Food Intolerances: When Your Reaction Isn’t Immune
Previous articles in this series have discussed food allergies and food sensitivities. Food allergies are immediate symptoms that occur after eating a particular food. These can be measured by IgE immune reactions in the blood. Food sensitivities are delayed reactions that occur from a few hours to days after eating a specific food. These can be measured by IgA or IgG immune reactions in the blood.
Food intolerances, on the other hand, cannot be measured in the immune system. The most well-known food intolerance is lactose intolerance to the lactose sugar molecule in milk. Another frequent food intolerance is fructose intolerance to the sugar fructose. Both lactose and fructose intolerances have tests that can help identify them, but most other food intolerances do not have tests. People have to depend on identifying patterns of negative symptoms that occur after ingesting particular foods.
I recently completed an advanced certification program called BioIndividual Nutrition. In this program I learned about problems with the biochemical processes methylation and sulfation, that some people have. When these processes are not functioning optimally then foods which contain high levels of a type of food chemicals called salicylates may cause symptoms.
Other food chemicals which can cause intolerances are amines, including histamine, and glutamates. Reactions can include hives, stomach or intestinal irritation, headaches, irritability, fatigue or behavioral issues such as ADHD. The intensity of reactions can vary based on the amount of foods eaten and how sensitive the person is.
FODMAPs are plant foods that contain fermentable carbohydrates. The term stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose) and Polylols. Some of these foods overlap with those containing salicylates. FODMAPs feed bacteria that ferment and create gas, so restricting these foods may be helpful when someone is experiencing intestinal pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation or SIBO. To determine if symptoms are coming from foods, begin keeping a diary of symptoms and the foods eaten prior to symptom onset. By using this record, a skilled nutritionist or medical professional can begin to make preliminary recommendations. Then an elimination diet is used to eliminate the questionable foods for a period of at least 4 weeks. When all symptoms have subsided then foods are added back to test for reactions.
For more information about salicylate foods click here.
For more information about amines in foods click here.
For more information about glutamates in foods click here.
For more information about FODMAP foods click here.