What Are the Main Food Intolerances?

Food allergies and food intolerances have some similar symptoms, but they differ in that, when it comes to an intolerance, you'll present some sort of timely discomfort.
What Are the Main Food Intolerances?

Last update: 15 November, 2020

Food is the body’s main source of energy. After all, you need a daily intake of different food groups to provide your body the nutrients it needs. However, many people have food intolerances that make it harder to maintain a balanced diet, nutritionally speaking.

You may have experienced unpleasant symptoms after consuming certain types of food. For that reason, in this article, we’ll discuss the main food intolerances and the symptoms associated with them.

The Difference between Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

First of all, it’s important to know that there’s a difference between food allergies and food intolerances. This is because your immune system is involved in the former.

On the other hand, food intolerances are generally caused by a lack of components required for proper digestion of the trigger food. However, there’s an exception: gluten. Gluten intolerance causes immune system alterations.

A person who’s allergic to a food can’t eat it at all. However, if a person has a food intolerance, they may ingest some of the food without any problems.

Symptoms of Food Intolerances

Although some foods can cause both an allergy and intolerance, similar symptoms are triggered in both situations. As we mentioned above, some symptoms are immunological, while others aren’t.

The most common symptoms of food allergies are:

  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Swelling of the lips or eyelids
  • Eye redness
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hypotension

Food intolerances have similar but milder symptoms. However, they’re still quite bothersome. Some of them are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal distension

Typically, allergies manifest from 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion and can be potentially severe. On the other hand, food intolerance symptoms may take longer to manifest and are milder.

As you now know, the main differences between food allergies and intolerances. Next, it’s time to mention what the most common food intolerances are.

Lactose Intolerance

A woman drinking milk.

This intolerance is due to the digestive system’s inability to digest lactose, which is the sugar in milk.

This food intolerance is caused by a production deficit of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is responsible for the digestion of lactase and, consequently, for its proper absorption. Overall, this condition may be temporary or permanent.

Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease

Gluten is a glycoprotein present in many foods such as wheat, oats, or barley. Someone suffers from gluten intolerance when their small intestine isn’t able to digest gluten. Therefore, an inflammatory reaction occurs in the intestine. Typically, this is a life-long condition.

Essentially, it’s an autoimmune-based food intolerance. Its main symptoms are:

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of muscle mass

Sucrose Intolerance

This is an intolerance to common sugar caused by the lack of an enzyme called sucrase.

For this intolerance, the absence of the enzyme hinders the proper digestion of sucrose. This causes symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence, and abdominal pain, among others.

Fructose Malabsorption

A peeled green apple.

In addition, the fructose contained in fruits causes many different food intolerances.

Fructose is the sugar in fruits, certain vegetables, and honey. If your intestine is unable to digest this type of sugar, you’ll suffer from the typical symptoms of food intolerances after consuming these foods.

No matter what, it’s very important that you go see a professional if you suspect you’re suffering from a food intolerance. After all, these conditions can lead to numerous health problems resulting from poor absorption of the nutrients your body needs to function properly.

In some cases, you may need specialized studies to identify the cause. Thus, you will also be able to discover the best treatment.

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