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What are the Most Common Food Intolerances?


While food intolerances and sensitivities are not dangerous as such, they can create severe problems and discomfort to the persons affected. Food sensitivities and intolerances are a huge issue: it is calculated that up to 20% of the total world population may suffer from such an intolerance, and the occurrence of these sensitivities seem to be on the rise.

There are many symptoms associated with food intolerances and sensitivities and this means that they may be harder to diagnose.


Is a Food Intolerance different to a Food Allergy?


When we talk about “food hypersensitivity”, we are referring to both food intolerances and food allergies


If you have a food intolerance you may experience difficulty in digesting certain foods and you may also have a physical reaction that is unpleasant. Such intolerances may cause a variety of symptoms, including bloating and tummy pain and this usually happens a few hours after eating the particular food.


A food allergy is when your immune system reacts strangely to particular foods. Such allergies may give reactions that will range from mild to very serious. A food allergy can result in various symptoms affecting different areas of the body at the same time. Such allergies may manifest themselves in different symptoms including itchiness inside the mouth, throat or ears, but may be as serious as difficulty with breathing.



It can be difficult to distinguish between food allergies and food intolerances and that is why it important to consult your doctor if you think you may be suffering from either a food allergy or an intolerance.


Food intolerance symptoms usually kick in within a few hours of eating the specific food that is creating the intolerance. However, symptoms could emerge up to 48 hours after and last for hours or even days, This makes it very difficult to pinpoint the specific food that is causing the intolerance. To make matters worse, if you often eat these foods that you are intolerant to, it may be difficult to tie in the symptoms you are feeling to a particular food.


Symptoms and manifestations of food intolerances may vary but most often they will affect your gastrointestinal system, skin and respiratory system. These may include: diarrhea and bloating, nausea and abdominal pain, reflux, skin rashes and flushing of the skin, headaches and fatigue, and runny nose.


Here are 8 of the most common causes of food intolerances.

1. Dairy - found in milk and dairy products

2. Gluten - proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale

3. Caffeine - found in a wide variety of beverages, including coffee, soft drinks, tea and energy drinks.

4. Salicylates - natural chemicals found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, teas, coffee, spices, nuts and honey.

5. Amines –found in a wide variety of foods. Although there are many types of amines, histamine is most frequently associated with food-related intolerances.

6. FODMAPs - foods high in FODMAPs (sugars that may not be absorbed properly in the gut) include apples, soft cheeses, honey, milk, artichokes, bread, beans, lentils, beer.

7. Sulfites – include dried fruit, wine, apple cider, canned vegetables, pickled foods, condiments, potato chips, beer, tea, baked goods.

8. Fructose - a type of FODMAP; a simple sugar found in fruits and vegetables, as well as sweeteners like honey, agave and high-fructose corn syrup.



Food intolerances and allergies are two different conditions. Most intolerances do not trigger the immune system, and the symptoms are usually less severe. However, the impact on your health and on your life can be significant and should be taken seriously as it can really affect your quality of life. If you have a suspicion that you may be suffering from a food intolerance, we would recommend that you consult your doctor or dietitian to look into options available both to test and to treat these symptoms.


How can you diagnose your food intolerance?

This can be done by elimination diets, where you remove different foods that may trigger your intolerance for a period of time until symptoms subside. Then, foods are reintroduced one by one to see if and when symptoms return. In this way, you may be able to identify which foods are creating the intolerance and giving you the undesirable symptoms.


Alternatively, you may choose to perform a food intolerance test that may help expedite this process. Clinipath, has partnered with a UK organisation, Yorktest, to provide the premium Gold Food Intolerance Test, a comprehensive food and drink intolerance test which indicates whether you have a sensitivity to over 200 food and drink ingredients. In this way, you can find the root cause of your gut issues and fall back in love with food. You can read more about our Intolerance testing here.


If you would like more information about our Food Intolerance Testing, contact us today on +356 21221355, 9985 2404 or send an email on info@clinipath.com.mt.

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