Many people experience unpleasant reactions after eating certain foods. Difficulty with digestion can lead to symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, skin hives and excess mucus. Food intolerance (or food sensitivity) is distinguishable from allergies because they are not autoimmune and therefore cannot be fatal, however, they are uncomfortable all the same. Common food intolerances include wheat, dairy, MSG, alcohol and caffeine.
If you think you may be experiencing food intolerance, the first step is to keep a diary of foods you have been eating around the time your symptoms occur. Following this, or if you are experiencing a particularly strong reaction, it may also be helpful to consult with your GP. There are no specific tests for food intolerances, but Midland Health can offer expert guidance after taking a comprehensive medical history on elimination diets, and other ways to manage food intolerances in your day-to-day life.
Food Intolerance Symptoms
Food intolerance is hard to diagnose as it manifests itself with several general symptoms that could be caused by a number of different conditions. These symptoms appear within a few hours of eating the food you are sensitive to and may include:
- Bloating, stomach ache, wind and/or diarrhoea
- Itchy skin, hives and rashes
As you can see, these symptoms are not uncommon and could be caused by another condition, such as stress, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. They could also be symptomatic of certain food allergies that can be tested for here at Midland Health.
Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy
When eating certain foods seems to cause an unwanted reaction, it may be hard to distinguish between a food allergy and food intolerance. Here are some of the main differences to help you understand what each of these means for your health:
- A food allergy triggers an immune response while food sensitivity doesn’t
- Food allergies can be life-threatening, whereas a food sensitivity never is
- Severe food allergies can cause an immediate reaction to the food ingested whereas symptoms of food intolerance only appear a few hours later
- When you are allergic, you only need to ingest a small amount of the food to cause a reaction whereas, with food intolerance, you need to have larger quantities to experience any symptoms
Food Intolerance Causes
Food intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to digest certain foods. This can be caused by the lack of enzymes needed for digestion or by sensitivity to chemicals and additives commonly found in some food products. Here are some of common food sensitivities and some products they can be found in:
- Lactose: Milk, yoghurt, cheese & other dairy products
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Sauces, dressings, crisps & other products
- Caffeine: Coffee, energy drinks, Coca Cola, Pepsi & more
- Alcohol: All alcoholic beverages
- Artificial sweeteners: Soft drinks, candy, sweeteners, jams & other sweet products
- Histamine: Pickled vegetables, cured meats mushrooms, Quorn & more
- Contaminants: Bacteria, viruses, toxins, or parasites that have accidentally entered the food
- Preservatives: Bread, cereals, crisps and other packaged foods
- Artificial food colouring: Ice creams, cakes, chewing gum, popcorn & more
- Flavour enhancers: Nuts, spices, fruits and more
To find what exactly is the cause of your discomfort after eating certain foods, book an appointment with one of our GPs to discuss your concerns.
Food Intolerance Diagnosis
As there is no definitive test for food sensitivity, our medical team will use a trial elimination diet to uncover any food intolerance reaction patterns and your sensitivity levels. This approach involves removing and reintroducing certain foods into your diet in a controlled manner to find what causes your symptoms and what quantities of the food in question trigger your body’s reaction.
It could be helpful to keep a food diary and bring it to your GP appointment. A food diary should include what foods cause symptoms, what those symptoms are and how long after eating the food they occur. This information could be highly valuable to our specialist when investigating your case.
If food allergy rather than food sensitivity is suspected to have caused the symptoms, here at Midland Health, we offer allergy testing in Birmingham, Liverpool and Leicester for a number of food allergies, including:
Food Intolerance Treatment
There is no cure for food intolerance. However, the condition can be managed successfully so that it doesn’t affect your lifestyle. If you are sensitive to a certain food, the best way to manage your symptoms is to avoid the products you are sensitive to. You can find out whether a certain product could trigger your food intolerance symptoms by checking the food labels.
It’s important to know that completely removing certain foods from your diet can cause nutritional deficiencies and have a negative impact on your overall health. At Midland Health, we can help you design a healthy balanced diet that offers your body the supply of nutrients it needs all while avoiding the unpleasant symptoms of food sensitivity.
Why choose Midland Health
At Midland Health, we believe that everyone deserves quick and easy access to excellent medical care, so we offer a simple and straightforward system that allows for booking appointments on short notice (even same-day appointments based on availability).
Our modern clinics are conveniently located throughout the Midlands in major cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Leicester. Come in and see us for a face-to-face consultation and put your mind at ease by finding the answers to your health questions.
With years of experience in dealing with diagnosing and treating food intolerances, our team of GPs will support you and help you find the best solution to your problem.
How do I get tested for food intolerance?
There are no food intolerance tests but there are blood tests that can tell you whether you have a food allergy. If a food allergy is ruled out, you can discuss various food sensitivity dieting options with your doctor.
Which is the best food sensitivity test?
The best way to test whether you have a food intolerance, as well as its severity, is to use a trial elimination diet supervised by your doctor.
What is the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance?
A food allergy causes an autoimmune reaction and can be deadly whereas food sensitivities can only cause non-life-threatening symptoms, such as tummy pain, bloating and itchy skin.
What are the most common food intolerances?
Some of the most common food sensitivities are lactose, coffee, wheat and artificial additives, preservatives, flavouring and colouring.
- Food Allergy Blood Test (covers the 9 main food allergens) - £227*
- Full food and inhalants Allergy Blood Test (covers more than 45 allergens) - £460*
- Phlebotomy Appointment - £35
- Standard GP Consultation (30 min) - £120
- Express GP Consultation (15 min) - £60
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