From bangers to burgers. Could you have a meat intolerance?

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Plant-based diets may be on the rise, but it’ll be a while yet before they completely replace meat. Chicken, beef, lamb, and pork are, for many of us, still the main event when it comes to our meals.

But could our carnivorous cuisine be the cause of some unwanted side effects?

From succulent sausages to sizzling steaks, for some of us, the meat in our diets can cause a range of problems, such as bloating, eczema and migraines. So, if you’re a meat lover struggling with symptoms of food intolerance, read on before you throw another burger on the BBQ. 

What is food intolerance?

Put simply, a food intolerance is a reaction that can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it. This reaction can result in a range of inflammatory effects in the body, such as IBS and bloating, eczema, acne, headaches, brain fog, joint pain or sinus issues like rhinitis.

People often confuse food intolerance with food allergy, but the two are very different. Allergies, which are usually present from birth and present immediately after being exposed to a trigger food, can be life threatening. But food intolerances, although often uncomfortable, are not as severe and can take up to 72 hours to appear.

It’s estimated that around 45% of the UK population has food intolerances, and it’s common to react to several foods in the diet. Each person’s food intolerance profile is unique. The foods that cause problems for one person may be completely fine for another.

We often blame a fairly narrow selection of common trigger foods, like wheat, gluten, and dairy. But the reality is that any ingredient can present a problem, and meat is no exception.

Is processed meat the problem?

The trend towards ‘clean eating’ has highlighted the abundance of processed foods in our day-to-day diets. Meat-based foods such as sausages, and convenient pre-packaged deli options like sliced sandwich cuts, are examples of meat which has been processed by reforming its shape. As this is done, other ingredients are often added to increase shelf-life or change the texture or structure of the meat to better suit the way we eat it, like chicken nuggets.

There are many who believe this makes the product far less healthy, due to the additives involved in processing the meat. And it’s certainly the case that often, in doing so, processing adds other ingredients, like wheat, gluten or dairy, which could make it harder to work out your food intolerances. The more ingredients there are, the harder it is to pinpoint the culprit!

Moving on from meat

Increasingly, people are looking to reduce the amount of meat in their diet, concerned about health issues or sustainability. Events like Meat-Free Mondays and Veganuary are gathering pace, as we consider alternatives to animal products.

Fortunately, this proliferation of plant popularity means that, for those wanting to steer clear of meat because of food intolerances, there are plenty of tasty and nutritious alternatives available. 

The steady rise of free from foods across the supermarket shelves includes a huge range of meat replacements. From Quorn substitutes that mimic mince, chicken pieces and sausages – all perfect for cooking your favourite recipes from scratch – to the grab-and-go lunch options that make the working day a little easier, there’s never been so much choice.

Packing in the Protein

Removing meat from your diet may be easier now, thanks to better options, but it’s still important to make sure your diet is balanced. Some meats are rich in essential vitamins, such as B12, an important building block your body needs to stay healthy.

If you experience intolerances to a few different meats and fish, it’s also important to replace the protein your meat-based meals would have provided, considering other sources such as eggs, nut butters, oatmeal, beans and lentils.

While an intolerance to meat can be frustrating, particularly as BBQ season rolls around, it’s helpful to remember that there are plenty of great meat-free ways to enjoy the meals you love.

You can also keep in mind that intolerances, unlike allergies, won’t necessarily cause you problems throughout your life. It’s possible, with the right knowledge and management of your diet, to restore the balance in your gut and start to reintroduce your trigger foods.

Take control of your diet

If you’re experiencing issues such as bloating, skin irritation or recurring headaches, and have spoken with your GP to rule out a serious underlying condition, it might be time to take a closer look at your diet.

Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. Elimination diets, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel, can take a long time. And, as many of us react to several ingredients, it can be a while before you are able to see the bigger picture.

Get answers faster with Smartblood

When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable company that uses robust scientific testing methods and offers professional aftercare.

At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods. 

Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.

Our tests are supported by a 30-minute telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist to help you understand your results and make safe, sustainable changes to your diet.

Could YOU have a food Intolerance?
Find out Now with a Smartblood Test.

If you think that food intolerance may be responsible for your symptoms then we believe that our easy-to-complete tests could help you. Find all your food intolerances at once with a full Smartblood test.

The full Smartblood test is a complete program and is a great way to discover all of your food sensitivities and take control over your own personal trigger foods.

Around 10% of our customers exhibit no IgG reactions to the 134 foods whatsoever – for tests conducted from October 2023, we are providing non-reactive customers with a FULL REFUND so they can continue their investigations through other testing.

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