Food Intolerance

25 July 2017

Food intolerance, delayed effects

A big difference between food allergies and food intolerances

Affliction of our century, food intolerances affect more and more people. Almost 20% of the world’s population will be affected at one time or another in his/her life by intolerance to a certain food or foods.
It is therefore important to distinguish food intolerance from food allergy. We tend to confuse the two as the cause remains the same, namely the ingestion of food; the allergic mechanism and the consequences it engenders do not have the same effect and the same impact, even if allergy and intolerance will undoubtedly change the patient’s eating habits.

In fact, a food allergy involves the production of antibodies, therefore an almost immediate reaction of the immune system (physical manifestation: pimples …), the reaction can be very serious (angioedema that leads to life-threatening situations, the respiratory tract being blocked by both the allergic reaction and the swelling).

In the case of food intolerance, one’s metabolism is involved. The body is unable to properly digest a certain food or a component of that food.
The food intolerance also involves hypersensitivity.

This is also what distinguishes it from the food allergy, as an allergic patient cannot eat the food he/she is allergic to without the occurrence of the allergic reaction, while the intolerant patient can perfectly deal with the ingestion of small doses of this food without the occurrence of symptoms.

Less dramatic than food allergy when it comes to symptoms (the food intolerance causes digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain but also headaches, skin problems, rheumatism ….) This is also why the patient may ignore it, mistaking these disorders for a digestive abnormality or for a passing and benign health concern.

This is an ongoing disease because it is triggered by the repeated ingestion of the food at doses normally supported by people without food intolerance, which makes it even more difficult to identify the damning food.

The various food intolerances and their symptoms

Please note that these small everyday problems triggered by these intolerances complicate the lives of patients before the diagnosis but also after the diagnosis because they represent a real dietary change (in supermarkets, at the restaurant …) and secondly, they do not make you suspect a food intolerance immediately, as it is very difficult to diagnose.
We distinguish some large groups:

  • Lactose intolerance which is the most common especially in children. It means a too low production of lactase (an enzyme that has the role to break down lactose into simple sugars) too low in the small intestine, which then generates a lactose accumulation in the large intestine where digestive symptoms occur (diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal cramps, vomiting …). Food expulsion then allows a gradual regulation of the intestinal flora. Like any other intolerance, the amount of dairy products consumed that causes symptoms varies from individual to individual.
    Please note that a person who is lactose intolerant can eat dairy products, especially fermented milk products and hard cheeses, products where lactose is currently little-used.
  • Gluten intolerance (or coeliac disease) is increasing, more people are being affected by this intolerance that greatly complicates the patient’s life. In fact, gluten, a protein, is present in a multitude of foods consumed daily: wheat, barley, rye, pasta, bread, beer, many precooked dishes … In fact, the patient sees, over years and when eating foods with gluten, his/her small intestine damaged, it does no longer support this protein, hence the symptoms, primarily intestinal symptoms, weight loss and tone loss. Only a very strict diet at the food eviction level, following as such a list of gluten-free foods, allows the patient to regain a quality of life, with symptoms gradually disappearing.
  • An individual can also be intolerant to foods that contain:
    • tyramine and histamine, substances found in cheeses (emmental, roquefort, camembert …), cold meats, fish (tuna, sardines, herring …), vegetables ( tomato, cabbage, beans …), fruits (raspberries, bananas, strawberries …), chocolate and cocoa, alcohol (wine, beer …)
    • glutamate, a food additive used as a flavor enhancer present (and hidden) in sauces, meat juices, spice mixes, processed products sold preserved and frozen.
    • ovalbumin found in eggs
Other symptoms?

Other symptoms may occur in food intolerant individuals, apart from the digestive disorders:

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Chronic health problems: angina, sinusitis, colds, cough …
  • Eczema
  • Sudden mood swinging (changes)
  • Eye damage (watery, swollen, reddened eyes…)

Food intolerance, multifactorial origin

The significant increase of the phenomenon throughout the world originates in various sources:

  • The number one cause remains our eating habits and specifically an irrational industrialization of our food, which urges the industrialists (in which we wrongly have blind confidence) to use cooking processes supposedly innovative, to use additives excessively … which will have consequences on our body, a body that weakens over the years.
  • Consumption of foods to which our body is not used (palm oil, GMO, fruits from other continents …)
  • Genetic and hereditary factors
  • Introduction of a too early food diversification in babies that has a dramatic effect on the immune system not prepared to deal with certain categories of foods, which explains the high incidence of food allergies in children.
  • Over disinfection of our environment from an early age; babies not getting in touch with any microbes, therefore the immune system does not have the opportunities to be faced with these external elements and thus to strengthen throughout childhood.
  • Environmental factors (cigarettes, pollution …)

Screening and treatment of food intolerances

Various screening

After a discussion with a doctor to rule out other pathologies:

  • In order to push even further the identification of problematic foods and to set a suitable diet, we recommend you to measure, by blood tests, the food anti-IgG via our partner laboratory. These IgG or immunoglobulin G are antibodies whose role is to defend the body against all external attacks and, of course, foods that cause intolerance are included. Therefore, in the case of food intolerance, it was found that the amount of IgG antibodies has significantly increased among intolerant individuals. The blood tests are used to identify the reactive foods that cause the synthesis of IgG and therefore are responsible for the intolerance. One must eliminate them from the patient’s eating habits especially when it is known that the presence of IgG in the body may be responsible for complex immune diseases and other less serious pathologies but just as debilitating as indigestion, bloating, migraines, eczema …
  • We recommend you to detect lactose intolerance by blood testing to measure the level of glucose in the blood after having eaten a predefined amount of lactose. (A rate that increases in case of intolerance)
  • We recommend you to perform a genetic test for lactose intolerance by cell extraction from the cheek by swabbing. (painless)
  • In order to confirm gluten intolerance, we recommend you to measure the tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG IgA), immunoglobulin A endomysial (EMA IgA), immunoglobulin A gliadin (AGA IgA) and immunoglobulin A serum (total IgA) in the blood.
  • We recommend you to perform a genetic typing to search for specific genes, HLA DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes characteristic of gluten intolerance.
  • It is possible to detect lactose intolerance by a hydrogen test (Hydrogen Breath Test) which consists in measuring the amount of hydrogen exhaled by the patient both before and after the consumption of lactose; a high hydrogen rate indicates this type of intolerance.
  • Urinalysis is also used to detect gluten intolerance, it is called peptiduria<
  • Biopsy of the small intestine can finally confirm gluten intolerance
A simple and single treatment

Once diagnosed, the most effective treatment remains the introduction of a diet without food or foods causing intolerance, a diet to be followed by the patient, often for life, where no deviations are allowed.

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