What You Need To Know About Food Intolerance
Athira Krishnadas

Athira Krishnadas

Aug 29Nutrition

What You Need To Know About Food Intolerance

Have you ever enjoyed a great meal just to find yourself feeling uneasy a while later? I have! (not once, but a handful of times). Until recently, I wasn’t sure why because it certainly wasn’t a food allergy - I knew that if I were allergic to something, the reaction would have been much worse. It’s a good thing that I spoke to a nutritionist to understand what could possibly be causing this issue. I explained to her my symptoms, the foods that I ate and the doubts that I had. That’s when I realised that I may be ‘intolerant’ to certain foods. 

So what’s food intolerance? 

When you are intolerant to certain foods, your body has a tough time trying to digest them. This can then make you feel uneasy and present itself through symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Despite the presence of these symptoms, folks often tend to overlook them. But why is that so? 

‘These symptoms are usually mild to moderate, causing people to often ignore it’ says Mrinmoyee Sinha - a body-positive nutritionist at Proactive For Her. The key is to understand that your body is still sensitive to these foods and it is always best to avoid them to ensure your wellness in the long run. 

Is Food intolerance the same as a food allergy? 

Most people tend to use these terms interchangeably, but in reality, they are quite different. A food allergy affects your immune system while a food intolerance affects your digestive system. When you have a food allergy, it can often be clear that you have it. A true food allergy can attack your immune system causing symptoms that can be life-threatening. Food intolerance on the other hand primarily affects just the digestive system causing milder symptoms. So this means that there’s a good chance you can consume foods that you are intolerant to in mindful quantities - and be alright! The catch is, to do this you still need to know the foods you are intolerant to.

What are the symptoms one should watch out for? 

If you are intolerant to certain foods, you may start to experience symptoms as soon as the food makes its way through the digestive tract - this means that you will likely experience the following symptoms within a few hours of having your food.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas and bloating
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

How is food intolerance diagnosed?

Food intolerances are more common than we think. For example, it is estimated that up to 68% of the world population could have some degree of lactose intolerance. The best way to know if you are intolerant or allergic to certain foods is by getting a blood test. Our team at Proactive For Her put together a food intolerance test that checks for over 200+ foods including a comprehensive set of dairy products, fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals and much more. This is a test that helps measure your body’s immune response to certain foods. A higher than normal IgG reactivity could indicate a possibility that your symptoms could be caused by a specific food. The test will categorise foods into “elevated”, “borderline” and “normal” based on the antibody reaction that was detected. Our nutritionist can then work with you to tailor a diet plan for you accordingly.

How do you manage your food intolerance? 

While getting tested is your first step, the crucial step is to learn to plan your meals according to your test results. The best way forward is to speak with a body-positive nutritionist to help you understand the essential nutrients your body needs, tweak your diet respectively, learn great alternatives to foods you may be intolerant to and most importantly, be consistent with it.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.