Food intolerances can be sneaky. More common than food allergies, intolerances may not be life threatening but can contribute to other insidious problems like digestive upset, headaches, joint pain, skin rashes, and fatigue. Food intolerances can also exacerbate a woman’s cycle and may influence chronic conditions like fibroids.
Specific to each person, food intolerances are challenging to pinpoint. The following are the most common.1
Because of fermented fruit used to make wine or hard cider, grains used to make beer or whiskey, and sulfites added as preservatives—alcoholic beverages can be triggers.
Histamine and Other Vasoactive Amine Foods
Coffee, soy, cocoa products, fermented foods, cheeses, cured meats, canned and processed fish, pickled foods, nuts, and certain fruits like citrus and bananas can pose a problem to histamine-sensitive individuals.
Wheat & Gluten
Any foods that contain wheat, barley, or rye are included in this category. Examples include baked goods, cereals, flours, pasta, and breadcrumbs. Not so obvious examples are prepared foods, condiments, desserts, beverages, and even medications. Always scan ingredient labels to make sure products are wheat and gluten-free.
Although some research shows dairy products to protect against fibroids, every woman is different. Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and powdered milk products belong to this category. Dairy can also be a hidden ingredient in prepared foods. Some sneaky ingredients to avoid are lactose, casein, and whey. Checking labels is important, especially when purchasing processed foods, as dairy-containing foods can be made on the same equipment as non-dairy containing foods.
Pastries, baked goods, stocks and gravies, vinegar and vinegar products, and fermented foods all contain yeast. Other not so obvious offenders include mycoprotein, hydrolysed proteins, and monosodium glutamate.
Not considered a common food intolerance, artificial additives like colors and preservatives found in processed foods can be an issue for some individuals.2
Food intolerance symptoms are not always immediate but can take hours to manifest, lasting hours to days.2 What’s more, if unknowingly triggering foods are eaten on a regular basis, symptoms can be ongoing and become “the norm.” Multiple food intolerances can coincide, making it difficult to know which is the problem.
Unlike the immune reaction of an allergy, food intolerance is often linked to digestion issues—for example, not having enough of a particular digestive enzyme needed to breakdown food components.2 For this reason, people who have a food intolerance can often eat small amounts of that food, but consuming too much or too often can trigger symptoms.
This is especially important for a woman to recognize during her cycle when cravings can be most intense. Keeping a diary of all foods eaten—highlighting which foods are eaten most—along with symptoms throughout a monthly cycle could help define which foods to avoid. With food intolerances, individualization is key.
Trying to eliminate the aforementioned common culprits one at a time could also provide insight. Working with a dietitian during the process of tracking, eliminating, and reintroducing foods can ensure it is done safely and accurately—as well as definitively rule out any food allergies.
The field of food intolerance is continuously evolving and although more studies are needed to confirm its relationship with fibroids, good nutrition habits can only improve overall health, which could in turn help manage symptoms.
- Allergy UK. (2016). Common Food Intolerances. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://www.allergyuk.org/common-food-intolerances/common-food-intolerances
- Allergy UK. (2016). What is Food Intolerance. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://www.allergyuk.org/food-intolerance/what-is-food-intolerance