Food Intolerance: Do I Have One?

The idea of food intolerances or sensitivities has been an increasingly popular topic of conversation.  With more research, we are discovering that certain foods are often-times the culprits of our health issues. However, figuring what these foods are is the tricky part. The first step is to understand the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance/sensitivity.

A food allergy has more of a sudden onset that typically takes place within a few minutes to an hour after eating a certain food. It more urgent and severe than an intolerance. Symptoms include itching in the mouth, throwing up, diarrhea, belly pain, drop in blood pressure, problems breathing, wheezing due to asthma, or skin reactions, such as hives or eczema. The allergy indicates an allergy to a specific protein in the food. If someone has a food allergy, they most commonly need to avoid the food altogether due to the severity of the reaction. Luckily, food allergies are easily detectable through skin or blood tests.

A food intolerance/sensitivity, on the other hand, is much more common to come by than one might expect. However, they are also more difficult to figure out. Symptoms of a food intolerance/sensitivity include upset stomach, cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea (loose stool), belly pain, heartburn, migraines/headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and more. While a food allergy is a reaction to a protein in the food, a food intolerance or sensitivity is a reaction the sugar in certain foods. Common foods that people feel most sensitive to include wheat and other gluten-containing grains (gluten intolerance), cow’s milk/dairy products (lactose intolerance), nightshade intolerance (tomato, potato, eggplant), corn products, sugar found in fruits and honey (fructose intolerance), and wheat starch and starches in other grains (starch intolerance).

Because food intolerances are not as easily detectable, some type of elimination diet or cleanse may be your only way to determine which foods are causing your symptoms. We will be covering elimination diets/cleanses in our next post, so keep checking back to learn more!