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Say the word “constipation” in mixed company, and it may produce snickering and laughter. But to those who suffer from the problem, it is not a laughing matter. Many in the medical profession will tell a patient complaining of constipation to try more fiber, water and exercise. All are generally good suggestions but may not cure the problem if it’s related to food allergies. How do you know if your constipation is caused by food allergies or something else? Start by eliminating the obvious causes of constipation. An unhealthy diet, insufficient water intake and lack of exercise may cause constipation.

Those who are doing all the right things health-wise but still suffer from constipation should begin investigating other possibilities, such as food allergies. Food allergies range from immediate, life-threatening allergic reactions to intolerances or sensitivities to particular food substances. A symptom of food intolerance might be constipation. Other possible symptoms of food intolerances include bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Food intolerances might cause skin rashes or hives, a stuffy or runny nose, watery or red eyes, wheezing, asthma or eczema. The symptoms produced in each individual are as varied as their fingerprints.

Start by trying to figure out what food might be causing you problems if you suspect your constipation is being caused by food intolerances. Some people are good judges of what foods are the culprits and can try eliminating those items. Remember it can take three to seven days for symptoms of food intolerance to show up and equally as long for them to disappear. Keep a food journal and note any changes, good or otherwise. A food journal can be a valuable resource for those who have no clue what foods might be the problem. Keep track of your daily food intake for a week and note any symptoms. Use the notes you’ve made to figure out what food or foods might be provoking your symptoms. Then follow the elimination process.

Additional ways to detect the offending foods are blood tests and/or elimination diets where foods that commonly cause allergies are not eaten. Individuals on elimination diets do not eat common allergenic foods for three weeks. These foods include wheat/gluten grains, dairy products, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, corn, tomatoes, soy products and others. After three weeks, individuals start reintroducing one food every three days and noting symptoms using a food journal. The purpose is to detect foods that are the problems. A blood test or elimination diet is usually prescribed by a naturopathic physician or food allergy specialist, and can be a great tool for individuals with multiple food intolerances. A blood test helped me identify eggs, legumes, garlic, pineapple and bananas as sources of food intolerance.

Food allergies/intolerances have been called the great masqueraders because they may be the hidden cause of many health problems. About four percent of the U.S. population suffers from food allergies, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health. Food intolerances are more common. Fifteen percent of the U.S. population has food intolerances, according to the 2005 Food Allergy Initiative. U.S. BioTek Laboratories that test for food intolerances reported as many as 25 percent of the populations may be affected.

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