Many experience signs of food intolerance from time to time and the discomfort lasts for a while. Others have the misfortune of having to eliminate those foods from their diets altogether. This may be the new reality for a friend in crisis in episode nine of Sisters Without Shame.
Clinical dietician Bernice Venter joins the Sisters Without Shame to respond to an SOS from a friend in Mahikeng. He fears he may have to eliminate peanut butter from his diet and Venter confirms his worst fears.
Venter is a dietitian at Optiway and says when people start asking the question, “Is it a food intolerance?” and they constantly have inflammatory symptoms like gut problems or bloating, they might be better off avoiding those foods.
Am I not just allergic?
A person with a food intolerance has difficulty digesting certain foods. It is important to note that a food intolerance is different to a food allergy.
Food allergies occur when the body mistakes an ingredient in food as harmful. Antibodies will then gear up and fight against it, causing a reaction.
“Allergies are just with certain foods like we’ve seen with soya, wheat and shellfish. With allergies your reaction is immediate and sometimes quite deadly. It is severe: you can’t breathe, your tongue swells, you swell up and you need immediate medical attention.”
A food intolerance may cause inflammation and the effects can take up to 72 hours to develop fully. She uses peas as an example.
“Let’s say you are intolerant to peas. Only three days later you might have a bit of bloating or cramps or gas in your gut.”
“By then it is so difficult to pinpoint what you ate, and you are wondering, ‘Was it the breakfast or was it the peas three days ago?’ ”
People with food allergies will likely live without those foods for the rest of their lives. But those with food intolerance can try temporary elimination diets, says Venter.
“We need to listen to our bodies and see how we react to certain foods once we’ve reintroduced.”
“The point here is to reduce the exposure of the gut to this food and work on gut repair with a little bit of fibre, probiotics, a few other supplements that are needed, a bit of glutamine to repair and then – after three months – you can start reintroducing these foods again…and see what the reaction is.”
Listen to Venter’s full chat on this week’s podcast episode.
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