What is a Food Intolerance?
A food intolerance is an adverse reaction to food that mimics food allergy.
A food intolerance occurs when the body has a physical reaction to food which does not cause a reaction by the immune system. It can have symptoms that are very uncomfortable. A common example that many of us are familiar with is "lactose intolerance" (experienced when we drink milk) which can cause undesirable gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach-ache, gas, or even diarrhea. With these symptoms, it is no wonder that a person might think he has a food allergy! When someone is lactose intolerant the body doesnít have enough lactase, an intestinal enzyme, to digest lactose (a natural sugar in milk). If it isnít digested, it ferments in the small intestine and causes uncomfortable symptoms.
The good news is the food in question can often be tolerated when it is ingested in smaller amounts or when it is cooked. Consequently, when a child is lactose intolerant, he most likely can still consume small amounts of milk without distress. Or he may be able to eat hard cheese or yogurt made from milk.