August 17, 2020 - Podcast

Episode 21— Food intolerance and acts of kindness

For some people, a big cup of milk or a super-rich tomato sauce is a delight for the eyes and stomach. For others, those foods could leave them with stomach upset and feeling ill. But how do you know if it’s a food intolerance or an allergy? Dr. Sandeep Gupta, a gastroenterologist and pediatrics professor at Indiana University and medical director for research at Community Health Network in Indianapolis, says the vast majority of adverse food reactions are food intolerances and only a few are actual allergies. But most people are not able to tell the difference in day-to-day life. An intolerance affects the body’s ability to adequately digest a certain food while a food allergy, on the other hand, involves the immune system. So, how can you tell the difference? Gupta says keeping a food journal is a good start. Meticulously record what you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat and how it makes you feel. Gupta says this will allow you determine what foods may have you feeling bad so you can eliminate them from your diet, or at least cut back on them. If you are still feeling bad, Gupta says take the information to a doctor or a dietician to help you figure it out. With food intolerances, Gupta says people can test their body to see where their body is telling them to draw the line. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances are not an all-or-none phenomenon, but can be more of a quantity question.

In other news, an act of kindness can feel good, especially to the person on the receiving end. But Sara Konrath, an associate professor at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, says being kind can also have tremendous benefits for the giver, an especially important point during these difficult times. Konrath says studies show that when people are kind, they have lower levels of stress hormones, they’re less depressed, and less lonely. Instead, they are happier, have better cardiovascular health, and live longer. Acts of kindness can be as small as a smile or a phone call, or something more, like volunteering at a homeless shelter. Such acts of kindness are always beneficial but could be even more important now as the nation endures the COVID-19 pandemic causing people to feel isolated and stressed. Konrath ads, though, that if you want to reap the personal benefits of being kind, you need to be sincere, even when you may not feel like it. Think of kindness as a lifestyle. Make it a habit and take stock of how you behave day to day. Are you trusting and generous or defensive and hostile? Konrath says taking an inventory of how you behave will make it easier to incorporate acts of kindness into your life that will help you and those around you.