Anyone who has ever dealt with food intolerance knows just how miserable it can be. Sometimes symptoms don't appear until hours or days after eating the offending food. If you don't yet know what your trigger foods are, such late onset of symptoms can make it really difficult to figure out. Thankfully for me, I know my triggers and can even determine from the particular symptom what offender snuck its way into my diet. My symptoms seem to be cumulative too. The more I eat (and it doesn't have to be at one sitting) the worse I feel. My symptoms can range from achy joints, to migraines, to nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue... If it's a symptom of food intolerance I've probably had it. I'll admit there was a time when I honestly believed that this was my life. I was destined to live my life sick and in pain. Thank goodness that's not true! It took a while (about a month) for me to truly feel "normal", and it was a lot of work, but at least it was possible!
Interestingly enough, a study from Cabridge Diagnostics out of England showed that 60 days after altering their diets, 71% of patients in the study (2567 who responded to the questionnaire) saw improvements in their health. That's huge! So, if you're just starting out and wondering why you don't feel better yet, hang in there! It will get better.
What happens? Food intolerance and sensitivity cause inflammation in your small intestine. Over time this inflammation can destroy the lining of your intestine, which can cause all kinds of trouble. It's not just a simple matter of, I eat something, my stomach hurts, it passes, and I'm better. The lining of your intestine is responsible for nutrient absorption. If it's disrupted, the effect is malabsorption. Inflammation in your gut can also change the way your intestines move waste, which means you can end up intermittent diarrhea and constipation.
Why does it take so long to heal? If you remember from health class... way back when... your small intestine is about 20 feet long with a surface area equal to about 2 tennis courts. That's a lot of area to cover! So, not only do food issues cause inflammation (that can last for days or even months), destroy the lining and ability for the intestine to move properly, but it also disrupts the balance of good bacterial in your gut. All of these things take time to restore. Not to mention, some offending proteins can take a long time to be fully removed from your system.
So what happens if you just decide to "deal with it" and continue eating as you have all your life? I mean, why change now, right? Well the problem is, aside from all extremely unpleasant side effects mentioned above, prolonged inflammation can put us at higher risk for cancers and immune disorders. How's that for a reason?
Bottom line, if you've had on-going stomach issues, see your doctor. You don't have to feel sick all the time, and if you have a known food issue... take care of it. Trust me, I know it's not easy, but it's well worth the hassle.