Food Intolerance: What You Need To Know

A big part of our well-being depends on what we eat. Food impacts our physical, health, energy levels, mood, and sleep. Having any kind of food intolerance could be a secret culprit in making you feel slightly off to extremely sick. Fortunately, with simple tests, we’re able to detect food intolerances, tackle them, and get you feeling your best at all times.

What is food intolerance?

On the basic level, food intolerances cause a person to have difficulty digesting or breaking down certain foods. During digestion, food is broken down into components that pass harmlessly from the gut into the bloodstream. Sometimes your immune system might detect food particles in the bloodstream as foreign and responds by making antibodies to these foods.
An overloaded immune system might ultimately cause chronic inflammation and symptoms. These can be hard to discover especially as many of the symptoms of an intolerance mimic other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Intolerance vs allergy

The main difference between an intolerance and an allergy is that food intolerances mostly involve digestive system reactions and allergies involve immune system reactions. Allergies also tend to be very fast reactions, happening within 2 hours. Food intolerance reactions can take up to three days to manifest themselves.
Whilst food allergies remain rather rare, occurring in around 1% of the adult population, food intolerances are very common. Nearly everyone will have experienced an unpleasant reaction to something they ate at some point.
Food allergies can occur when even a relatively small amount of the food is ingested whilst a food intolerance can be dose-dependent. Many people can tolerate a small amount of food but the more they eat the stronger they react.

Some of the common symptoms of food intolerance include:
· Nausea
· Stomach pain
· Gas, cramps, or bloating
· Vomiting
· Heartburn
· Diarrhoea
· Headaches
· Irritability or nervousness

Reasons for food intolerance

There are multiple reasons for developing a food intolerance and it could happen at any age.

Leaky Gut
Top of the list is increased gut permeability (leaky gut). This can lead to undigested foods being able to cross the gut wall where they then cause an inflammatory response as the body is unable to recognize them. Valeo Wellbeing coaches are all trained to improve gut permeability, restore gut function and reduce the chances of developing food intolerances.

Natural lack of enzymes
Some of us simply lack certain enzymes that allow us to digest certain foods, for example, lactose (a sugar found in milk) intolerance (caused by the absence of the lactase enzyme) is thought to affect 65% of the world’s population.

Certain processed food ingredients and additives such as sweeteners, colorants, and flavor enhancers commonly cause many of us to have issues. Gluten (a wheat protein) contained in foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, and pasta can also be an issue for many of us.

Type of food preparation
A lot of your food intolerance could depend on how the food is produced in the first instance. Many who struggle to eat bread in their home country can tolerate it just fine as they holiday in France. People who cannot tolerate shop-bought bread are just fine when eating a home-baked loaf. It can’t be overlooked that food production relies heavily on extending shelf life and improving product stability. Stabilizers can be added and many people are likely reacting to those rather than the food itself.

Detecting and managing food intolerance

Testing, exclusion diets, and working with a knowledgeable coach may all help to identify the problem and provide long-term, sustainable solutions.

Certainly, enhancing gut health is a great place to start. At Valeo, we don’t want to spend too much time telling you what you can’t do. We’d rather help you to discover what you can do. Our coaches use intolerance testing to learn more about your digestive health, and would rather not restrict your diet, but use the data they have to enhance it.