By Justinne Lou Go, RND
WE ALL know food is a basic need for nourishment and survival. However, not all foods are created equal. Although food in its natural form is most beneficial for us, even food that is considered healthy can possibly cause discomfort and harm to our bodies.
Apparently, we all have differences in the way we metabolize certain food. This means that there are particular food items that our bodies do not recognize and so these are not digested well, causing a range of symptoms that can differ from one person to another. And oftentimes, these symptoms can be quite subtle or because they have become part of our daily lives, they can often go unnoticed.
Since eating is the most inflammatory thing we do every day, this means that our eating has a high potential of triggering our immune system every day. When we eat certain food that our bodies do not recognize as friendly to our system, it triggers the release of antibodies (think of them as soldiers of our immune system unit) to remove these “invaders” from our system.
However, if we have a compromised immune system (due to poor diet, environmental factors, unhealthy lifestyle), the antibody complexes can build up in body tissues due to the inefficiency of our immune system to remove these complexes from our bodies. When the antibody complexes build up, it causes inflammation which then manifests in symptoms that can affect different parts of the body — acne, anxiety, constipation, bloatedness, being unable to concentrate long enough when you need to, etc.
With food intolerance and a compromised immune system, the inflammation may extend beyond normal clearing, leading to chronic (long-term) inflammation — the same inflammation that leads to the development and progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc.
Do you tend to have migraines or feel bloated and constipated after eating a certain food? Do you have difficulty losing weight despite all your efforts on diet and exercise? These could be some symptoms of food intolerance.
One or several of these symptoms may be experienced by an individual and the symptoms can vary from one individual to another just as one person’s diet is different from the other.
But first of all, it’s important to note that food intolerance is totally different from food allergy. Both food allergy and food intolerance trigger an immune response by the body but have significantly different effects and severity. Only 2 percent of the population suffer from food allergies while more than 45 percent of the population suffer from some form of food intolerance.
Food allergy or the Type 1 allergy is the widely known adverse food reaction when one consumes his/her food triggers, manifesting with immediate reactions such as rashes, swelling of the face, difficulty in breathing and even anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. It triggers the IgE antibodies which is the antibody that is tested to diagnose this type of adverse food reaction. For food allergies, food triggers must be avoided throughout one’s lifetime.
On the other hand, food intolerance or the Type III allergy is a food reaction that triggers the IgG antibody. Symptoms of food intolerances can be gradual, subtle and develop after several hours or days, hence, the difficulty in identifying the food triggers. The good news about food intolerances is that these can be reversed or reduced by the elimination of food triggers for a certain period. (The table summarizes the differences between food intolerance and food allergy.)
Food intolerances may not be as life-threatening as food allergies, but it definitely has a role in contributing to suboptimal health if it goes unaddressed. Fortunately, a food intolerance test is now available in the country. To my knowledge, only Metro Manila and Cebu are offering this test. In Cebu City, you may inquire with The Sensible Spoon Co. Their contact detail is +63 905-470-4393.
In the second part of this food incompatibility series, I will be expounding on the Food Intolerance Test and its corresponding management involving the Elimination Diet, so watch for it!