Food Intolerances

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances

What is a food intolerance?

Food intolerance involves an inability to digest a food, but does not involve the immune system. Common symptoms are related to the gastrointestinal tract and include bloating, irregular bowel habits, constipation/diarrhoea, nausea and stomach pains. Some people may also experience other symptoms such as headaches, hives/itchiness, wheezing or a runny nose. These symptoms do not involve the immune system and are generally not life threatening. Symptoms vary and can be experienced immediately/hours/days after consuming particular foods.

The most common food intolerances include;

  • Lactose – Commonly found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance results from a lack of the enzyme ‘lactase’ needed to digest lactose.
  • Fructose – In fructose malabsorption, the small bowel has difficulty in absorbing fructose, and as a result, the fructose moves through to the large intestine unabsorbed. Fructose is found in various fruits/vegetables, wheat and honey.
  • FODMAPs – Along with Fructose and Lactose, many people suffer from malabsorption of other carbohydrates grouped together by the term FODMAPs. FODMAPs include Fructose, Lactose, Fructans, Galactans and Polyols (Sorbitol).

What is a food allergy?

Food allergies are immune-mediated responses, also known as anaphylaxis, potentially exhibiting life-threatening symptoms. Anaphylactic attacks produce symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, tongue and throat, plus difficulty breathing, vomiting and loss of consciousness.

The most common food allergens include:

    • Crustaceans.
    • Eggs.
    • Fish.
    • Milk.
    • Peanuts.
    • Soybeans.
    • Tree nuts.
    • Sesame seeds.
    • Gluten/wheat.

How can PPN dietitians help with food intolerances and food allergies?

Our dietitians can assist in reducing unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms from food intolerances and also educate about food allergens in our diets. Our dietitians can often recognise food intolerance issues by conducting a full dietary assessment as well as identifying trigger foods. We can also provide education on a low FODMAP diet to control symptoms, with the aim of reintroducing and challenging foods back into the diet to find patients individual tolerance levels maximise food variety. We can also provide advice on natural gut irritants and recommend probiotics to help improve intestinal microflora and gut health.