Food Intolerance is caused when the digestive system is unable to completely break down food into smaller components due to insufficient amount of enzymes produced. Digestive enzymes are small proteins which break down food into smaller components that are possible to be absorbed by our guts. The unabsorbed food becomes a free meal for the bacteria that live in our digestive tract. As a result of its consumption by the bacteria we suffer the classic symptoms of bloating, tummy cramps, gas, wind and in many cases diarrhoea. The most common form of food intolerance is lactose intolerance which affects more than half the world population. Luckily this can easily be treated by digesting enzymes available from here see below.
Food intolerance is completely different from food allergy and the two should not be mixed. Food allergy is caused by a response of the immune system against food proteins, thinking they are harmful substances. Food intolerance is not food poisoning, which is caused by toxic substances that would cause symptoms in anyone who ate the food. Food intolerance is not life threatening either.
Type of Food Intolerance
- Lactose Intolerance - is caused when insufficient lactase is produced. Lactase breaks down lactose the sugar found in milk. Read More »»
- Baby Colic - medical research established that half babies suffering from colic is due to decreased level of lactase production. Read More »»
- Carbohydrate Intolerance - the inability to completely digest carbohydrates such as starch. It hinders overweight people from loosing weight. Read More »»
- Alcohol Intolerance - particularly common by Asians from the Far East. Lacking the enzyme that breaks down alcohol can make people ill. Read More »»
- Coeliac Disease - demonstrates symptoms for both food allergy and food intolerance. This is a very important topic and has a dedicated page. Coeliacs are not the only persons affected, simply drinking beer can cause bloating. It will also explain Non-Coeliac Gluten Intolerance. Read More »»
Food intolerances are rarely harmful but may cause unpleasant symptoms:
- abdominal pain
- diarrhoea - usually begins about half an hour after eating or drinking the food in question.
The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another and depends on two factors: how much or little enzymes a person produces; and on the quantity of food consumed.
Diagnosis and treatment
The easiest test for a food intolerance is to remove the food from your diet for at least two weeks, see if symptoms improve and then try reintroducing the food (one by one). If symptoms return, an intolerance is likely.
Lactose intolerance can be tested far more thoroughly using a lactose tolerance test, a hydrogen breath test and a stool acidity test. Your doctor can arrange these and other food intolerance tests if necessary.
Food intolerance can be managed simply by cutting the food out of your diet. Babies or younger children with a lactose intolerance can be given soya milk instead of cow's milk. Adults may be able to tolerate small amounts of troublesome foods, so may need to experiment to work out what they can eat.
Supplements of digestive enzymes make life easier. The right enzyme will help break down food consumed that before it caused the symptoms. These enzymes are now available from foodreactions.org. Below is a list of digestive enzymes to help you understand which enzyme is required to break which food.
An enzyme is a protein that binds itself to a substance and converts it into another substance or smaller substances. Unless proteins, fats and carbohydrates (sugars) are converted into absorbable components they will remain in the digestive track leading to unpleasant symptoms as a result of their consumption by the bacteria living in our guts. The following table gives a glance for what each enzyme does and where it is produced/found:
|Digestive Enzymes in our body|
Where produced / found
|Amylase||starch (e.g. vegetables) into maltose - a single sugar absorbed by the body||produced in saliva but most in pancreas then released into small intestine|
|Lipase||fats (lipids)||produced in the stomach and pancreas which is then released into the small intestine|
|Lactase||lactose into glucose and galactose - 2 single sugars||produced in the wall of the small intestine where it stays|
|Pepsin||proteins into absorbable peptides and peptones||stomach|
|Maltase||maltose into 2 single sugars (used in beer production)||produced by the pancreas and released into the small intestine|
The table below demonstrates which enzyme is present in each product and recommendations for each condition. Visit the products page for all digestive enzymes available to treat your condition.
|Products and their digestive enzymes|
|Lactase Liquid||Lactase in a liquid form||Lactose Intolerance; to make lactose free|
|Prolactazyme Plus / Forte||Lactase, Bromelain*, Papain and Lipase.||Lactose Intolerance (and milk allergy).|
|Spectrumzyme||Lipase, Bromelain*, Papain, Amylase, Lactase, Gluten Protease**||All food intolerance, including Gluten Intolerance|
|Polyzyme Forte||Bromelain*, Lipase, Lactase, Amylase, Cellulase***||General food intolerance especially protein and fat intolerance|
|Digestaid||Bromelain*, Protease, Lipase, Papain, Amylase||General food intolerance especially protein intolerance (also good for food allergy)|
|Glutenzyme||Gluten Protease**, Amylase||Gluten Intolerance and Coeliac|
|Carbozyme||Cellulase***||Breaks down cellulose for better digestion of vegetable and carbohydrates|
* Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapples known to enhance the immune system, interferes with tumour cells and help avoid blood clots