Food Intolerances

A food can hurt you without you know it.

Many of you are not sick in a specific way, but suffer from persistent disturbance and upset that they cannot get on top, that’s because many of you may actually suffer from a food intolerance, i.e to be intolerant to one or more of those foods that daily we consumes at the table.

These people usually accuse these disorders for years and years, trying every type of care (also the so called “alternative”) without being able to see that everything can depend by some food badly accept by their organism.

Chronic fatigue, headache, asthma, dermatitis… can be all symptoms of a food intolerance, namely reactions of organism to foods normally present in the diet: common foods, unsuspected, but which constitute a toxic stimulus capable of giving place to various and numerous disturbances.

Virtually any organ or system can be affected:

• Headaches, migraines, neuralgia
• Allergies, asthma, rhinitis, eczema
• dermatitis, hives, psoriasis, acne
• Overweight, obesity, cellulite
• colitis, irritable colon, bloating, constipation, diarrhea
• Metabolic disorders, diabetes
• Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism
• Fungal infections, candida
• dysmenorrhea, menstrual disorders, vaginal discharges
• Rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis
• Cardiac arrhythmias, palpitations, high blood pressure
• Behavior disorders, attention
• Chronic Fatigue, depression, mood lability
• Dizziness, insomnia, nocturnal agitation

The list is really longest, because no organ is immune from damage caused by a hypersensitivity of this type.
On the other hand it is not easy to find the food to which you are intolerant by common sense (that is, “just I eat this food I’m sick”) because the effect of the intolerance is not immediate (as is the case for allergies), it is cumulative over time, and is not easily traced to the food that determines it. So the correlation between food and suspected disturbance is not as obvious as in allergies, but is subtle and difficult to identify, except by special methods of investigation. Food intolerance is not exactly an allergy, but can keep up an allergy itself (to pollen, mites, etc.): for example, a person may suffer from allergic asthma “by grasses” without knowing that really is intolerant to a certain food, maybe with tomato or with wheat, which stimulates to him allergic sensitivity. Then analyzing how the Prick, the Rast, etc., are not appropriate to discover this kind of hypersensitivity. However, there are new methods that can identify this type of disorder: today it is possible to identify which foods are really harmful to your body, through the Test of food intolerance.

Food intolerances, once diagnosed, may also be cured trough an individualized therapy which consists in:

• Removal of the predisposing factors (are manifold and need to be carefully identified during the visit)
• Elimination diet (suspension for a limited period (one / two months) of consumption of the”offending” food, up to the next re-introduction of the same)

• Homeopathic background treatment (natural medicine facilitates the recovery of normal function and reinforces the immunity system and the constitution of the patient)
• Nutritional supplementation (vitamin supplementation and efficacy in the oligotherapeutic)

The onset of gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, with considerable distension of the intestinal loops, even in the absence of more specific symptoms, can suggest an expression of food allergy. In fact, in most cases, the main cause of the symptoms mentioned is due by food intolerances which are precisely more frequent then the allergies. Food intolerances, unlike allergies, are not immunologically mediated, are dose dependent and are attributable to different pathological mechanisms such as for example the enzyme deficiency.

You can therefore define food intolerance as an abnormal response to certain foods not mediated by an immunological mechanism; at least it is a situation where it is not possible to demonstrate the immunological pathogenesis. However, it is to keep in mind that some intolerances, in their evolution, can also involve the immune system as in
case of celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

The specific intolerance differs from food allergy intolerance also because they are needed larger amounts of a particular food to cause symptoms (dose-dependence).
The time interval which may elapse between the ingestion of the food and the reaction is variable since few hours until the next day. The substance that is the cause it is often found in foods consumed daily; the symptoms are varied and involve different organs and systems, so that the doctor is often led to consider the clinical manifestations as somatization. Therefore extricating from the diagnostic jungle of the intolerances iis always extremely complex.

From a point of closely etiopathogenetic view we can distinguish food intolerances, most frequently found ,in the following categories:

1. may be caused by disorders of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins;

2. by ingestion of foods rich in vasoactive amines or liberators of histamine;
3. Presence of natural toxic substances (for example, aflatoxins in cereals) or added (colorants or additives);
4. Undesired pharmacological effect (coffee, tea, chocolate for the presence of caffeine and theobromine which can have effects sometimes very evident on the central nervous system and cardiovascular in certain susceptible individuals);
5. Fermenting action on some substrates by the bacterial flora of the colon (wine and alocohols).

The forms of food intolerance due to intestinal malabsorption are due to an enzyme deficiency; the most frequent for carbohydrates is lactose due to congenital or acquired deficiency of lactase, an intestinal dysaccharidase. The deficiency of this enzyme, although it is genetically determined, it seems to increase with the age of the subjects and it can happen to observe intolerance symptoms after drinking milk or dairy products in adult individuals who do not remember to have presented disorders in childhood. This fact can be explained by the failure to restore the amount of enzyme present in the small intestine after episodes of diarrhea of various origins. In fact, lactase deficiency can be secondary to malabsorption caused by various diseases (viral gastroenteritis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc.). The lactose, as known, is found mainly in milk and its derivatives. It is important, however, to remember that not all dairy products are just as important in determining the symptoms. Often we tend to think that the mozzarella or ricotta are “lighter ” cheeses and therefore better tolerated then the parmesan or emmenthal. This does not apply to those who are intolerant to lactose because the content of this sugar is much higher in fresh cheeses than in the seasoned ones. In fact the process of maturing provides a natural “digestion” of the lactose that almost disappears into products such as parmesan or pecorino.

Many times food intolerances, for the involvement of the intestinal system, mimic the intestinal syndrome of the irritable colon so that this last diagnosis is sometimes disavowed if the diet of the patient is radically changed: eliminating the substance “offending” we are witnessing a rapid regression of the symptomatology. They are also distinct vasoactive substances intolerance that are showen following to the ingestion of foods particularly high in histamine or histamine-liberators. The symptomatology, similar to that of allergies, is often due to the particular sensitivity of the subject.

We remember then the intolerance to additives whose etiopatogenic mechanism has not yet been clarified, although it can be said that it is not immune-mediated.

Now we list a number of foods to which is more common the food intolerance:

• egg white that can release histamine;
• crustaceans for the high amount of histamine contained in them;
• milk, as already explained, for the congenital or acquired deficiency of lactase;
• cereals. Paradigmatic is the celiac disease that is a permanent intolerance to wheat gliadin and prolamins of other cereals; It affects genetically susceptible individuals and produces serious histological lesions of the small intestine. These subjects must eliminate from their diet wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc. while maize and rice can be used as food substitute for other cereals. The pathogenesis of this form of intolerance has not been defined but it is thought to a secondary involvement of immunological mechanisms;

• legumes. Favism occurs following oral administration of broad beans or the inhalation of the pollen of the plant and it is due to a deficiency of the enzyme glucose6phosphatedehydrogenase;
• some fast from dressing, fruits and vegetables that, with less or more frequently, can give intolerance’ phenomenon especially if rich in histamine or tyramine;
• nerve foods, additives and preservatives which identification as a cause of intolerance is extremely difficult.

The treatment of food intolerance does not make use of pharmacological resources (except lactase in case of lactose intolerance today available in pharmaceutic form) but is based almost exclusively on the identification and elimination of the “responsible” food. Therefore, a correct diagnosis is decisive for the disappearance of the symptomatology and to not deprive the patient of foods that could take without any problem. In particular as regards the lactose intolerance there are in commerce certain foods lacking of this carbohydrate such as milk without lactose (Accadì, Zimil); even for patients with celiac disease, there are numerous products such as bread, pasta, crackers, cookies etc.. gluten-free; it seems clear, however, as the pillar of a correct approach to food intolerance is the correct nutrition education and awareness of the presence of the disease.

Further complicating the problem, we must consider the presence of so-called psychological aversions. They occur for the introduction of a food to which the patient, very often child or teenager, has a refusal of psychic origin. The symptomatology with which you can show is often represented by hives, asthma and eczema. In other cases it is interested the digestive tract or genitourinary or osteo-articular.
Often the clinical picture real or reported by the patient or relatives is similar to that of intolerance or food allergies. However, a careful history, the negativity of the tests of cutaneous reactivity, the absence of specific antibodies in the blood towards the food and the test results by the administration, double-blind, of the food believed responsible, they can direct towards the correct psychological diagnosis of intolerance.

Can you heal from the intolerance?
From food intolerance you can heal, following elimination diets possibly associated to a phyto-therapeutic support. Food programs must be agreed and followed by an expert to be able to assess the modalities more correct and those ones that well adapt to individual problems.
Partial deletions or for too short times of a food does not bring satisfactory results, but only so much useless fatigue and discouragement! The removal of these foods brings significant benefit from a clinical point of view for those who suffer from a condition that, so far, resulted in considerable frustration for both patients and health.