Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

Food intolerance occurs when our bowels lose the ability to digest a particular type of food. The inability to digest can happen as our bowels get older. Learn more...

Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

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Do you have chronic stomach cramping, gas pains, bloating, or diarrhea? Does your food seem to go right through you after you eat? If so, you should see your doctor and make sure you don’t have a more serious medical condition. However, let’s say you have seen your physician, and they haven’t found anything seriously wrong. Could it be a food allergy? Should you get allergy testing? Well, before you see an Allergist, first consider food intolerance as the root of your symptoms.

Food intolerance occurs when our bowels lose the ability to digest a particular type of food. The inability to digest can happen as our bowels get older. For an unknown reason, our digestive system stops producing the enzymes needed to digest certain foods. So the bacteria in our intestines digest the food instead. Bacteria create gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, there are no accurate medical tests that confirm which food is causing the symptoms (1). It is just trial and error, cutting out certain foods and seeing if you feel better.

But how do you know your symptoms are not from a food allergy? A food allergy can cause stomach symptoms, but there are usually other symptoms like hives, throat swelling/itching, trouble breathing, heart racing, and dizziness. If you have any of these symptoms, then you should get allergy testing. Otherwise, try ruling out a food intolerance first.

Which foods should you try cutting out? Start with foods you suspect. Cut them out one at a time, each for a few weeks, and see which one feels better to you. Try cutting out all suspicious foods at once and then add them back in one at a time, but that is often hard to do. Here are some typical food intolerances you could start removing from the diet:

  • Lactose (dairy) 
  • Fructose (e.g., high fructose corn syrup)
  • Gluten
  • An excessive amount of insoluble fiber
  • Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs): FODMAPs are certain types of sugars that some people don’t digest well. They are found in several different types of foods (2). You can see which types of foods are high in FODMAPs, by clicking here:

https://med.virginia.edu/ginutrition/wp-content/uploads/sites/199/2018/05/Low_FODMAP_Diet_12.16.pdf

If you need help with a food allergy, please contact our office at 801-798-7301.

David Beckstead,

Canyon View Medical Group

 

Sources:

  1. Moshiree, B. Rao S. Up-To-Date diagnosis and management of IBS and chronic constipation in primary care. Supplement to Journal of Family Practice. Vol 70, No 1 Suppl. Jan/Feb 2021.
  2. Commins, S. P. 

Food intolerance and food allergy in adults: An overview. UpToDate. Accessed on 3/12/21 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/food-intolerance-and-food-allergy-in-adults-an-overview?search=food%20intolerance&sectionRank=1&usage_type=default&anchor=H374023795&source=machineLearning&selectedTitle=1~150&display_rank=1#H2655247307

 

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