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Intolerance vs. Allergies: Food For Thought

Posted on June 22, 2017

Do you suffer from chronic bloating and gas? If so, you may possibly have a food intolerance.

Food intolerance occurs when your body has a problem digesting a certain type of food. There are several reasons for food intolerance: your body may not be able to produce a certain needed enzyme to break down the food, your body may be irritated by certain chemicals, or your intestines had a fight with a certain food last time you ate it and they are no longer speaking. The list goes on.

Yes, this IS different from a food allergy. While a food intolerance is uncomfortable and irritating, it is not life-threatening. A food allergy may occur if your body has recognized a certain food as an enemy and has built up antibodies against it. The result is an overreaction of the immune system that shows up as symptoms such as hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, or low blood pressure. Food intolerance (while it’s a bummer) may pass in a matter of hours, but an allergy requires immediate medication or medical attention.

If you think you may have any of these issues, here are some tips to help you prevent symptoms in the future:

  • Keep a diet journal, cataloging your food intake each day and any adverse reactions you may have. This will help you see a pattern and locate the source of your issues.
  • The most common problem foods are those containing gluten and lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and dairy products, and gluten is a protein found in wheat and grains. An enzyme called lactase is needed to break down lactose in the body, and some people do not produce enough to do this effectively. Up to 15% of people have a problem digesting gluten. These two categories are good places to start looking for the cause of your problems.
  • Elimination diets are a way of resetting your digestive system and starting over.  Once you have identified a potentially problematic food, eliminate it from your diet for a month and see if the symptoms are alleviated. Even if it is not the source of your more severe symptoms, you may find that you have more energy or feel better excluding a certain food from your diet.
  • If you are experiencing allergic reaction symptoms, make an appointment with the experts at Grand Rapids Allergy for skin and blood tests to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Life is too precious to waste time worrying about adverse food reactions. At Grand Rapids Allergy, doctors are waiting to help you get out and enjoy summer food and fun!

Grand Rapids Allergy has served the west Michigan area for over 40 years. We’re working to treat allergies at the root level with personalized treatment plans based on your unique allergy profile.

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