Food Intolerances Explained

Food intolerances are a common issue that many people deal with on a daily basis. The issue is caused as a response from the digestive system and not the immune system. Connector spoke with some specialist and experts around Dubai to get more in an understanding of what food intolerances are, how to identify them and how to manage them. 

As mentioned by Dr Amal Alrifai, Clinical Dietician at Mediclinic Middle East, food intolerances are formed when the body is unable to digest specific kinds of food, due to the lack of, or absence of, the digestive enzyme present to break it down.

Another reason for food intolerances is due to stress or sensitivity to additives and colouring present in certain kinds of food, with reactions usually occurring after a period of time from consuming the food.

Some of the common food triggers are milk or lactose, gluten, soy, nuts, food additives and colours, fructose, beans, eggs and shellfish.

Food intolerances can range in severity of symptoms based on the amount of the food consumed.

Lina Doumani Khalil, Clinical Dietician at Allied Medical Center said that people with food intolerances commonly face issues like:

  • Bloating 
  • Cramps
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain 
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness 

To avoid having reactions to special food, the best change to make is by reducing the intake of the food intolerant to, to a level where it does not have an effect on the person, as mentioned by Dr Neil Philip Galletly, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at HealthBay.

If the person is more sensitive to specific kind of food, it would be best to cut the item out completely, in order to avoid reactions.

When cutting out certain types of food, it is important to remember to make sure to consume other kinds of food that have the nutrients present in the items cut out, to avoid a deficiency. 

When sensitive to various food items, it is key to talk to a dietician or a gastroenterologist to come up with a balanced diet plan, to get all the nutrients required.

Often times, food intolerances and food allergies are confused with one another. 

Lina Shibib, Clinical Nutritionist at Medcare Hospitals said that food allergies cause an immunological response in the body that can affect multiple organs.

Reactions to food allergies can go from severe, life threatening to fatal, where as reactions to food intolerances are milder reactions and are limited to stomach issues and discomfort.

Food intolerances can cause a lot of discomfort to a person and with the right care and diet can help reduce the reactions and help ease the pain felt.

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