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What’s Going on Inside? Explaining Food Intolerance in Plain Terms

Have you ever had a meal that left you feeling bloated, uncomfortable, or even downright sick? If so, you may be one of the millions of people dealing with food intolerance. But what exactly is going on inside your body when this happens? Don’t worry; we’re here to break it down for you in plain terms. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of food intolerance and uncover what’s happening behind the scenes. Get ready to gain a newfound understanding of your body and discover how to navigate through these dietary challenges like a pro!

Introduction: What is Food Intolerance?

When you have a food intolerance, your body has difficulty digesting certain foods. This can lead to uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, and trouble breathing.

There are two main types of food intolerance: lactose intolerance and celiac disease. Lactose intolerance is when your body can’t digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Celiac disease occurs when your body can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

If you think you might have a food intolerance, it’s important to see a doctor so they can figure out the best way to help you manage your symptoms.


There are three primary types of food intolerance: lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, and histamine intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is by far the most common type of food intolerance, affecting an estimated 30 to 50 million Americans. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose-intolerant individuals lack the enzyme needed to properly digest lactose, resulting in symptoms like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, is a more serious form of food intolerance that affects about 1% of the population. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease sufferers cannot tolerate gluten, as it damages their small intestine and prevents proper absorption of nutrients. Symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.

Histamine intolerance is relatively rare but can be extremely debilitating for those who suffer from it. Histamine is a natural compound found in many foods (including aged cheese, wine, and smoked meats), as well as in the body as part of the inflammatory response. Individuals with histamine intolerance cannot properly metabolize histamine, leading to symptoms like hives, itching, swelling, nausea, headaches, and respiratory problems.

Symptoms of Food Intolerance

There are many different symptoms of food intolerance, and they can vary greatly from person to person. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation
  2. Skin problems like eczema or hives
  3. Headaches and migraines
  4. Fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome
  5. Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  6. anxiety and depression
  7. ADHD and ADD
  8. Autoimmune diseases

Diagnosing Food Intolerance

There are many potential causes of food intolerance, and the condition can be difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms of food intolerance include digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, and skin reactions.

Food intolerance is often confused with food allergies, but the two conditions are not the same. Food allergies occur when the body has an immune reaction to a specific food protein. This reaction can be severe and even life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance is a non-immune reaction that does not involve the body’s immune system.

Several different types of tests can be used to diagnose food intolerance. These tests may be used to identify specific foods that trigger symptoms or to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.

The most common test for food intolerance is an elimination diet. This diet involves removing all potentially offending foods from your diet for some time, then slowly reintroducing them one at a time. If symptoms return when a particular food is reintroduced, you likely have a food intolerance to that particular food.

Other tests that may be used to diagnose food intolerance include skin prick testing, blood tests, and challenge tests. Skin prick testing involves placing a drop of a suspected allergen on the skin and observing for signs of an allergic reaction. Blood tests can measure levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is involved in allergic reactions. Challenge tests involve consuming small amounts of a suspected allergen under medical supervision to see

Common Foods That Can Trigger Food Intolerance

Several common foods can trigger food intolerances. Some of the most common culprits include dairy products, wheat, soy, eggs, and nuts.

Dairy products are one of the most common triggers of food intolerance. Milk, cheese, and ice cream are all common sources of dairy that can cause problems for people with intolerances. Dairy products contain lactose, which is a sugar that many people have difficulty digesting.

Wheat is another common trigger for food intolerance. Wheat contains gluten, which is a protein that can be difficult to digest for some people. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity are particularly susceptible to problems from wheat consumption.

Soy is another ingredient that can trigger food intolerance in some people. Soybeans and products made from them (such as soy milk and tofu) contain compounds called isoflavones that can cause digestive distress in some individuals.

Eggs are another common food intolerance trigger. Eggs contain proteins that can be difficult to digest for some people. In addition, eggs may also be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella.

Nuts are a common trigger for food intolerance. Many people are allergic to peanuts, but other nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pistachios can also cause problems for those with intolerances. Nuts contain oils that can be difficult to digest and can also trigger allergies in some individuals.

Treatment for Food Intolerance

There are many different ways to treat food intolerance, depending on the severity of the condition. For milder cases, avoiding trigger foods and eating a balanced diet may be all that is necessary. More severe cases may require medication or even surgery.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to work with a healthcare professional to create a treatment plan that is right for you.

Alternatives to Treating Food Intolerance

There are a few different ways that people with food intolerances can go about managing their condition. The first, and most important, is to identify which foods are causing the problem and then avoid those foods as much as possible. This can be tricky, as many common foods contain multiple ingredients that may be problematic. For example, someone with a gluten intolerance may have trouble avoiding all wheat products, as they are often found in processed foods as an additive.

Another approach is to take supplements that help the body break down or process the offending food proteins. This is often done in conjunction with avoiding problematic foods, as it can take time for the supplements to take effect. Some people also find that they can tolerate small amounts of the offending food if they eat it with other foods that help digestion, such as probiotics or enzymes.


Food intolerance is a complex and often confusing process, but understanding how food intolerances work can help you take steps to prevent or reduce their effects. Keeping track of the foods that cause reactions in your body is essential for managing a food intolerance, as is making sure to get enough nutrition from other sources if necessary. With the right knowledge and support, living with food intolerance doesn’t have to be daunting; it can even open up new possibilities for healthy eating!


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