Think You Have a Food Intolerance? Here’s How To Find Out

by team nuut

Feel better every day with easily digested plant protein powder and foods your body loves.

A food intolerance is a disorder that can be difficult to digest - pardon the pun ;) Triggered by certain foods or ingredients your body has trouble digesting, it reacts in adverse and sometimes extreme ways, such as stomach or bowel problems like colic, reflux, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, disturbed sleep, heartburn, and skin reactions like rashes, eczema and hives. Symptoms are often delayed, occurring several hours after consuming the trigger food.

Food intolerance is common, with an estimated 20% of the world's population suffering daily. While a food intolerance may not necessarily be life-threatening, it can be unpleasant, uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life.

Food intolerance is often confused with food allergies. Let's look at how they differ.

Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance

A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to an allergen or ingredient in food. This elicits an immune reaction, which can range from mild to severe. A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is a medical emergency, while other less extreme conditions include asthma, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, wheezing or swelling of the lips, face and eyes. The most common food allergies are peanuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, fish, wheat and soybeans.

Plant-based protein powders like nuut are typically free from dairy, gluten, and other common allergens. Made from pea, hemp, rice, and soy, they are an excellent choice for those suffering from food allergies. nuut plant protein is designed here in Perth and made from high-quality whole foods that provide over one-third of your daily nutritional requirements and suit the most sensitive tummies.

Unlike food allergies, which are an immune response, food intolerance is a chemical reaction some people experience after eating or drinking some foods. It is often associated with asthma, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. A food intolerance is caused by your body being unable to digest a particular food or an ingredient. When it is not digested correctly, it starts to ferment inside the gut.

One of the most common food intolerances is lactose intolerance, when your body cannot digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt. The other is gluten intolerance, a disorder in which the body cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Some studies show that gluten sensitivity might cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with IBS experience digestive symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

The solution? Plant-based protein powders like Perth’s nuut, are made from various plants, such as brown rice, soy, or pea, and are vegan-friendly and gluten and lactose-free.

Other food intolerances include:

• Histamine found in foods and drinks like wine and cheese

• Caffeine in coffee, tea and some soft drinks

Alcohol and the sulphites present in cider, beer and wine

Salicylates in some fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is found in ripened fruits, cured meats and savoury foods

And then there is FODMAP Intolerance when a person has problems digesting certain carbohydrates or sugars, creating irritable bowel-like bloating, stomach cramping and altered bowel motions such as diarrhoea or constipation. FODMAPs is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols:

Fermentable - where gut bacteria ferments undigested carbohydrates in the bowel

Oligosaccharides - a chain of multiple simple sugars joined together in the chemical structure.

Disaccharides - two single sugar molecules joined together.

Monosaccharides - a single sugar or saccharide such as fructose. 'Mono' meaning 'one'

Polyols - a group of sugar alcohols including sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.

To ease symptoms, it's essential to avoid high FODMAP foods that aggravate the gut, including:

• Dairy-based products like milk, yogurt and ice cream.

• Wheat-based products such as cereal, bread and crackers.

• Beans and lentils.

• Certain vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, onions and garlic.

nuut makes great vegan protein powders but we also offer a range of nutritionist-designed meal plans that are simple to make and easy on the stomach. Head to our recipe section and check out just some of the delicious recipes that feature in our plans.

How Do You Know Which Foods You Can’t Tolerate?

Food intolerances are commonly diagnosed by elimination diets designed to narrow down offending foods. Food most commonly associated with intolerances is removed until symptoms subside and then reintroduced one at a time while monitoring for signs, which helps people identify which food or foods are causing symptoms.

Another effective method of pinpointing what's causing your symptoms is to start a daily food diary. Write down everything you eat and what and when symptoms occur. After a week or so, look for links that may suggest causation.

Always check the ingredients list on any packaged foods. Sometimes, your “trigger food” can be hidden in the fine print! When dining out, ask about all the ingredients and find out what your food is cooked in.

Once you've identified the offending food or foods, eliminate them immediately. Pick four or five fundamental foods that you know aren't causing your symptoms, and make them your base diet for the next two weeks, which gives your body enough time to reset itself.

Then, pick one of the triggering foods you have stopped eating and start consuming it again. Wait two or three days, and if your symptoms don't return, add the next triggering food. Continue until you can identify the one that causes symptoms. If there’s a reaction, remove it and wait a few days for the immune system to rest before adding another food back in.

Plant Protein Powder To The Rescue!

Vegan protein powder can be a godsend for those suffering from food intolerances. Plant protein is much easier to break down and is absorbed better by the body than whey protein powders. For those with dairy intolerances or allergies, a vegan protein powder combined with water or plant-based milk is a simple, gentle and convenient meal on the go.

The good news is you don’t have to suffer from food intolerance. With a little know-how, patience and daily plant protein, you can get back to enjoying your life without the painful side effects.