Have you ever wondered whether the stomach bloating, pain, indigestion, diarrhoea, heartburn, nausea or any other stomach problems you have, could be from a particular food you have eaten?
Food intolerance is when your tummy is sensitive to certain foods, often because your digestive system has a hard time breaking down that particular food.
To clarify however, where a food intolerance can be extremely inconvenient, a food allergy, on the other hand, is the body mistakenly believing the food is an allergen causing an immune response which many times can lead to a life threatening reaction.
Experts aren’t really sure why some people develop food intolerances. The best way to find out if you are intolerant to a certain food, is to complete an elimination diet. The low FODMAP diet developed by Monash University in Australia is one of several types of elimination protocols. You can find out more information about this diet by visiting www.monashfodmap.com
For the most part, treatment of a food intolerance involves eliminating the food that is causing the problem and managing symptoms. If you have diarrhoea, you can use loperamide to help stop your loose motions. Hyoscine tablets are available as a restricted medicine (can only be sold by a pharmacist) and are used for relieving stomach pain caused by abdominal cramps. Bloating can be treated by using Mintec which contains peppermint oil. If you have heartburn or indigestion caused by a food, try an antacid or a gel-forming sodium alginate. Since it is thought that food intolerances may stem from the body not being able to break down certain foods, for some it is helpful to add a digestive enzyme. Digestive enzymes may help with problems such as acid reflux, gas, bloating and diarrhoea. Digestive enzymes range from broad spectrum types covering many intolerances to specific enzymes that help only certain intolerances. For example, lactase enzymes help people with dairy intolerances. Check with your pharmacist which might be suitable for you.
Keeping your gut healthy is helpful. Probiotics add the good bacteria back into your digestive system. It is thought that putting these good bacteria back can help prevent new intolerances and it keeps your stomach certainly a lot happier.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of food intolerance are very similar to the symptoms of more serious conditions. Therefore, if you have any of these symptoms, check with your pharmacist or doctor first.