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Do you have a food intolerance or an allergy?

The term “intolerance” is thrown around a lot nowadays with gluten-free and lactose-free foods regarded as somewhat of a trend rather than the absolute necessity that they are for those with a true intolerance.

What is a food intolerance?

Sometimes known as a hypersensitivity, a food intolerance means that a person faces problems or struggles to digest certain foods or food groups. This results in a number of unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms, but is usually less severe than a food allergy, with which intolerances can often be confused.

How does a food intolerance differ from an allergy?

Generally the symptoms of food intolerance will take longer to show up, around 48 hours, than an allergy which often has an almost immediate effect on the body when that food has been consumed. An allergy actually triggers a reaction in the immune system which can sometimes be very dangerous, such as in the case of nut allergies that result in anaphylaxis, whereas an intolerance does not have this same histamine response.

Symptoms of food intolerance

The symptoms that an individual experiences when they are intolerant to a specific food or food group can be very unique to them or to the type of food they’re consuming, however there are a few symptoms which seem to be common between them:

  • Bloating and abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Hives or rashes
  • Cough
  • Irritable bowel

Causes of food intolerance

The most common foods that present an issue for digestion are:

  • Gluten
  • Wheat
  • Lactose (dairy products)
  • Caffeine
  • Histamine
  • Artificial additives

The reason behind each of these intolerances can differ greatly, but the main causes are:

  • Lack of certain enzymes such as lactase in a dairy intolerance.
  • Higher susceptibility to certain chemicals.
  • Food poisoning which has resulted in a highly level of toxins in the body.

How can you tell if you have an intolerance or allergy?

In addition to telling the difference between an intolerance or an allergy, since many of the symptoms overlap, identifying which particular food is causing your body to react in such a way can be very tricky.

Doctors recommend keeping careful food and symptom diaries detailing everything they consume and experience. You can then begin to eliminate foods in your diet one by one that you suspect are causing issues in your digestion, until you have narrowed it down to a specific food or food type. The problem with this is that it can be a long drawn out process that results in experiencing the unpleasant symptoms for a longer period of time.

In terms of medical testing, you have a few different options. Lactose and coeliac disease are able to be picked up by tests run by your doctor, but you can also try a DNA nutrition test such as NutriQlu which can provide insights into your personal sensitivities and intolerances.

What can you do about a food intolerance?

In the vast majority of cases, most people with an intolerance just tend to simply avoid the offending food. Our NutriQlu test not only allows you to better understand your genetic predisposition towards a certain sensitivity or intolerance, but it can also be used to create a meal plan and diet devised specifically for your needs. This will allow you to avoid any uncomfortable reactions in day to day life.

There are also some options in the form of supplements that will allow a person with intolerances to consume the food they’re sensitive to. For example, a lactose intolerant person can take lactase enzyme tablets that will help their digestive system better deal with the substance. It’s important to refer to a medical specialist before taking these supplements though to see if it’s the best option for you.

No matter which path you choose to deal with sensitivities or intolerances in your diet, it’s all about keeping your body healthy and you feeling good enough to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.


Our NutriQlu test will unlock the secrets of your DNA to identify genetic predispositions for food intolerances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, ideal exercise type and more.

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