What Exactly Is Food Intolerant and Food Allergy?
Food Intolerant and food allergies can affect people of any age. Common and healthy food and also cause intolerance and allergies. However, both the concepts are different and affect the body in different ways, which one must be aware of.
The immune system is like a soldier of our body that protects us from numerous illnesses caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses, along with the harmful toxins that our body encounters in the environment. What happens to food allergic people is that the immune system considers certain food items as just another environmental threat to human health. On the other hand, food intolerances do not involve the immune system. They can be caused due to an inability to digest or a body's tendency to react to certain types of food items. Let's say you have lactose intolerance; in this case, your body has a deficiency in the enzyme lactase that helps you digest milk and other dairy products. You might get a headache if you consume a strangely flavoured cheese if the body reacts to a tyramine chemical. Each human body is different from one another in its own way and in the way it reacts to certain food compounds. However, there is not any specific reason why the body reacts in such ways. No matter how hygienic the food is, the body can still react.
Now some people might think– what about food poisoning then? Food poisoning is completely different in this case. Food poisoning happens when someone eats food contaminated by bacteria, fungi, or toxins, which can lead to vomiting, and loose motions and drive them to be life-threatening as well. Understand the symptoms of food poisoning like stomach upset, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fever. If you notice such symptoms after consuming food possibly being contaminated, consult the doctor right away and take the needful medication.
What is Coeliac Disease, then? Is it similar to Food Intolerance?
Coeliac Disease is another condition where the person's body does not accept certain foods. It is an autoimmune condition where gluten exposure triggers the immune system and causes inflammation in the small intestine. It mainly develops in the early years of childhood. However, it can come out at any age.
In this condition, the autoantibodies, which means the anti-bodies against the own body's tissues, are created due to gluten exposure. These anti-bodies target the epithelial cells of the intestine, causing serious inflammation in the affected areas, particularly the jejunum. It causes atrophy of the intestine villies, which are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food passed through the bowel, leading to mal-absorption of the nutrients are symptoms of Coeliac Disease. This can be detected by a blood test, biopsy, or endoscopy. Make sure to follow the symptoms and get the checkup done as soon as possible.
- Bloating and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
If you find yourself having these symptoms after consuming gluten products, then rush to the doctor instead of going for self-medication.
Symptoms of Food Intolerant and Food Allergy
So how to know if you are intolerant to any food? Understanding the symptoms is very important to keep yourself away from such situations. The symptoms can be from mild to severe, depending upon the sensitivity of the body. Food intolerants may show symptoms like:
- stomach pain
If a person is intolerant, the symptoms and seriousness depend upon the amount of food they have consumed. It is difficult to determine whether a person is intolerant or allergic to certain foods as the symptoms are similar in both patients.
Types Of Food Causing Intolerance
- Dairy/ lactose
- Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides, And Polyols (FODMAPs)
A person can be intolerant of one or more types of food. In such cases, it becomes difficult to diagnose the reasons for sickness after eating something. It happens many times that food intolerant symptoms may be similar to that of certain chronic digestion issues. So the best way is to avoid the food if you find falling ill the number of times consuming them. Allergies can be easily diagnosed by a blood test measuring the blood's immunoglobulin E (IgE) anti-bodies count.
Out of all these, lactose and gluten intolerant are the most common. Let's discuss the types of food you must avoid and consume if you are gluten intolerant.
7 Foods To Avoid With Gluten Intolerance
Before we discuss the types of food to avoid if you are gluten intolerant, let us understand what gluten is. You might go for a food item that is gluten-free, but what is this gluten all about, and why are people slowly moving on with this new trend to avoid gluten.
Gluten is nothing but an insoluble protein composite made of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin. So, where is this gluten found? Glutens are found in certain grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Have you noticed the elastic consistency of dough? It's because of the gluten. It is also responsible for the chewy textures of the food items made from these grains like pasta, bread, and noodles. And this insoluble protein creates problems for some people when their body denies to digest it, causing gut problems and nausea. There are no treatments for this condition except for avoiding gluten-rich food.
Gluten intolerance can be detected by following the symptoms after consuming certain foods and subsequent improvement on a gluten-free diet. The reason it cannot be detected by any blood or tissue test is that it is not a single disease and might have many other possible causes. For say, gluten can activate the immune system of the small intestine. Some people may be intolerant to the sugar called fructan in wheat and other grains, not gluten. It happens when the small intestine is unable to digest, and the fructan moves to the large intestine and the colon where it is fermented by the bacteria, producing short-chain fatty acids and gases causing bowel problems in some people.
Now let's look at the food items to avoid if you are gluten intolerant-
Gluten Rich Grains
Gains that are rich in gluten are
- Barley farina
- Wheat berries
Note that oats are naturally gluten-free but sometimes, while processing might get contaminated with gluten.
Watch out for the bakery products
Wheat flour is the major ingredient of almost all bakery products. The question arises here, how will I know if a product is gluten-free or not? It is simple; some products have a gluten-free tag on them. If not, then look behind and check the ingredients used to make the product. It should not include any of the grains mentioned above and potatoes.
Snack foods are very common in gluten. Gluten intolerant people must avoid-
- candy bars
- granola bars
- cereal bars/energy bars
- snack mixes
Condiments are added to food to live and enhance the flavors or create an impact on the dish. It might not be common to hear condiments having gluten in them, but there are certain condiments that do have a good amount of gluten in them and must be avoided. They are
- gravy mixes
- cream sauces
- soy sauce
- barbecue sauce
- spice blends
- salad dressings
- malt vinegar
These are common in many dishes. However, it is recommended to check the ingredients before consuming anything as such.
Like bread, major baked products are made up of wheat flour and other gluten products. If you find you are gluten intolerant, you must go for gluten-free baked foods or avoid them completely.
- Cakes and muffins
- Waffles and pancakes
Other wheat-based dishes
There hardly is anyone on this earth who does not love pasta. Pasta is not only famous around the world but is a staple dish in many cultures. There are wide varieties of pasta, and one of them is wheat-based pasta, although there are wide other varieties of pasta that gluten intolerant people can go for. Another wheat-based famous and globally loved dish is momo or dumplings. As we know, the outer coverings of the momo or dumplings are made up of all-purpose wheat flour, which gets that chewy and soft texture. So basically, you need to avoid all these.
You might not be very much aware of this fact, but there are many drinks that are gluten rich and can potentially cause health issues; such drinks are-
- Readymade coffee drinks
- Premade chocolate milk
- Mixed drinks
When you go out to have food outside with family and friends in such a condition, it becomes pretty difficult to adjust, as restaurants hardly provide gluten-free food. Hence it is important for you to inform the waiter or request to avoid gluten substances while you place your order.
Stay away from crispy fried stuff, food infused with soy sauce, wheat starch, durum, or certain seasoning and mixes. It is daunting to survive in such conditions, as they have no treatments, but there are always alternatives available. So you can do experiments on gluten-free substances and discover your favorite dish.
Check out the food you can have with gluten intolerance and know the nutritional values as well-
7 Foods to Eat with Gluten Intolerance
Vegetables and fruits
Yes! You read that right. Being gluten intolerant does not matter because you can have vegetables and fruits happily. Remember to consume only natural and unprocessed food.
- green beans
- citrus fruits like oranges and Limetta
- berries like strawberry, blueberries, etc
- cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and
- bell peppers
- greens vegetables like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and Swiss chard
- starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with minerals and vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E, phosphorous, zinc, folic acid, and magnesium, which are great for the body. They not only keep us strong but also reduce various heart-related risks. There are countless ways you can use vegetables and fruits. All have different tastes and flavors, so you are never bored with them. Go on and make your favorite gluten-free dish with a much healthier option.
Milk and milk products
Milk or dairy products are gluten-free naturally. However, certain products get contaminated by gluten during processing. Be aware of flavored yogurts, ice creams, and processed cheese. Malted milk drinks should also be avoided.
Milk and milk products like butter and ghee, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt are great to include in a gluten-free diet.
Dairy products are loaded with calcium and healthy proteins that help the body to build up. It also supports healthy brain development in younger kids, and hence small kids are recommended to take dairy products. Yogurts and ghee can be easily made at home, so you can avoid getting processed ones.
There are more than 16,000 varieties of legumes, out of which you might have eaten a few common ones. Legumes are a type of vegetable which includes stems, leaves, and pods. Legumes like lentils and peas are naturally gluten-free and are consumed in various ways.
Red lentils, chickpeas, black beans, peas, kidney beans, and cannellini beans are a few common gluten-free legumes. If made, a regular diet can offer great health benefits like keeping the heart and blood pressure healthy. Legumes are rich in antioxidants that help our bodies fight free radicals.
You might be thinking, how come grains are on this list? Yes! There are many whole grains that can replace wheat and other gluten-rich grains. However, always remember to check the label behind the product as they can be contaminated by gluten while getting processed.
- brown rice
- wild rice
- oats (ensure they're gluten-free labeled)
Whole grains are fiber-rich and make your tummy fuller for a long time, which in return help to manage your body weight. Whole grains are also rich in antioxidants, vitamin B, and some minerals like copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium
It's not like if you are gluten intolerant, you cannot drink anything. Of course, you can; you can always go for water and dairy-based drinks like coffee and tea. You can also take alcoholic beverages like wine and hard ciders. However, be conscious about the type of beer you go for. Beer is made of hops, barley, sometimes wheat, and yeast, and wheat have gluten in then. You can go for gluten-free beers that are made up of sorghum or buckwheat. Other beverages like pure fruit juices, sports drinks, cola drinks, and lemonades are also gluten-free and can be happily enjoyed. Nevertheless, always be confirmed about the beverage being gluten-free and then enjoy to avoid any consequences.
Oils and fats
The majority of oils and fats are gluten-free and are safe for use in such cases. Oils are a base of almost every cuisine; may it be butter or canola oil, oils and fats are used everywhere. The good news is you can have them with no worries. Just make sure certain gluten-based thickeners do not contaminate them, so you can enjoy your meal without a second thought of falling ill. Cooking sprays must always be double-checked in for gluten content.
Seeds and nuts
The Seeds and nuts are rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats and loads of vitamins and minerals. Adding some seeds and nuts of any kind to the daily diet lowers the risk of heart diseases as they have to decrease the bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) level. They are also gluten-free, if not processed, and are a great way to replace gluten-based foods. You can have almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, butter pecans, sunflower seeds, peanut butter macadamia nuts, walnuts, and pistachios, and get the nutrition without putting your guts into trouble.
Ways to Keep the Gut Healthy
Gluten intolerance affects the guts and shows symptoms as such. By maintaining a healthy gut, there are chances to increase the good bacteria in the gut and lower the symptoms like constipation, bloating, and gas. You can include food rich in probiotics like curd or probiotics supplements in your daily diet, which helps to increase the good bacteria like Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium in the intestine and help in the digestion process. Studies have proved that digestive enzymes also help to digest gluten and improve digestion as well. However, always remember to consult the doctor and ask them the best way to treat yourself. Self-treatment is and must never be an option for such complicated cases. There are times when we don't know our own body and end up harming it more; hence expert advice must be a priority.
If you are gluten intolerant, life does not end here! There are varieties of ways how you can enjoy your meals in a gluten-free way. Just remember to stay away from anything that is made up of gluten-rich grains like wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and malt. As there is no specific way to eradicate this body condition, the only way that remains is to avoid such food and stay safe.
For both gluten intolerant and coeliac diseased people, gluten is an enemy and causes mild to serious damage to health. But no worries, as there are many other types of food one can go for that are gluten-free to lead a normal life. If gluten makes you feel sick or uncomfortable, delete it from your menu!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a person die out of gluten intolerance?
If gluten intolerance is not detected and not taken care of, it might continuously cause damage to the guts and have chances of killing the patient too.
Is gluten intolerance hereditary?
Yes, gluten intolerance is hereditary, and parents or grandparents pass them from generation to generation.
My stomach bloats, and I frequently pass out gas after a meal. Is it because I am gluten intolerant?
In this condition, it would be best to see the doctor and know the root cause of frequent bloating and gas. You must also keep track of the other symptoms and tell the doctor about what you feel; these symptoms are similar in many cases, like food allergy, intolerance, celiac disease, gastrointestinal disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and acid reflux. Your doctor will perform tests, diagnose the issue, and treat you accordingly.
Who are the most prone to gluten intolerant?
Anyone can be intolerant to gluten or any other substance. Age, time, food habits, or environmental conditions are not the factor here. Some people develop it during early childhood days, whereas some develop it later in life.