Is your cream tea making you ill?
Monday, 14 May 2012

Is your cream tea making you ill?

Written by Glynis Kozma

If you have unexplained symptoms such as headaches, bloating, skin rashes, joint pains and diarrhea, you are probably not connecting them with that delicious cream tea you’ve recently enjoyed. But food intolerances can be the cause of many chronic symptoms. Food intolerance is different from food allergy. An allergic reaction is usually sudden, severe and may even be fatal, whereas an intolerance may develop slowly and be harder to connect to something you ate two days ago.

The foods which commonly cause a reaction are grains such as wheat, dairy products derived from cows’ milk, fish and eggs. Some people are deficient in the necessary enzymes which help digest certain foods, such as the lactose in milk, and coeliacs are intolerant of gluten found in wheat, oats, rye and barely.

Most people who have a food intolerance recognise it when they have explored all other causes of their symptoms, which they may have experienced for years. Sometimes it happens by chance: you realise a day after eating a lot of cheese that you have a headache or bloating. If this happens on a regular basis it is easy to make the link. It’s often the foods we crave that cause the most trouble. So if you eat wheat, for example, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and have unexplained symptoms, it’s worth finding out if your body doesn’t like wheat.

Over recent years testing for food intolerances has become big business. However, very few of the tests are accurate. The only way to be certain is to cut out the suspect foods for a week or two, then reintroduce them, keeping a food diary to chart your symptoms. Eradicating certain foods will involve reading the labels because gluten can be found in gravy, sauces and many prepared foods as well as the obvious loaf of bread! Blood tests carried out through a doctor may show some food intolerances, but the kits you can buy over the counter are not accurate. If you identify an intolerance to a food group such as dairy, it’s worth having a consultation with a dietician to ensure you replace the essential nutrients with other foods.

Common foods causing intolerance

  • Cows’ milk and dairy products
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts

Rarer foods causing intolerance

  • Aspirin and all salicylates
  • Yeast
  • Corn
  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate

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