Food Intolerances


Food Intolerances


What is an intolerance?

An intolerance refers to your digestive system and how well it can digest certain foods. If you are intolerant to a certain food it may irritate the digestive system. An intolerance may have similar symptoms to a food allergy, however, they are not the same. When you are intolerant to a certain food, symptoms usually begin within a few hours of eating it.


However, symptoms can be delayed by up to 48 hours and last for hours or possibly days, which makes it very hard to pinpoint the offending food. On the other hand, you may not even notice the symptoms, or if you are frequently consuming the foods which you are intolerant to, it may be hard to associate the symptoms to the specific food.


Food Intolerance Symptoms


While symptoms of food intolerances vary from person to person, they mainly involve the digestive system, skin and respiratory system. Common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • A runny nose
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Rashes


What’s the difference between an intolerance and an allergy?


A food allergy occurs when there is a reaction from the body’s immune system, as it sees the food as an attack. This will then cause an allergic reaction, which in return the immune system will release chemicals like histamine. This can cause a variety of symptoms from mild reactions to life-threatening situations. In comparison, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and are often only cause discomfort.


Symptoms of a food allergy include breathing problems, throat tightness, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, hives, swelling or lowered blood pressure.


What foods are people most likely to be intolerant too?


1) Lactose (Dairy)

Many people are lactose intolerant, making it one of the most common food sensitivities. Lactose is a sugar, which is found in milk and dairy products. It is broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is necessary for the lactose to be digested and absorbed properly. Being lactose intolerant is caused by a shortage of lactase enzymes, as a result, it can no longer be digested properly and can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and nausea.


2) Gluten

There are several conditions related to gluten, these include celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gluten refers to the proteins which are found in wheat, rye and barley. If you are intolerant to gluten you can experience symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation, headaches, fatigue and skin rashes. Because gluten is common in many foods, it can be difficult to avoid as it is found in bread, pasta, cereals, beer, baked goods, sauces, dressing, gravies and especially soy sauce.

Celiac disease involves the immune system. If gluten is eaten the immune system attacks the small intestine, which can cause serious harm to the digestive system. They have similar symptoms to gluten intolerances.


3) Caffeine

Many people have an intolerance to caffeine. It is found in many beverages like coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and energy drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it reduces fatigue and increases alertness.  This happens by blocking the receptors for adenosine which is a neurotransmitter that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.


Most adults are able to consume 400mg of caffeine a day safely without any side effects, this is about 4 cups of coffee. However, some people are more sensitive to caffeine and can experience symptoms even after consuming a small amount. These symptoms can include, increased heartbeat, anxiety, jitters, insomnia, nervousness and restlessness.


4) Alcohol

After consuming alcohol it is fairly common to experience allergy symptoms (not just hangover symptoms)! This can happen when your body is reacting to a particular type of alcohol. For example, those with an intolerance to gluten may not be able to drink beer without similar reactions when eating gluten. Other ingredients in alcohol which can cause issues include histamine, yeast, flavourings and other additives.


5) Eggs

If you are intolerant to eggs, you may not be able to handle the egg white, or the yolk or both. It’s important to remember that chickens are fed a soy-based diet, so, therefore, you may be sensitive to soy, rather than eggs. Choosing eggs from grass-fed, free range and organic animals can help you determine which element you are sensitive to. Eggs are found in baked goods, pasta, mayonnaise, ice cream and some bread. If you do suffer symptoms, tofu, flax seeds, bananas and yoghurt make great egg alternatives.

Will removing food intolerances help my training?

Yes! As written above, there are many symptoms which could be affecting your training. By removing these foods your sleep patterns may improve and also energy levels. You may also see improvements in skin health, mental clarity and improved performance in and out of the gym. It’ll also increase your ability to reduce body fat as you’ll have the energy to complete each workout. With bloating, fatigue, brain fog and indigestion now not occurring on a daily basis, you’ll not be forced to skip a workout as the food intolerance has been removed.


Food intolerances differ from allergies. Although intolerances are usually less serious than food allergies, it is important to take the steps to identify food intolerances in order to prevent unwanted symptoms and health issues. You can begin by using the elimination diet or look out for our blog next week all about Life Lab Tests.


** If you are experiencing any severe symptoms we advise you to consult your GP**

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