Are food intolerances all in the mind?

Caroline Cassidy

It seems the number of people suffering with food allergies of various kinds is on the rise but a leading gastroenterologist has suggested many of those who claim to have lactose intolerance are mistaken.

food intolerances all in the mind
food intolerances all in the mind

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Professor Peter Whorewell, a gastroenterologist at the Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, believes it may be the fat in milk that causes the problems.

He told the Daily Mail: "We see quite a few people who think they are either allergic or intolerant of milk and it is quite a difficult one to sort out.

Prof Whorewell says he regularly advises those who have switched to soya milk to try cow's milk again, but added: "It is sometimes quite difficult to persuade people to change their ways once they are convinced a food is upsetting them."

Of course food allergies do exist and many can be very serious but recent research would suggest that poor diet and stress is sometimes at the root of digestive problems that are often attributed to lactose intolerance.

Scientists from the University of Milan tested more than 100 people who had stomach problems which they blamed on lactose intolerance, and found most were perfectly able to digest lactose.

Those that suffered with bloating, diarrhoea and stomach pains, however, were often found to be depressed or anxious.

Professor Guido Basilisco, who led the research, suggested that too many people were cutting out dairy foods because of their mistakenly-identified intolerance, and may be missing vital calcium as a result.

He advised: "Excluding dairy products should be discouraged and doctors should pay more attention to the psychological problems of their patients."

What do you think - are you lactose intolerant or do you believe stress may be causing your food intolerances? Leave a comment below...