Can you really be carbohydrate intolerant?

Is carb intolerance an actual thing [Photo: Getty]
Is carb intolerance an actual thing [Photo: Getty]

These days carbs get a bad rap.

Want to shift a few pounds? Go carb-free. Feeling bloated? Blame the bread. #Nocarbsbeforemarbs, anyone?

Nowadays more and more of us seem convinced that carbohydrates are the cause of our gut problems.

But while we know being gluten, dairy or wheat intolerant is an actual thing, can you also be carb-intolerant?

And if you so, does that mean you have to stay chip-free forever more?

“Carbohydrate intolerance is a very broad term for a wide range of intolerances,” Emma Brown MSc, nutritionist for food and calorie tracking app, Nutracheck, told Yahoo Style UK.

“But it’s very unlikely that someone will be intolerant to every type of carbohydrate,” she adds.

“Intolerances tend to be to specific types of carbs such as gluten containing carbohydrates, or types of sugars known as saccharides.”

So what is carb-intolerance?

Emma says that a carb-intolerance is due to an inability to digest the carbohydrate because of a lack of one or more important enzymes in the digestive system.

“This can occur for many reasons and may be lifelong or more transient,” she explains.

“Symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance may include gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, excessive bloating, diarrhoea or constipation.”

I’m suffering from all these things does this mean I’m carb-intolerant?

According to Nutritionist Alix Woods, who is currently working in collaboration itsu, to discover if you are carb-intolerant you would need to request a Hydrogen Breath Test from your GP.

“The test, measures hydrogen in the breath to determine the symptoms associated with a Carbohydrate Intolerance. The amount of hydrogen is an indicator of efficient or inefficient digestion and when amounts are high, digestion is compromised or inefficient and food is unabsorbed leading to the as discussed symptoms.”

Can you really be carb intolerant? [Photo: Getty]
Can you really be carb intolerant? [Photo: Getty]

I’m carb-intolerant, now what?

Emma Brown says the only way to relieve symptoms associated with a carb-intolerance is to remove the cause from the diet once the carb culprits have been established.

“It’s important to seek advice from a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet,” she warns. “Removing all carbohydrate from the diet is not recommended, so identifying specific causes and eliminating the specific carbohydrate is vital,” she adds.

And it might not be the obvious carb that is actually causing the problem. Apols bread and pasta.

“For example – lactose intolerance is a type of carbohydrate intolerance. Removal of lactose (the sugar in milk) from the diet will help to relieve symptoms, but removal of other non lactose carbohydrates such as starches in bread, is not needed.”

To determine what the ‘culprit’ carbohydrates might be Alix Woods suggests keeping a food diary and then avoiding any particular troublesome carbs.

She also advises taking a pre-meal supplement which could help keep symptoms at bay. “With larger carbohydrate laden meals, supplement with a Digestive Enzyme supplement prior to the meal,” she says. “This may support digestion and bring some relief to any latent symptoms.”

“A probiotic supplement may also help as certain strains of cultures can help with the breakdown of carbohydrates and the proper assimilation of nutrients,” she adds.

“You may benefit from consulting a Nutritionist to help you ‘repair’ and support your digestion.”

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