Food intolerance is a reaction to a certain food, drink, or food additive. This condition is different from food allergy in many ways. For instance, a food allergy triggers the immune system, while food intolerance doesn’t. In food intolerance, the food doesn’t cause an anaphylactic response.
The most common food that causes food intolerance are dairy products and foods such as beans and cabbage that cause intestinal gas accumulation.
The symptoms of food intolerance usually take longer to emerge, compared to the time taken for the symptoms of food allergies to manifest.Food intolerance usually takes several hours to manifest in symptoms, and may continue affect a person for several hours or in some cases, even days. The most common symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Stomach ache
- Irritable bowel
The most common reason for food intolerance include:
Enzymes are essential for a proper digestion. If these enzymes are absent or inadequate, the process of digestion may be impaired. People suffering from lactose intolerance have insufficient quantity of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down the sugar found in milk, ie. lactose, into smaller components that the body can further break down and absorb through the intestine. Lactose cannot be absorbed through the gut wall into the bloodstream. If lactose remains in the digestive tract without being broken down, it can cause the symptoms of food intolerance.
Certain chemicals that are found in food such as amines in some cheeses, and caffeine in coffee can lead to food intolerance. Some people are more sensitive to these chemicals than to others.
*Food poisoning *
Certain foods contain chemicals that can induce symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Aflatoxin is one such chemical that is present in undercooked beans that can cause unpleasant digestive issues.
Some foods start accumulating histamine as they decay. Histamine is responsible for the development of symptoms such as skin rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. These symptoms are very similar to that of an anaphylaxis.
Salicylate sensitivity is a condition in which an individual reacts to normal amounts of salicylates that occur naturally in certain plants. People intolerant to salicylates should avoid foods that contain them in high proportions. Some processed foods that contain flavor additives are usually high in salicylates as well.
Dr. A S Sanjay
MBBS,Cert course in Diabetology, Ex-Capt(AMC)