Food Intolerance: Everything You Should Know About It

November 27, 2020
Food Intolerance

Typically when someone reacts to a particular food, that person has a food intolerance rather than a true allergy to that food. Despite their similar symptoms, a food allergy can be more critical.

What Does Food Intolerance Mean?

Some people experience difficulty digesting certain foods. This is known as food intolerance, non-allergic food hypersensitivity, or non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity. Keep in mind that this is different from food allergy.

What are the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?

Some common symptoms of food intolerance are:

  • Stomach pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
  • Itching and skin rashes

These symptoms usually surface a few hours after consuming the particular food.

What Causes Food Intolerance?

The leading causes of food intolerance include:

  • Absence of an enzyme
    To digest the food completely, our body requires many digestive enzymes. The absence of these enzymes can cause insufficient or improper digestion. For example, people who are lactose intolerant have insufficient lactase enzymes.

  • Chemical causes of food intolerance
    Some people are susceptible to certain chemicals in food, such as caffeine, and can develop food intolerance towards these chemicals.

  • Food poisoning
    Some foods contain naturally-occurring chemicals toxic to humans and are often found to cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For example, undercooked beans have aflatoxins that can cause severe digestive problems.

  • Natural occurrence of histamine in some foods
    Some foods, such as fish, when not stored correctly, can accumulate histamine. People sensitive to histamine may develop diarrhea, abdominal cramps, skin rashes, vomiting, and nausea when consuming such foods.

  • Salicylates present in foods
    Salicylate intolerant individuals should avoid foods containing high levels of salicylates, such as most plant-sourced foods, spices, herbs, tea, processed food, and flavor additives.

  • Food additives
    Out of the thousands of additives used in the food industry, certain additives like Nitrates, Sulfites, MSG, etc., are believed to cause problems.

Food allergy vs. Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a food allergy and food intolerance is that food allergy triggers the immune system while food intolerance does not. Therefore, a food allergy can affect your whole body and not only your stomach. Also, symptoms of food intolerance tend to take much longer to appear than symptoms of allergies.

Also Read – Food Allergies: Things You Must Know

Common Food Allergies and Intolerances

  • Allergies: About 90% of food allergies are caused by peanuts, walnuts, almonds, fish, shellfish, egg, milk, soy, and wheat.
  • Food Intolerance: Lactose intolerance is a prevalent food intolerance observed in many people. It is usually seen in people who cannot digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Another kind of intolerance is being sensitive to food additives such as sulfites, which can trigger asthma attacks in some people.

Also Read – Role of Food Sensitivities in Asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disorders

Treatment of Food Intolerance

The most suitable treatment for food intolerance is to avoid eating the trigger foods or eat them less often and in smaller amounts. You can also take supplements that may aid in digestion to treat food intolerance.

How to Prevent Food Intolerance?

Here are some tips which will help you prevent food intolerance.

  • Learn which foods at what quantity cause you food intolerance so that you can avoid or limit the amount of that food consumed.
  • While eating out, ask what ingredients are used to prepare your food to prevent ordering dishes containing intolerant contents.
  • Read food labels carefully to ensure the ingredients do not contain trigger foods.

If you are looking for expert and comprehensive treatment for food allergy or food intolerance, call us today at 843-572-1600 or schedule an appointment with our expert nutritionists today.