cater for individual’s dietary requirements and preferences. Welcome to the age of dietary intolerance and allergies – individual dietary specificity that is only likely to grow in need and popularity.
The range of food allergies and intolerances individuals can present with is wide an increasing. Allergies differ from intolerances as they involve activation of blood protein called, Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which reacts to the substance an individual is allergic too, most commonly proteins in foods such as nuts, fish, eggs or dairy. Allergies can develop over time, but are most commonly identified in childhood and can range in severity. Food intolerances on the other hand, are chemical reactions in the body and can feature a range of symptoms including bloating, constipation, rashes, headaches and difficulty breathing.
Food allergies and intolerances are both on the increase, a result of an increase in autoimmune conditions in general and also better identification and diagnosis.
While allergies are generally managed in conjunction with medical experts, food intolerances on the other hand can be more difficult to identify and manage on a day to day basis as symptoms may be vague, sporadic and the specific food triggers difficult to identify.
A number of different symptoms may suggest specific food intolerances. Bloating and gas 1-3 hours after meals may suggest intolerance to FODMAPS, some of the specific sugars found in some grains, fruit and vegetables. Smelly gas and diarrheoa may suggest malabsorption and can commonly be seen with lactose intolerance. Chronic constipation and gastric discomfort can be indicative of gluten and wheat intolerances.
The most important thing is that you seek the appropriate advice to properly diagnose and manage food intolerance. While gluten and wheat intolerance are commonly eliminated from many individuals diets because of a perceived intolerance, in more cases than not, it is not gluten that is the issue, rather the sugars or FODMAPS found in particular foods. For this reason, if you have been experiencing ongoing gut issues, it is imperative you consult a dietitian to have these gut issues properly managed rather than eliminating random food groups, which may have health implications long term.