FOOD INTOLERANCES

Ph: (03) 98884119 or 0439884144

  

  

  

What is Food Intolerance?  

Food Intolerance is the inability to completely break down food into absorbable particles in the small intestine.  This is caused by a lack of digestive enzymes in the body or insufficient amounts of digestive enzymes.  The unabsorbed food remains in the digestive system and causes symptoms associated with food intolerance.

  

Symptoms of food intolerance include:  

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

  

Food intolerance adverse reactions occur every time the food is eaten, particularly if large quantities are consumed.  Symptoms usually begin about half an hour after eating or drinking the intolerant food.  The severity of symptoms can vary, depending on the amount of enzymes the body produces and how much of the food has been consumed.

  

Causes of food intolerance  

When we eat, the nutrients contained in the food we eat are absorbed into the bloodstream through the lining of the small intestine.  Sugars such as lactose, fructose, sorbitol and glucose are usually absorbed in the small intestine. 

  

Undigested sugars that pass through the small intestine with minimal or no absorption will pass through to the large bowel where bacteria in the large bowel feed on the sugar, converting part of it into hydrogen or methane gases. These gases are absorbed into the bloodstream from the large bowel and travel to the lungs where they are breathed out.

  

How is food intolerance diagnosed?

Food intolerances are diagnosed via Breath testing. An increase in hydrogen or methane gases in your exhaled breath will indicate if you have a problem absorbing the test sugar substance. 

  

Lactose intolerance  

Cow’s milk contains a type of sugar called lactose.  Normally our intestinal cells produce enough of the enzyme lactase to ensure the lactose in milk is both digested and absorbed in the small intestine efficiently. Lactase activity is highest immediately after birth, and beneficial for babies whose only food for the first few months of life is breast milk or infant formula. 

  

Lactase activity decreases considerably during childhood and adolescence, and the symptoms of lactose intolerance increase with age.  Most adults, except for Caucasians, are lactase deficient. It is estimated that only about 30% of the adult world population produce enough lactase to digest lactose. 

  

Lactase deficiency can also develop after prolonged diarrhoea, and damage to the intestinal villi resulting from diseases, gastroenteritis, infections, medicines and malnutrition.  Temporary or permanent lactose intolerance can result from these conditions, depending on the severity of the intestinal damage.   In extremely rare cases, an infant is born with a lactase deficiency. 

  

When more lactose is consumed than the available lactase can handle, lactose molecules remain in the intestine undigested, attracting water and causing bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea, the main symptoms of lactose intolerance. The undigested lactose becomes food for the intestinal bacteria, which multiply and produce irritating acid and gas, further contributing to the discomfort and diarrhoea.

  

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Floating stools
  • Foul-smelling stools

 

Lactose intolerance can also cause over growth of bacteria in both the small and large intestines.  This over growth of bacteria can cause inactivation of the digestive enzymes, deconjugation of bile salts, leaky gut syndrome, and nitrosamine production.  This over growth of bacteria can also increase the body’s demand for Vitamin B12 and bioflavoinoids. Symptoms may worsen with large doses of milk products. 

  

Fructose malabsorption  

Fructose is a sugar known as fruit sugar. Fructose is found in fruits, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup and to a lesser extent in some vegetables.  The highest fructose containing fruits are dried fruits, mango, papaya and apple.

  

Fructose malabsorption is an inability to absorb fructose, in the small intestine.   This results in fructose passing through to the large bowel where bacteria in the large bowel ferment the sugar. This can cause both gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal bloating/cramps, constipation, loose stools, diarrhea or flatulence and increased proliferation of intestinal bacteria and yeasts which metabolise fructose.

 

Symptoms of fructose malabsorption  

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Floating or oily stools
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Loose bowel motions
  • Nausea

  

These are common symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). People suffering with IBS often have fructose malabsorption.  

  

Sorbitol Intolerance  

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol (polyol). It is commonly used as a sugar substitute in "sugar-free" food products. Sorbitol has fewer calories than sugar and is often added to processed foods and medications to sweeten them.   It is also known as glucitol.

  

Sorbitol can be found in diet products, sugar-free sweets and lollies, chewing gum, diet and diabetic foods.   It can also be added to some medications, mouth washes, cough syrups, laxatives and cosmetics.  It occurs in fruit, beer and berries. Sometimes sorbitol and fructose are added to the same product.

  

Sorbitol absorption in the small intestine is much slower than other sugars.  This allows even moderate amounts of sorbitol to be malabsorbed in the small intestine. The malabsorbed sugar alcohol reaches the large bowel where it ferments and causes symptoms, especially in individuals with a rapid intestinal transit time. 

  

Sorbitol and fructose intolerance often co-exist and can both aggravate intestinal symptoms. The concurrence of lactose and sorbitol is less clear, although there is some supporting evidence.

  

Symptoms of sorbitol intolerance  

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Increased intestinal sounds
  • Increased gas production
  • Nausea

  

Sorbitol intolerance is quite common and 70% of people with irritable bowel syndrome are sorbitol intolerant.  More than 50% of adults experience digestive symptoms following ingestion of more than 10 g of Sorbitol.

  

Currently, there is scant information about the long term effects of sorbitol intolerance.  Weight loss has been reported and in diabetics high concentrations of sorbitol secondary to high blood glucose concentrations have been associated with nerve (small nerve fibre neuropathy) as well as eye damage.

  

Food intolerance treatment  

The results of breath testing allow for the correct diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms.  Once a correct diagnosis is made the appropriate changes can be made to your diet and lifestyle.  You will then see an improvement in your symptoms and quality of life. 

  

Diet is vital in the treatment of carbohydrate malabsorption and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.  The results allow for the correct dietary and supplemental interventions to be utilised. 

  

Naturopathy can be extremely beneficial in the treatment of Food Intolerances.   Please phone Kathryn (03) 98884119 to arrange an initial consultation to begin treatment for your condition.  

  

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