Food intolerance is a relatively common problem but it can be very troubling to sufferers. In addition, parents who suspect that a child may have an intolerance are likely to experience worry and concern.
The most difficult part of dealing with food intolerance, however, is often figuring out which food it is that is causing the problem. Read on for some frequently asked questions (and answers!) about food intolerances.
What is food intolerance?
It is important to understand that, though food intolerance and food allergy are sometimes used interchangeably, they are quite different.
An allergy is a full-body response with serious health ramifications, including risk death. Intolerance (or a non-allergic food hypersensitivity), on the other hand, will likely result in stomach upset or other issues but will not cause a severe reaction.
Intolerances to artificial chemicals that are added to foods to provide color, enhance taste, or slow spoilage are common. However, the most common is most likely lactose intolerance.
What is lactose intolerance?
Most people have heard of lactose intolerance.
It is relatively common. Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder caused by the inability to digest the main carbohydrate in dairy – lactose.
The disorder can cause bloating, discomfort, diarrhea and cramps when a person consumes milk products.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Sufferers do not create enough of the enzyme lactase in their systems. This is the enzyme that is required to digest lactose.
What do I do if I think my baby or child has a food intolerance?
First of all, if your child is exhibiting signs of a severe reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
With that said, a cause of food intolerance can sometimes be a repetitive diet of the same foods every day. This is a common cause of intolerances in toddlers who are picky eaters, for example. Simple elimination of the offending food may be all that is necessary.
However, if your child seems to be having consistent negative physical reactions to foods, there is no reason to wait to see a physician. A doctor may have dietary suggestions or other expertise to share.
Rotation and elimination diets are options you may want to bring up at your visit. These diets involve carefully managing the diet in hopes of pinpointing the offending food, or foods.
Why can’t babies under 9 months have cow’s milk? Why is formula or breast milk best?
Young infants cannot digest cow’s milk well and require formula. Cow’s milk contains high amounts of proteins and minerals that can cause severe illness in infants.
Perhaps most importantly, it does not contain the correct amounts of iron and other important nutrients for a growing infant. Giving a baby cow’s milk can even result in anemia.
What are common food intolerances?
- Lactose, of course
- FODMAPS (certain types of carbohydrates)
- Artificial colors