Food intolerance is a digestive enzymatic deficit. In other words, it occurs when the body lacks the enzyme responsible for metabolizing a certain food. Therefore, the body is not able to digest it and it can cause digestive problems that are bothersome and in the long term have a negative impact on the health and quality of life of the person who suffers from it.
Food intolerance should not be confused with food allergy. An allergy is a response of the immune system to an ingested food and causes a rapid reaction, being very dangerous to health since, for example, it can cause difficulty in breathing and require urgent medical help. In some cases, it is even sufficient to eat a small amount.
Food intolerance: the 2 most common
It is the affection of the intestinal mucosa due to the fact that the organism does not produce lactase -which is the enzyme in charge of metabolizing lactose-, either totally or partially. In mammals, after the end of the lactation stage, we experience a decrease in lactase production.
In societies that do not consume dairy products, this decline is greater. On the other hand, in those that do consume them, a mutation occurs in a chromosome that allows the correct absorption of lactose, but not in all cases. For this reason, the prevalence of lactose intolerance worldwide varies depending on the ethnicity and predisposition of the individual.
It is a permanent intolerance to gluten from wheat, barley, rye and oats, but we must differentiate celiac disease from gluten sensitivity. It is believed that it is a combination of several factors that produce this intolerance: genetic predisposition to suffer from it, combined with the consumption of foods containing gluten, in addition to other factors for which the cause is unknown. The food we eat during childhood, gastrointestinal infections and the state of the intestinal microbiota can also contribute to its development.
The most common food intolerances are those related to gluten and lactose, but people intolerant to fructose, sucrose and histamine are increasing.
Symptoms of food intolerance
- Bad digestion
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Intestinal malabsorption
- Skin problems
- Neurological problems
- Endocrine problems
Some of the symptoms, if prolonged over time, can become a real burden for the person suffering from food intolerance. For example, in the case of suffering from the symptom of intestinal malabsorption, the intestine is unable to obtain certain sugars, fats, proteins or vitamins from food. Therefore, over time it can lead to certain problems such as anemia or deficiency of essential vitamins for the proper functioning of the body.
Detection and treatment for food intolerance
Today the detection of a food intolerance is easier than years ago, since there are specific tests for it. But be careful, because there are certain tests that are capable of analyzing whether a person is intolerant to a large number of foods in a few minutes and, according to the scientific community, not all of them are reliable or rigorous.
Depending on the particular case of each individual, this detection may take more time, as there are certain intolerances that are not easy to detect with a test and must be checked more carefully. If you think you may be suffering from a food intolerance, it is advisable to consult an endocrinologist and allergist for a more in-depth study and verify that it is a food intolerance and not any other pathology.
Normally, the treatment of food intolerance is based on permanently removing the food that causes it. But this is not always the case, depending on the type and origin, a temporary withdrawal of the food is made, readapting the diet to the needs of the case and sometimes adding treatment. Once stabilized, the food in question is introduced in small doses, observing the effects it has and controlling it on a regular basis, until it can be taken normally or almost normally.
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