Foods are the main source of energy for the body. Every day we have to ingest different food groups for proper nutrition. However, many people suffer from food intolerances and may have more difficulty following a balanced diet, from a nutritional point of view.
After eating a certain food, you may have noticed unpleasant symptoms. It is very common and that is why in today’s article we will tell you about the main food intolerances and the symptoms associated with each.
The differences between food intolerances and allergies
It is important to know that food intolerances and food allergies are two distinct conditions. In the case of allergies, the immune system is involved.
Intolerance, on the other hand, is generally due to the lack of the components necessary for the correct digestion of the food triggering the reaction, but without the intervention of the immune system.
However, there is an important exception: gluten. In fact, gluten intolerance or celiac disease also presents alterations in the immune system.
A person allergic to a food cannot ingest even a small amount of it. If the subject has a food intolerance instead, he could ingest a small amount of the food in question, without important consequences.
Symptoms of food intolerances
Although some foods can cause both allergy and intolerance, in both cases they trigger similar symptoms, but with a different origin. As we have said, the allergic reaction has an immunological character while intolerance does not.
In the case of an allergy, the most common symptoms are:
- Swelling of the lips or eyelids.
- Redness of the eyes.
- Diarrhea and vomiting.
- Nasal congestion.
- Difficulty in breathing.
As for food intolerances, however, these present similar symptoms, but much milder. Nonetheless, they can be very annoying. Among these we recognize:
- Abdominal pain.
- Swollen and tight abdomen.
Symptoms of allergies usually appear within 30 to 60 minutes of ingesting the food and can be very serious. On the contrary, the symptoms of intolerances may take longer to appear and are of lesser intensity.
After having exposed the main differences between food allergies and intolerances, it is time to introduce you to the most common intolerances.
1. Lactose intolerance
This intolerance is due to the inability of the digestive system to digest lactose, the sugar present in milk. This food intolerance is caused by the body’s low production of an enzyme called lactase.
Lactase is the enzyme in charge of digesting and, consequently, of ensuring the correct absorption of lactose by the body.
Lactose intolerance can be a transient or permanent condition.
2. Gluten intolerance or celiac disease
Gluten is a glucoprotein found in many foods, such as wheat, oats or barley. In gluten intolerance, the small intestine is unable to digest it and, consequently, an inflammatory reaction occurs in the intestine. This type of intolerance is permanent and lasts for a lifetime.
It is an autoimmune basic food intolerance whose main symptoms are the following:
- Loss of weight and appetite.
- Nausea and vomit.
- Diarrhea .
- Loss of muscle mass.
3. Sucrose intolerance
This pathology consists of intolerance to refined sugar. It is due to the lack of an enzyme called sucrase. This deficit makes proper digestion of sucrose difficult. The direct consequence is the appearance of common symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence or abdominal pain.
4. Fructose intolerance
Fructose is the sugar found in fruit, some vegetables and honey. If the intestine is unable to digest this type of sugar, you will notice the typical symptoms of food intolerances after ingesting the mentioned foods.
It is very important to consult a specialist if you suspect that you have a food intolerance. This condition, in fact, can cause you many health problems, due to the poor absorption of the nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
In some cases, specialized studies are required and will be recommended by the doctor to identify the triggering agent of the disorder and follow an appropriate treatment.