Intolerance or sensitivity is a hot topic in the food world these days. Food packaging is clearly in on the trend as it is common to see food labeled “gluten free,” “lactose free,” or “contains wheat.” What has brought about this trend? Why are so many people unable to eat certain types of food? It is possible that testing for these allegies and intolerances is flawed, and it is leading to overdiagnosis.
There are many types of food testing available today. Some are very unorthodox and come to conclusions that seem very hard to swallow, like eating green peppers may cause bloating and lethargy, lemons trigger headaches, or chicken may act like poison in your body.
Other non-traditional practitioners may diagnose food sensitivities by analyzing hair, assessing muscle strength, or by performing a test that assesses the body’s “energy pathways.” From these tests, patients are told what foods may be causing their troubling symptoms. Sometimes these tests are concluding that serious issues like irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune disease, and arthritis are being caused by particular foods.
These are tall claims and allergists and gastroenterologists are questioning these methods. Most allergists and gastroenterologists agree that food intolerances do occur from time to time, but they also agree that the tests being marketed have no scientific basis. The tests are prone to false positives and lead people to eliminate foods from their diets unnecessarily.
By Steven V. Joyal, MD, VP of Medical & Scientific Affairs at Life Extension. Life Extension has been a pioneer in funding and reporting the latest anti-aging research and integrative health therapies while offering superior-quality dietary supplements to consumers.
Feeling bloated? Gaining weight but don’t know why? Food sensitivity might be the cause. Chronic, low-level inflammation due to food sensitivity is a little-appreciated contributing factor for unwanted weight gain, along with other health conditions like fatigue, fluid retention, headache, and skin conditions.
Before we review how sensitivity to certain foods can make weight loss difficult, we need to understand the difference between food sensitivity and food allergy.
Classic food allergy occurs when certain foods trigger the immune system to release large amounts of the chemical histamine. When large amounts of histamine flood the body, a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis can occur. This potentially fatal condition causes the throat to swell, potentially cutting off the air supply to the lungs.
Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.
Calorie Count members want to know more about the mysteries of gluten. Here are some of our readers’ favorite “Ask Mary Q+A’s,” all gluten-free.
How would I know if I’m unable to tolerate gluten?
The classic signs of gluten intolerance are digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. And although not as common, not being able to tolerate gluten can also cause skin rash, joint pain, headaches, and anemia. Sometimes, gluten intolerance can actually show no obvious symptoms at all. Since there is a lot of overlap between gluten intolerance and dozens of other diseases, you should visit a doctor for evaluation if you have any concerns. You also should also consult a doctor before starting a gluten-free diet as this change can impact the test results and confound the diagnosis.
Lactose intolerance is difficult to diagnose because it has a lot of the same symptoms as milk allergies. However, while a milk allergy causes the body to react quickly, lactose intolerance is the impaired ability to digest lactose, or milk sugar, over time.
Green Valley Organics offers a line of lactose free yogurts and kefirs that you can use in some of your favorite recipes. And holiday eggnog? Well, there is no reason to miss out if you’re skipping dairy.
With the thousands and thousands of individuals suffering with food allergies, it can be hard to navigate menus or even find a restaurant where you can safely eat. I remember when I first learned that I had to avoid wheat, dairy and eggs. I was convinced I would never eat out again and avoided dinner parties with friends and family, not knowing what I would be able to eat. Many years have passed since that diagnosis and I have learned how to navigate foods to ensure I eat yummy, wholesome foods without feeling like I’m missing out. (more…)