What is Dietary Intolerance?
Dietary intolerance, also called food intolerance, describes difficulty digesting certain foods and having negative physical reactions to them. Common foods that are associated with food intolerance include milk, gluten, sulfites, food colorings, preservatives, caffeine and fructose.
Symptoms of dietary intolerance usually include:
- Stomach pain.
- Excessive gas.
- Skin rashes.
- Runny nose.
- A general feeling of malaise.
While it is often unclear why an individual is sensitive to certain foods, it may be linked to certain intolerances such as lactose or wheat intolerances. Other culprits may be food additives, chemicals or contaminants that are located in food items.
Oftentimes, food intolerances are confused with food allergies; however, they are different in many ways. Food intolerance is a digestive system response that occurs when food irritates the digestive system or when someone cannot properly break down their food. It usually causes symptoms that occur gradually after eating the problem food. A food allergy is an immune system response caused when the body mistakenly identifies an ingredient as harmful. It often occurs with particular foods including fish and shellfish, nuts, milk or eggs. In some cases, food allergies can be dangerous and life-threatening.
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How are Dietary Intolerances Diagnosed?
An elimination diet is a great way to determine which foods cause your symptoms. Keeping a food diary to note which foods you eat, your symptoms after eating these foods and when your symptoms occur can help pinpoint problem foods. Try excluding foods you suspect are causing problems one at a time and observe the effects. It is best to cut out the suspected food for 2-6 weeks. Then, reintroduce the food to see if your symptoms return.
If you do not find that any specific food is causing your symptoms through an elimination diet, your doctor may recommend certain tests to rule out irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease or a food allergy.
Treatment Options for Dietary Intolerance
Treatment for dietary intolerance involves avoiding or reducing your intake of trigger foods. Some people may be able to reintroduce the specific food in small quantities while monitoring how much can be tolerated without causing symptoms. You may also need to treat associated symptoms such as heartburn or stomachache through medication.
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At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Dietary Intolerance or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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