Digestive symptoms, or periodic aches and pains may be symptoms you’re chalking up to menopause.
But not so fast. Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can mimic common menopausal symptoms.
These health challenges cause immediate or chronic symptoms throughout the body and can present themselves over hours or days.
FOOD INTOLERANCE SYMPTOMS
The gastrointestinal tract is a common place where food intolerances show up. A lactose intolerance or celiac disease can create stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea and are experienced immediately after eating foods containing lactose or gluten.
More insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.
Food intolerance can affect hormones, metabolism or even cause inflammation resulting in the following symptoms:
- Chronic muscle or joint pain
- Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
- Headaches or migraines
- Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep
- Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis
- Rashes or eczema
- Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”
- Shortness of breath
An elimination diet is the best way to determine if allergies and food intolerances are present. Avoid possible triggers for three weeks and monitor symptoms.
If symptoms improve, decide whether to eliminate these items or slowly reintroduce them one at a time keeping a lookout for symptoms.
Three common food intolerances
- Lactose (in dairy – eliminate or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead)
- Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).
- Soy (not only in soy products but in different forms in many processed foods)
Lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people, while soy affects as well quite a few people.
If you eliminate all traces of lactose, gluten and soy for three weeks, it can confirm whether these are a source of symptoms.
Track each meal – after every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate and any noticeable symptoms.
Symptoms may not start immediately after eating. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating certain foods.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be hyper vigilant when eliminating foods. Potential allergy causing ingredients may be hiding in food sources. Common culprits are restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings.
Sugar hides in almost everything including processed meats and soy sauce. Lactose can be found in some medications or supplements.
When in doubt, ask restaurant per about hidden ingredients, read labels and consider cooking from scratch.
What if it doesn’t work?
If a food elimination plan is not taking care of symptoms, see the help of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Do you want to try preparing your own homemade nut/seed milk?
Click here to see the recipe.