Recently scientific research has revealed that many more people than was once believed suffer from food intolerances. In fact, some experts believe that somewhere between 15% and 25% of the population in the United States presently suffers from some sort of food sensitivity. Unlike a food allergy, which is an auto immune response, a food intolerance is a gastrointestinal response. It is estimated that less than 4% of the population has allergies, which generally result in immediate and sometimes life threatening issues. In contrast food intolerance symptoms result for the body’s inability to properly absorb certain foods and can take from 30 minutes to a few days to show up. In fact, a wheat intolerance is very difficult for doctors to diagnose because the symptoms can take several days to show up.
By far the most common type of food intolerance is a lactose intolerance. Somewhere between 30 and 50 million Americans experience issues when they consume products containing lactose. Most people that suffer develop symptoms in adulthood, because their body’s fail to continue to make enough lactase after childhood. Lactase is an amino acid that the body requires in order to digest lactose. The evolutionary theory is that before dairy processing, few adults actually drank milk and as such the GI tracts of adults did not need lactase.
Another common type of food intolerance is a gluten intolerance, which is often called a wheat intolerance. Gluten is actually found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt. Obviously most breads, cookies, pizzas and cakes contain gluten protein. You may be surprised to learn that gluten is often used as a thickener in other types of food. For example, most commercially available ketchups contain a small amount to gluten.
If you find that you have either a lactose intolerance or a gluten intolerance, the simple solution is to stay away from products containing foods that you are allergic too. You can try buying lactose free dairy products. If you have a gluten intolerance, there are many gluten free cookbooks available which can help you to navigate the world of gluten free cooking.