Food intolerances are hypersensitivities or the inability to digest the chemical components of a certain food that are non-life threatening. We often hear of people being lactose intolerant, which is the most common food intolerance, and this occurs when the digestive system cannot break down lactose (a sugar compound found in dairy products). In other cases, we are not always sensitive to the foods themselves, but the additives and other chemical ingredients found within them. Caffeine is a great example of a chemical found in many of our food sources that stimulate a hypersensitive response. Others include artificial colourings and flavourings, sweeteners, MSG, preservatives, etc.
What Causes Food Intolerances?
Food intolerances don’t happen suddenly, but many different factors contribute to this condition over time such as:
1. Lack of enzyme production
2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
3. Food Poisoning (toxins that cause severe hypersensitivity symptoms)
4. Sensitivity to Food Additives
5. Stress or Psychological Factors
6. Celiac Disease
Physical Awareness and Food Intolerance Symptoms
It is important to be aware of your body and how certain foods make you feel after you eat them. I have attached an infographic below of the systemic symptoms of food intolerances you should keep in mind during your next meal. These symptoms can significantly affect your performance and can cause you to be unproductive and uncomfortable throughout the day. Also keep in mind that intolerances can be mistaken for food allergies, which are life-threatening and sometimes have immediate reactions. Be sure to visit your doctor and get tested either through a skin test or blood test.
I find that nutrition in itself is too heavily focused on eating a balanced diet by following the food guides and getting the proper serving amounts. Nutrition is way too complex to only be defined by how often and how much you eat. Nutrition is a science. We need to be aware of the substances we put into our body and the chemical reactions we are creating from within. Eating foods that give us energy or assist with cell growth are positive reactions and eating foods that cause mood swings or low blood sugar are negative reactions. Food intolerance symptoms are also an opportunity to improve other areas of your life that may be the cause altogether. Reflect on your stress levels and your eating patterns and make the appropriate changes as you see fit. Holistic nutrition is a field that is has started to receive some attention for its premise of eating healthy for our own individual bodies, however it is not formally recognized outside of Canada.
Nutrition is way too complex to only be defined by how often and how much you eat.
You can be nutrition conscious by reading the ingredients on food labels, undergoing a food allergy test, keeping track of how certain foods make you feel in a journal, try new alternatives to your favourite foods, avoid overeating or eating the same foods often, making your own meals so you know how they are prepared, and detoxing regularly.