“Food intolerance, also known as … mediated food hypersensitivity … refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods. It is important to note that food intolerance is different from food allergy.” ~ Christian Nordqvist, University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine
Is there some food that just doesn’t “sit right” that you haven’t been able to put your finger on?
You may have a food intolerance (aka, “food sensitivity.”)
Please note that a food intolerance is not a food allergy. A food allergy is one that affects the immune system, which is – in general – the more dangerous of the two conditions. The problem with identifying an adverse reaction to foods is that the two conditions often have overlapping symptoms.
The “unofficial” rule-of-thumb: if symptoms are quick, it’s an allergy. Otherwise, it’s intolerance.
Usually, a food intolerance will affect the digestive system. Other common symptoms include cough, headaches, migraines.
The most common foods associated with food sensitivity include dairy products, legumes, or gluten (found in wheat products.)
Here are 11 signs you may have a hidden food sensitivity
1. You run to the toilet a lot
If you are always on the lookout for bathrooms, you may have a food sensitivity. By far, the most common symptoms of a food intolerance are of the gastrointestinal variety.
Bloating, diarrhea, excessive flatulence, and abdominal pain are the cruxes of many-a-food-intolerant person.
2. You experience bouts of muscle or joint pain
According to a study published in the journal Clinical Rheumatology, half of all fibromyalgia patients report worsening of symptoms following the consumption of certain foods.
While we can’t link worsening of muscle or joint symptoms outside of fibromyalgia, it’s certainly possible that “trigger foods” may worsen joint or muscle pain in people prone to such symptoms.
3. Caffeine makes things worse
Everyone metabolizes caffeine differently. For “slow metabolizers,” that cup of joe or spot of tea is less likely to feel satisfying.
That’s because caffeine is a stimulant – it excites the central nervous system (CNS). For individuals with a caffeine sensitivity, this may lead to digestive problems, higher blood pressure (hypertension), excessive sweating, and even an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. You get headaches or migraines
Aside from digestive problems, headaches and migraines may be the most commonly cited complaint.
If you always seem to get a headache after eating a certain type of food, it’s safe to bet there’s some kind of intolerance. It’s important to remember that headaches most frequently occur several hours after finishing a food or meal.
5. You’re always tired
There may be a link between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and dietary patterns.
CFS is “a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest.” The condition can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition, which makes it more difficult to treat.
Medical research has linked leaky gut syndrome and gluten intolerance to CFS.
6. Wheat doesn’t sit right
A condition called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance, occurs in up to 13 percent of people who test negative for celiac disease. Unlike gluten intolerance, celiac disease can be uncovered with traditional medical testing.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance are similar to those of celiac disease, including digestive stress and other gastrointestinal problems.
7. You have an underactive thyroid
Hypothyroidism is the medical term used to describe an underactive thyroid, and is caused by an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s disease. It’s estimated that over 15 percent of individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s suffer some kind of food intolerance.
To add to the confusion, gluten-free diets have demonstrated a positive counteractive effect against hypothyroidism. Thus, it’s believed that gluten – and potentially wheat, in general – is more frequently experienced in those with an underactive thyroid.
8. Dairy upsets your tummy
Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 65 percent of people have some kind of lactose intolerance. Astonishingly, this number exceeds 90 percent in people of East Asian descent.
Symptoms produced by lactose intolerance are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and include cramping, abdominal pain, excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting.
9. You have skin troubles
It took a while for the medical community to link food sensitivities to certain skin conditions. After conducting a variety of studies, scientists have linked skin reactions to the food chemicals salicylate and histamine.
Eczema, or irritation and inflammation of the skin, is the most common skin condition related to food sensitivity. Peppers and tomatoes are the two foods eaten by patients who experience a skin reaction.
10. Garlic and onions are a no-no
A group of sugar alcohols and short-chain carbohydrates, called FODMAP’s cause an (food) additive or “additive-like” effect in the gut.
Scientific and medical research link FODMAP’s to irritable bowel syndrome and related gastrointestinal problems.
Of all foods, onions and garlic are the biggest troublemakers. This is probably because both are so commonly used to add flavor during cooking.
11. Arthritis feels worse
Inflammation from food sensitivities is commonly cited by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients as a trigger for worsening symptoms.
Because of the complex mix of environmental triggers (including diet) and genetics, the link between RA and food sensitivity is quite arbitrary.
However, it’s advisable to abstain from foods that you feel may worsen any arthritic symptoms.