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Meals Intolerance – News-Medical. net

By Dr . Liji Thomas, MARYLAND

Food intolerance may be described as an adverse non-immunologic chemical reaction in the body to a non-toxic component of food. This occurs in the absence of any structural abnormality of the digestive tract. It is not brought on by an antigen-antibody reaction, due to the defense mechanisms producing an abnormal reaction to a group of molecules in the food.

It may produce similar symptoms to mild food allergy. However , your ever cause the severe responses characteristic of food anaphylaxis, which is the most serious form of food allergy. It usually has prominent gastrointestinal symptoms, because it is caused by the body’s inability to digest or to absorb some parts of the food ingested. This really is due many times to specific enzymatic deficiencies.

A common example is lactose intolerance. Here the problem is not an immune reaction to milk protein or any other milk component. Instead, it is due to the absence of the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to hydrolyze lactose, the prominent sugar found in milk. The resulting accumulation associated with lactose in the gut increases the osmotically active content of the large intestine, and promotes the fermentation plus breakdown of lactose by the intestinal flora. The buildup of fermentation products in the intestines leads to bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

In a few cases, food intolerance may be due to the presence of certain amines in the food, which can cause effects on the vascular system, such as histamine.


Food intolerance may be signaled by the occurrence of migraines, rashes with raised red wheals plus pruritus, or bowel symptoms. It has also been linked to other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma or chronic fatigue.

The outward symptoms of food intolerance may not at all times occur immediately after eating or consuming the offending food. In many cases these are found to occur up to 12 – 24 hours afterwards. They are also dose-related, in order that it may not be easy to link the symptoms towards the foods that caused them. Quite simply, there is a threshold amount, which must be ingested for the food to produce symptoms of intolerance. Thus, a normal serving of food is often eaten before the indications of intolerance set in.

A more complete list of associated with food intolerance would contain:

  • Migraines or head aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremor or a feeling of anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Increase in the speed of respiration
  • Burning up sensations of the skin
  • Constriction of the chest or the face
  • Wheezing
  • Itching raised red skin rashes or other symptoms of allergy


The causes of food intolerance vary between people. In most cases people are sensitive to one or a few foods, but not to any or all. The reason for intolerance may include:

  • An enzyme deficiency leading to indigestion or malabsorption
  • The presence of pharmacologically active substances within food
  • The inborn errors of metabolism

The most common foods that generate chemical intolerance are:

  • Milk and milk products, for example yogurt or cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs, and particularly egg albumin
  • Flavor enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Strawberries, citrus along with tomatoes
  • Red wine
  • Food additives
  • Certain amines, such as histamine

Diagnosis and administration of food intolerance

Food intolerance is nonspecific simply by definition. The diagnosis is based on the observed reaction when suspected foods are excluded or deliberately launched into the diet.

The particular safest and easiest way to prevent the outward symptoms of food intolerance is to prevent exposure to the food. However , in some cases, it is possible to induce tolerance under medical guidance. This may be done by stopping the food for some time, and later reintroducing it in small doses.


Reviewed simply by Jonas Wilson, Ing. Med.

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