Food intolerance symptoms?

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Food intolerance is a negative physical reaction to certain foods or drinks, often causing gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes, breathing problems, or chronic headaches. It is different from food allergies, which are immune responses to perceived threats. Common intolerances include lactose and gluten, and eliminating these foods from the diet is usually the best treatment.

Food intolerance is a negative physical reaction to a certain food or drink. This can come from a compound that is naturally part of the food or drink, such as the lactose in milk, or it can come from a chemical additive, preservative, or toxin such as bacteria. Symptoms of food intolerance can vary, but often come on slowly and usually involve gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, nausea, or diarrhea. Other symptoms of food intolerance can be skin rashes, breathing problems or chronic headaches.

Many people mistake food intolerance for food allergies, even though they are two different things. A food allergy is actually an immune response launched by a person’s body to fight off what the body perceives as a threat. Some common foods that induce food allergies are peanuts, eggs, shellfish and wheat products. Food allergy symptoms are usually more severe and more sudden than food intolerance symptoms, such as swelling of the throat, requiring immediate medical attention. Other food allergy symptoms include an itchy rash, heart palpitations, mental confusion, severe nausea and diarrhea, and chest pain.

Food intolerance commonly involves the inability to process a certain type of compound or chemical. Lactose intolerance, or the inability to digest lactose, is relatively common, and people with this intolerance experience the typical digestive symptoms listed above when they consume dairy products. Another relatively common food intolerance is intolerance to gluten, a protein commonly found in grains, breads and pastas. In addition to digestive problems, people with gluten intolerance can also experience headaches, weight changes, fatigue or even depression.

While the symptoms of food intolerance are less severe than food allergies and usually don’t require immediate medical attention, the chronic onset of these symptoms can have long-lasting effects. Since many types of food intolerances lead to gastrointestinal problems, this means that many foods eaten alongside the offending food may not be absorbed properly. Over time, this can lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Food intolerance is more difficult to diagnose than a food allergy because it does not involve the production of antibodies. The best way to understand the source of symptoms is to keep a diary of all foods eaten and all symptoms over a period of time. Eliminating these foods from the diet is usually the best treatment for food intolerance symptoms, although some intolerances can be improved with specialty food products, such as milk or dairy products specially made for people with lactose intolerance.

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