Recognizing Other Body Reactions to Food

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Allergic reactions aren't the only way your body registers a protest against certain foods.

Food intolerance is a term used to describe reactions that are common, nat-^r\ ural, and definitely not allergic, which means that these reactions do not 2 I ) involve production of antibodies by the immune system. Some common food intolerance reactions are

1 A metabolic food reaction: This response is an inability to digest certain foods, such as fat or lactose (the naturally occurring sugar in milk). Metabolic food reactions can produce gas, diarrhea, or other signs of gastric revolt and are an inherited trait.

1 A physical reaction to a specific chemical: Your body may react to things such as the laxative substance in prunes or monosodium glutamate (MSG), the flavor enhancer commonly found in Asian food. Although some people are more sensitive than others to these chemicals, their reaction is a physical one that doesn't involve the immune system.

1 A body response to psychological triggers: When you're very fearful or very anxious or very excited, your body moves into hyperdrive, secreting hormones that pump up your heartbeat and respiration, speed the passage of food through your gut, and cause you to empty your bowels and bladder. The entire process, called the fight-or-flight response, prepares your body to defend itself by either fighting or running. On a more prosaic level, a strong reaction to your food may cause diarrhea. It isn't an allergy; it's your hormones.

1 A change in mood and/or behavior. Some foods, such as coffee, contain chemicals, such as caffeine, that have a real effect on mood and behavior, but that's the subject of Chapter 24. Turn the page, and it's yours.

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