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The Most Common Food Intolerances

Updated on September 17, 2012
Some foods are delicious, but can make us sick! Learn what Food Intolerances really mean - and how you can find out if you have one.
Some foods are delicious, but can make us sick! Learn what Food Intolerances really mean - and how you can find out if you have one. | Source

Food Allergies, Food Intolerances and Special Diets cover the pages of magazines, are heard all over the radio and are plastered all over the television. Restaurants, cafes and grocery stores offer vegan, gluten free, dairy, free, soy free, egg free, nut free foods and people swear that you shouldn't eat this or that or load up on the latest super food.

A lot of these diets are based on personal choice, however, there are the unlucky ones with food allergies and food intolerances who can't choose to eat them or not.

A food intolerance is a sensitivity to a particular food or set of foods. They each occur for a different reason and can come and go as a person grows and reaches different stages of life.

What Are Food Intolerances?

Food intolerances cause a negative reaction to a food, beverage, additive or a compound found in food. These reactions are often delayed and present symptoms in one or more body systems and organs such as asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS and stomach upsets.

Whilst a food intolerance reaction presents symptoms that are similar to a food allergy, they are completely different. A food intolerance is a hypersensitivity to a certain food or compound found within a range of foods, it is not an allergic reaction as it is often mistaken to be.

What are the Symptoms of Food Intolerances?

Symptoms of food intolerances can include:

  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • migraine
  • dizzy spells
  • heart palpitations
  • rapid breathing
  • nervousness
  • tremors
  • sweating
  • burning sensations on the skin
  • a feeling of tightness in the face and/or chest
  • breathing difficulty
  • allergy like reactions

Common Food Intolerances

The foods that are most likely for sensitive people to have an intolerance reaction to include foods such as:

  • Dairy
    Milk, cheese, yogurt etc.
  • Eggs
    Most commonly egg whites
  • Food Additives
  • Flavor Enhancers
    eg: MSG
  • Chocolate
  • Salicylates
    eg: strawberries, tomatoes and citrus fruits
  • Wine
    Most commonly red wine
  • Histamines
  • Amines

Diagnosing a Food Intolerance

The most common diagnostic tests used to find food intolerances include:

  • Elimination Diets
    An elimination diet is once where suspect foods (foods that are thought to be causing problems) are removed for a specific period (usually no less than two weeks) before they are slowly reintroduced one at a time in order to see which foods are causing a reaction.Elimination diets are best conducted under the guidance of a doctor in order to properly identify the issue and avoid any harmful effects when reintroducing the foods.
  • Food and Symptoms Diary
    A food and symptom diary is where an individual logs all of their food and drink for the day, as well as the symptoms they are feeling throughout the day. Symptoms may include bloating, stomach pains, bowel movements, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness etc.These symptoms are then analyzed to discover whether a pattern is occurring which could potentially identify a food intolerance(s).

Treating Food Intolerances

For people with food intolerances, the best way to treat them is by eliminating the particular problem foods from the diet and avoiding those food for a prolonged period of time. It is common for people with food intolerances who have avoided particular problem foods for a period of time to have no reaction later on when reintroducing the food in small doses. When living with food intolerances, it is vitally important to know what foods to avoid with food intolerances.

Food intolerances often come and go as people go through different stages of life or change environments or medications.

Living with Food Intolerances

Whilst your food intolerances may only be temporary, it is important to understand how to live with them so that you're not constantly ill or doing further damage to your body. This means;

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