It’s official: Your favorite comfort food has become your arch nemesis. As we age, our bodies have a harder time digesting certain meals. This causes a fair amount of discomfort known as food intolerance.
Food intolerance is commonly mistaken for food allergies. The difference between an allergy and an intolerance is that an allergy deals with the immune system. Having a food intolerance deals with your digestive tract, which experiences wear and tear over the decades.
If you’re starting to feel bad after meals, here’s an in-depth guide on how to determine if you have an intolerance and common foods that trigger this response.
Common Causes for Food Intolerances
The cause for and severity of your digestive issues vary from person to person. For instance, women dealing with both menopause and perimenopause experience hormonal changes. These changes have a direct correlation to bodily functions, including the digestive system. Moreover, some foods you eat further trigger menopause symptoms, including migraines and weight gain.
Another common cause of food intolerance is a slower digestive response. Naturally, you digest food more slowly as you age. This can lead to feelings of bloatedness and discomfort, even if you eat significantly less food than you used to.
Any immune-related health conditions can also trigger higher levels of discomfort after eating a meal. This is especially true if you’re required to take medication. Oftentimes, drugs cause digestion-related side effects like nausea. Nausea and regular vomiting can lead to increased feelings of discomfort and should be discussed with a physician immediately.
How to Diagnose a Food Intolerance
You can determine whether you have a food intolerance on your own. One of the easiest ways is to keep an eye on your body’s response to certain foods. For example, you can keep a food journal in which you record the foods that trigger discomfort.
You can also try an elimination diet. Elimination diets involve removing every food you believe causes digestive issues and slowly reintroducing each. This helps you pinpoint the exact foods instead of eliminating a complete food group from your diet. Typically, you’d cut these foods out for at least two weeks.
The benefits of narrowing down the cause of your food intolerances are endless. Once you notice the discomfort, you may visit your healthcare provider and realize the intolerance is triggered by an underlying health condition you didn’t even know you had. Chronic stress and anxiety, irritable bowel disease and food allergies have similar symptoms, so if you can’t figure it out on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Common Food Intolerance Triggers
There is no one-size-fits-all diet when it comes to foods that trigger intolerance in older adults. However, there are some common foods that may be responsible for your discomfort:
Greasy foods with a high fat content get harder to digest over time. Regularly consuming fatty foods makes you gain weight and slows down your digestive tract. These foods may also make you more vulnerable to health conditions. Do your best to avoid fast food and fatty meats as often as possible.
You may have been able to eat an entire bag of candy before, but this is dangerous later on in life. Too much sugar can lead to a spike in insulin production, which leads to insulin resistance. In addition to sugar, minimize your carbohydrate intake. Carbs have a similar effect on your digestive system.
Typically, raw foods are a go-to option to cure ailments. However, acidic fruits like strawberries and citrus fruits can make digestive issues worse. Also, raw vegetables are harder to break down as you age. If you take medication, speak to your doctor before eating certain raw produce.
Some digestive discomfort is a natural part of getting older. While it may be tough, you have to give up certain foods to keep your digestive system healthy and comfortable. If you’re experiencing severe symptoms of food intolerances, seek professional help immediately. Otherwise, eliminate foods that trigger symptoms or only enjoy them in moderation.