Food intolerances may not be life-threatening like some food allergies, but they can cause significant discomfort for people living with these sensitivities. Bloating, diarrhea, and headaches are just some symptoms you may experience when you have a food intolerance.
Intolerances of foods are very common. Research experts estimate that they affect a significant portion of the world’s population. Fortunately, people with sensitivities are often intolerant to the same foods, making it easy for many to identify which foods to avoid.
Read on for 13 of the most common food intolerances…
Gluten is a protein compound in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It is used in foods (bread, cereals, sauces, etc.) to add elasticity and texture. Only many people cannot tolerate or are sensitive to gluten.
When you have a gluten intolerance, the immune system attacks the gluten proteins or the digestive tract. This causes symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, and fatigue.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream can cause similar symptoms to gluten foods. However, the symptoms result from an intolerance of lactose and are typically limited to the digestive system.
In people with lactose intolerance (approximately 65 percent of the world’s population), the body cannot break down lactose due to a shortage of lactase enzymes. This causes disturbing symptoms.
While most people can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine daily with no side effects, some are sensitive to the stimulant and experience reactions after consuming even small amounts.
In women and men who are sensitive to the caffeine found in coffee, tea, chocolate, etc., the symptoms are typically anxiety, nervousness, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, and insomnia.
Salicylates – found in veggies, fruits, and various other foods – are natural chemicals with anti-inflammatory properties that are generally considered healthy. Not everyone can tolerate them, though.
Some individuals are highly sensitive to salicylates and develop symptoms when consumed. Symptoms include hives, diarrhea, a stuffy nose, sinus infections, and gut inflammation.
Histamine is a chemical in the body that protects it from infection. Numerous foods contain histamines, such as cured meats, fermented foods, citrus fruits, vinegar, and avocados.
Normally, the body metabolizes and excretes histamine easily. But when that isn’t the case, you may experience flushing, headaches, itching, anxiety, cramps, and various other symptoms.
Foods containing FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols) are generally not tolerated very well. They are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, causing digestive discomfort.
If you have a FODMAP intolerance, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and constipation when eating foods like apples, soft cheeses, beans, and honey.
Sulfites, chemicals found in many foods naturally or as additives, are known to cause reactions in some people. They are prevalent in wines, dried fruit, baked goods, and pickled foods.
The symptoms of sulfite sensitivity include hives, skin swelling, flushing, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, and hypotension. In asthmatic individuals, sulfites can cause airway constriction.
This simple sugar is a FODMAP that occurs naturally in vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes and fruits like berries and melons. It’s also found in agave and processed foods that contain added sugars.
Most of us can tolerate moderate amounts of fructose, but some can’t. The body does not absorb fructose efficiently in those with fructose intolerance. This results in IBS-like symptoms.
Do you experience skin reactions or gastrointestinal symptoms after eating eggs? You could have an egg intolerance, where the body cannot digest the egg properly or reacts adversely to part of it.
In a great majority of cases, people with an egg intolerance are intolerant to only egg white. Being intolerant to the yolk of eggs is possible, though, and can cause equally disturbing symptoms.
Commonly used as a substitute for sugar, aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is widely used in diet sodas and sugar-free food products. It is also sold separately under different brand names.
Many experts claim that aspartame is safe for most people to consume. That being said, some individuals can experience headaches, nausea, anxiety, and depression when consuming aspartame.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is added to foods to enhance flavor. It can be found in parmesan, tomato sauces, and many other foods, although some people are sensitive to the ingredient.
Individuals who are MSG sensitive or intolerant commonly report experiencing hives, flushing, headaches, chest pain, digestive issues, and breathing difficulties after eating monosodium glutamate.
Yeast is an ingredient that is present in many popular foods and drinks. It is commonly used to make bread, baked goods, and widely consumed alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine.
People with yeast intolerance tend to experience gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. There may also be skin reactions and respiratory issues.
Food dyes like Yellow 5 (aka tartrazine) and Red 40 (Allura Red – often used in candies in baked goods) have been shown to cause adverse reactions in some individuals, especially children.
Food dye sensitivity can show up as hyperactivity, insomnia, a lack of attention, and mood swings. There may also be symptoms such as skin swelling, hives, breathing problems, and stomach issues.