A food intolerance - food intolerance - manifests itself in physical complaints occurring regularly after eating certain foods. Symptoms occur because the body lacks the tools to properly process these substances. Affected people can be tested if there is a suspicion that they have a food intolerance.
Various food components and ingredients - whether natural or artificial - can cause an intolerance reaction. However, certain substances are particularly often responsible for intolerances. These include lactose, gluten, fructose, histamine and glutamate.
A person suffers from food intolerance when specific foods or their components cause symptoms that would normally be digested without problems. There are different mechanisms. In general, one speaks of a food intolerance when the body cannot properly digest and absorb a food component. Instead, it is broken down into breakdown products that cause discomfort. The reason for this is usually an enzyme deficiency or defect. This is in contrast to food allergies. Here the body's own immune system reacts overly sensitively to the actually harmless ingredients of certain foods. Some ingredients do not trigger allergies, but so-called pseudo-allergies. The difference is that the substances activate the immune system in a different way, but the symptoms are very similar or even the same.
A food intolerance usually triggers typical digestive problems after eating an appropriate food. Weight loss or deficiency symptoms can also occur in the long term. In addition to general digestive problems, there are also symptoms of food intolerance that go beyond the gastrointestinal tract. How exactly a food intolerance manifests itself varies from person to person. Typical symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- stomach ache
- Weight loss
- nausea & vomiting
Nowadays, food intolerances receive far more attention than they did a few decades ago. However, this also leads to an overestimation of their frequency. Appropriate testing can be done to determine if the cause of recurring indigestion is actually a food intolerance. This is the only way to make a reliable diagnosis. Examples of tests are the H2 breath test or the lactose tolerance test to test for lactose intolerance. If the suspicion is confirmed, the patients must adjust their diet so that the triggering substances are no longer consumed.
Difference between allergy and intolerance:
You've probably asked yourself what the difference is between an allergy and an intolerance - we'll explain it to you here:
Because there is an important difference! If you have a food intolerance or intolerance, the immune system is not active. These intolerances usually arise because the body lacks certain enzymes or transport molecules that are needed to break down or absorb certain food components. These components usually include lactose, fructose or histamine.
An allergy, on the other hand, is an overreaction of the immune system to a non-harmful foreign substance, such as nuts or pollen.