Unlike some allergies, food intolerances are not life-threatening. However, they can be very problematic for those affected. Food intolerances and sensitivities are extremely common and seem to be rising.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 20% of the world’s population may have a food intolerance. Food intolerances and sensitivities can be difficult to diagnose because of their wide range of symptoms.
What is a food intolerance?
The term “food hypersensitivity” refers to both food allergies and food intolerances. Food intolerance is not the same as a food allergy, although some of the symptoms may be similar.
When you have a food intolerance, the symptoms usually begin within a few hours after you have eaten the food you are intolerant of.
However, symptoms can be delayed up to 48 hours and last for hours or even days, making the offending food particularly difficult to spot.
Although the symptoms of food intolerances vary, they most often involve the digestive system, the skin and the respiratory system.
Common symptoms include:
– Abdominal pain
– Rinsing the skin
Food intolerances are commonly diagnosed by elimination diets specifically designed to reduce offensive foods or by other testing methods.
Here are 5 of the most common food intolerances.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk and dairy products.
It is broken down in the body by an enzyme called lactase, which is necessary for lactose to be properly digested and absorbed.
Lactose intolerance is caused by a shortage of lactase enzymes, which causes an inability to digest lactose and leads to digestive symptoms.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include (7):
– Abdominal pain
If you think you may have lactose intolerance, avoid dairy products that contain lactose, such as milk and ice cream.
Aged cheeses and fermented products such as kefir may be easier to tolerate for those with lactose intolerance because they contain less lactose than other dairy products.
Gluten is the general name given to proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Several conditions concern gluten, including celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. Celiac disease involves an immune response, which is why it is classified as an autoimmune disease. When people with celiac disease are exposed to gluten, the immune system attacks the small intestine and can cause serious damage to the digestive system.
The symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to those of celiac disease and include:
– Abdominal pain
– Diarrhea or constipation
– Joint pain
– Skin rash
– Depression or anxiety
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. People with gluten intolerance may experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and headaches.
Caffeine is a chemical that is found in a wide variety of beverages, including coffee, soda, tea and energy drinks.
It is a stimulant, which means it reduces fatigue and increases alertness when consumed.
People with hypersensitivity to caffeine may experience the following symptoms after consuming even a small amount of caffeine:
– Fast pulse
People with sensitivity to caffeine should minimize their consumption by avoiding foods and beverages that contain caffeine, including coffee, soda, energy drinks, tea and chocolate.
Salicylates are natural chemicals that are produced by plants as a defense against environmental aggressors such as insects and diseases.
Symptoms of salicylate intolerance include:
– Stuffy nose
– Sinus infections
– Nasal polyps and sinuses
– Inflammation intestinal (colitis)
In short, salicylates are chemicals found naturally in many foods and used as preservatives in foods and medicines. People who are intolerant to salicylates.
For more information on intolerance testing, please log on to www.testmyallergy.com and you can chat with our Customer Service advisors who will be delighted to assist you with any queries that you may have.