Recognizing Food Intolerance

Recognizing Food Intolerance

Jul 18, 2022Liza Solodovnikova

Is your stomach constantly rumbling after eating? Do you feel bloated, have a headache, or get diarrhea often? All these symptoms may be caused by food intolerance.

In this article, we will talk about food intolerance and give essential tips on recognizing it.

Intolerance or Allergy?

In medicine, a distinction is made between food intolerance and food allergy, because the body reacts entirely differently in both cases.

When you have a food allergy, your body perceives specific components in food as dangerous. The immune system is activated to fight them. Allergy symptoms typically include itching, skin rashes, a runny nose, or swelling of the palate or tongue. More than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.

Food intolerances have other causes: the body can only digest or absorb individual food components poorly or not at all. So it is not a reaction of the immune system-specific transport, or digestive processes in the intestine do not function properly. It can cause many different ailments and problems that negatively affect the health and well-being of those involved. Unlike an allergy, people with food intolerance can often eat an individual amount of the food before the first symptoms appear.

How Does the Body React to Food Intolerance?

If you have a food intolerance, you notice typical symptoms shortly after eating. Possible indicators are:

  • cramping abdominal pain
  • gas
  • bloating
  • stomach noises
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • nausea

Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, extreme tiredness, and insomnia are less noticeable. Even psychological changes such as listlessness or depression can result from food intolerance.

The problem is that we often don't attribute these symptoms to our diet in the first place.

Buy N°10 ENDO BIOTIC now


What are the Most Common Food Intolerances?

Intolerance of certain foods is widespread in the USA and other industrialized countries. At least one in five people is affected by lactose, fructose, or gluten intolerance. Other intolerances are directed against sorbitol or histamine.

They can arise for various reasons, such as the excessive consumption of fructose and congenital or acquired enzyme defects.

Milk Sugar Intolerance (Lactose Intolerance)

Milk sugar, also known as lactose, is a polysaccharide. In the small intestine, it is broken down by the enzyme lactase into two simple sugars: galactose and glucose. These are transported via the intestinal mucosa into the blood and serve as critical energy suppliers. In lactose intolerance, the body can produce little or no lactase. Therefore, the lactose reaches the large intestine undigested. There the lactose is broken down by the resident bacteria. Gas and organic fatty acids are formed, which can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhea.

Experts estimate that about 68 percent of the world’s population has lactose intolerance. However, many foods on our menu contain lactose—for example, dairy products such as quark, cream, milk, and cream cheese. But lactose can also be found in pastries, ready-made sauces, sweets, or medicines.

Fructose Intolerance (Fructose Malabsorption)

Fructose is fruit sugar. As the name already suggests, fruit contains fructose, especially stone and pome fruit like apples or peaches. Otherwise, many processed products, sweets, honey, and some types of vegetables also contain fructose. Additionally, sugar alternatives such as sorbitol, maltitol, or birch sugar can cause problems. Caution is advised here, as these are used in many foods.

The following happens if the body reacts with fructose intolerance: typically, fructose is transported from the small intestine into the blood by a transport protein. However, this transport function can be disrupted. Then the body no longer absorbs the fructose properly. This is why it is also referred to as malabsorption. The fructose travels to the large intestine, where bacteria convert it into gas and short-chain fatty acids. Digestive problems such as flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and feelings of fullness are typical symptoms of fructose intolerance.

Gluten Intolerance (Celiac Disease)

Celiac disease is neither an allergy nor an intolerance in the traditional sense but an autoimmune disease. The immune system reacts to the gluten protein. This occurs in many types of grain such as wheat, spelled, rye or barley. Bread, pasta, and many other foods contain gluten.

The problem with celiac disease is that the immune reaction attacks the gluten and the intestinal lining, which becomes inflamed. Therefore, people with celiac disease often suffer from symptoms such as abdominal cramps and abdominal pain. Additionally, the inflamed tissue absorbs fewer nutrients, leading to a nutrient deficiency. Therefore, it is essential for those affected to avoid foods containing gluten consistently.

How to Recognize Food Intolerance?

Are you suspecting that you have a food intolerance? We would highly recommend you visit a doctor. Although there are typical symptoms, you can only get a reliable diagnosis from a specialist. Sometimes serious diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease can hide behind these symptoms.

Therefore, it would be best to have a test carried out by an expert. A breath test is often used if lactose or fructose intolerance is suspected. To diagnose gluten intolerance for adults - a laboratory test, a biopsy of the small intestine, and, if necessary, a genetic test is required.

A professional diagnosis is not only essential to rule out other causes for your symptoms, but it also saves you from unjustifiably avoiding certain foods. This can lead to a lack of valuable nutrients.

Buy N°10 ENDO BIOTIC now


What to Do With Food Intolerances?

Once you have found out that you have a food intolerance, an essential next step is to change your eating habits with the help of a doctor or a professional nutritionist.

The main goal is to eliminate foods you are intolerant to from your diet. At the same time, your diet should be balanced and easy to follow in everyday life.



Disclaimer: This article is a collaborative effort of the CLAV editorial team, created on the current literature base. All our publications are supplemented with passion and expertise for naturopathy and a healthy lifestyle. Our medical experts approve all texts before publication. Please Note: Dietary supplements are no substitute for a balanced, healthy diet or medical advice.