Food intolerances are non-immunological adverse reactions of the body to certain foods and additives. These reactions occur because of established disorders, so they do not develop suddenly, as with allergies. There may be sensitization to allergens and produce a sudden reaction to food to which one was not previously allergic.
Food intolerances generate difficulty in digesting and absorbing substances or nutrients in food. And these do have factors that can promote or trigger them; however, these factors are already established or interfere gradually. They do not occur suddenly. Among them are:
- Genetic factors. Intolerances can derive directly from the genetic predisposition of the person. An example of this is gluten intolerance.
- Toxins are naturally contained in food. An example of this is some legumes containing substances that inhibit the enzymes for digesting the proteins in these foods. However, when consumed cooked, these substances are inactivated, and they do not generate damage. Still, in soy, milk is usually consumed raw, and after consuming large quantities for a prolonged period, it can cause intolerance.
- Food additives. These are substances that are added to processed foods (preservatives, colorants, emulsifiers, flavorings) and do not change the nutritional value of the food. They are foreign to the body, unable to eliminate them; therefore, they accumulate in the organs, and intolerance may develop.
These three examples explain the three mechanisms by which food intolerances occur:
- By the deficit of the enzymes necessary for the process of digestion and absorption of food.
- Because of the prolonged consumption and in large quantities of foods containing chemical substances that the organism cannot eliminate, accumulation generates damage.
- That combines the two previous ones or is not well defined.
Intolerances do not occur suddenly; they take approximately one day to produce symptoms of discomfort that are unclear and unspecific. So, it can be confused or associated with another pathology or medical condition. They predominate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, flatulence, heaviness, heartburn, reflux, nausea, vomiting. It can also generate dry skin, hives, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and other non-specific symptoms.
That food intolerances do not occur suddenly makes them much less dangerous than allergies. Allergies produce symptoms within minutes and can be life-threatening.
People suffering from food intolerance are advised to eliminate from their diet the food that generates the adverse reactions to avoid their symptoms, which are quite annoying, and thus have a better quality of life. However, depending on the case, those who have a food intolerance can consume them in small amounts without fear of a serious adverse reaction; unlike allergies, they must avoid them at all costs regardless of the amount.
If you suspect or want to know if you have a food intolerance or food allergy, feel free to contact us. We can advise the tests you can undergo to know for sure and avoid adverse reactions and symptoms. Knowledge is the best way to prevent it.