Food intolerance: Types and causes

Jan 13


Suborna Fermi

Suborna Fermi

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Food intolerance is basically a disorder that mainly affects a person’s digestive system. In more specific words, if you have food intolerance then you might face complications in digesting certain food groups. Some of the main types of food intolerance include lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, gluten intolerance, salicylates intolerance, histamine intolerance, and food poisoning.


Food intolerance mainly affects the digestive system of our body. People who have food intolerance find it difficult to properly digest certain foods. Although food intolerance is not a life threatening issue,Food intolerance: Types and causes Articles indigestion can cause discomfort and lead to developing gas, diarrhea and constipation. 

What is Food sensitivity or intolerance? 

Food sensitivity is another name for food intolerance. If you have food intolerance, your digestive system experiences a difficult time to break down or digest certain foods. This indicates that your gut is irritable to certain foods, hence cannot break them down. When you eat foods which you are sensitive with, you may experience gas, abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

What are the common types of food intolerance? 

The familiar food intolerance include: 

Lactose intolerance: Lactose is a type of sugar, which is present in dairy products. Our digestive system breaks down foods with the help of certain digestive enzymes. Lactase is an enzyme which helps to digest lactose. People with lactose intolerance do not have an appropriate amount of lactase enzyme, and this is why they are sensitive to or cannot cannot tolerate lactose.  

Gluten intolerance: Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye and other cereals. Gluten sensitivity is different from Celiac disease, this is why gluten sensitivity is also referred to as nonceliac gluten sensitivity. However, the symptoms of both of these conditions may seem similar. People with gluten sensitivity may experience fatigue, headache, brain fog, joint pain, anxiety and depression. If you experience any of these symptoms, go for the food intolerance test.       

Fructose intolerance: Fructose is a type of glucose which occurs in some vegetables, fruits and honey. This intolerance may occur in people who lack an enzyme which usually breaks down fructose. However, it is an uncommon intolerance, but one may get this food sensitivity due to genetics. People with fructose intolerance may experience bloating, gas, fullness, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.    

Salicylate intolerance: Salicylates are components found in some vegetables, fruits and spices and herbs. They can also be found in preservatives and artificial flavors including candices, chewing gums and toothpastes. The symptoms of this intolerance include rashes, stomach pain, hives, fatigue, wheezing, runny nose and diarrhea. 

Histamine intolerance: Histamines are organic chemicals that occur in pineapple, bananas, avocados, cheese, chocolates, some red and white wines. People with histamine intolerance lack diamine oxidase enzymes which generally break down histamine. 

Food poisoning: Certain foods do contain some natural chemicals which have a poisonous effect on human beings. Generally, bacterias, viruses and parasites in foods cause food poisoning. The contamination mostly occurs in eggs, meat and dairy products. The symptoms may vary due to the cause of the poisoning, however people with food poisoning generally experience nausea, stomach aches, vomiting, headache, weakness, loss of appetite, mild fever and diarrhea.  

What are the causes of food intolerance? 

The main causes behind food intolerance or sensitivity are discussed below. 

Genetics: Many studies have shown that food allergies as well as food intolerance can be inherited. Lactose sensitivity and fructose sensitivity are types of food intolerance which is considered as an inherited disorder of lactase enzyme deficiency. Also, people from Asia, Africa and Native America are more prone to lactose sensitivity than any other heritage. 

Deficiency of digestive enzymes: Digestive enzymes are a type of protein that has an integral part in digestion by breaking down foods, and they secretes through the gastrointestinal system. These enzymes help in nutrition absorption, and digests fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Most types of food intolerance are caused by the lack of certain digestive enzymes. For instance, a person with lactose intolerance lacks the lactase enzymes. If you lack lactase enzyme then your digestive system cannot be able to digest lactose completely. 

Nonceliac gluten sensitivity: Most people get confused between gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Both of the conditions are different, however the symptoms may appear to be similar to each other. The specific cause of gluten intolerance is still unknown. However, researchers interpret this condition as a non-autoimmune and non-allergic condition which causes gastrointestinal symptoms due to consumption of gluten. 

Gastrointestinal disease: It is considered that people with undetected gastrointestinal diseases are more prone to develop a food sensitivity. One survey shows that people with irritable bowel disease have food intolerance of dairy products and histamine. People with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative disease have food intolerance of food groups including fats, dairy products, artificial flavors, and chocolate. Furthermore, people having inflammatory bowel disease also suffer from certain food intolerance.  

Sensitivity to food chemicals and additives: Our food does contain natural chemicals. Most people can digest them, but unfortunately some cannot. Why some people fail to digest food chemicals remains unclear. However, the consumption of salicylates, histamines, monosodium glutamates, and caffeine may provoke gastrointestinal symptoms in some people.

So, those are all the causes of food intolerance. However, do remember that food intolerance and food allergy are completely not the same. But the symptoms may seem similar. Only food allergy testing can detect if you have any food allergy, and the food allergy test price is also very nominal.