When healthy food makes you sick

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Dr. Narinthorn Surasinthon Dr. Narinthorn Surasinthon is the Director of Health at Thanyapura.

Kiwi CubesBy Dr. Narinthorn Surasinthon

Food is medicine. Products such as nuts, fruit or fish are often recommended as an ingredient of a balanced diet. Yet every now and then, we end up with the opposite result, our reaction to foods commonly perceived as healthy can be surprisingly unpleasant. We call it food intolerance.

There are two types of immune reactions to food: food allergy and food intolerance. And there are some differences between those two. Food allergy usually shows up suddenly, even a small amount of food can trigger it and the symptoms show every time you eat it. The allergic reaction can be serious and might require emergency treatment. Food intolerance, on the other hand, usually comes on gradually, may only happen when you eat a lot of food or eat it too often and is not a life-threatening condition.

The symptoms of food intolerances are not specific and it can be difficult to realize that the health problems you suffer from may be connected to the food you eat. According to the Australian NSW Food Authority, the following are the most common symptoms of food intolerance: bloating, migraines, headaches, cough, runny nose, feeling under the weather, stomach ache, irritable bowel and hives. Others unspecific symptoms are unexplained weight gain, fatigue and sleep problems. The foods most commonly associated with intolerance include beans, cabbage, citrus fruit, glutenous grains, milk, or lactose and processed meats.

If you notice that you have any of the abovementioned symptoms, you can try observing what kind of foods causes you discomfort. Create a food diary to review the correlation between your symptoms and your diet. There is, however, an easier way - a blood test. And once you find the food you’re sensitive to, try avoiding it for 2-3 months. Some people find that after a break, symptoms disappear. If they persist, it’s better to avoid that food altogether.

Dr. Narinthorn Surasinthon is the Director of Health at Thanyapura. Learn more on thanyapura.com