What is food intolerance?

A food intolerance or sensitivity is an adverse reaction to a specific food which has been eaten.
Some food-related reactions may be caused by the enzyme deficiency or chemical sensitivity, whilst others are the result of an inappropriate response by the immune system.

Immune-related intolerances to specific foods have been linked to food-specific IgG antibodies through scientific studies, as the production of antibodies is one of the ways in which the immune system reacts to substances that adversely affect it.

What causes food intolerances to develop?

What causes food intolerances to develop is complex and not fully understood, but damage to the intestinal barrier wall is thought to play a role and allow undigested food proteins to enter the blood which provokes an elevated immune response.

The reasons for the development of food intolerances can vary from person to person but the following factors are thought to be involved:

  • inadequate digestion
  • altered gut microbiota
  • Parasites, yeast or bacterial intestinal infections
  • poor diet
  • Effects of drugs and medications such as antibiotics

What symptoms are associated with Food Intolerance?

Food intolerance is associated with a wide range of symptoms as well as many chronic conditions, such as:

  • Gastrointestinal – bloating, abdominal cramping, excessive flatulence, constipation and/or diarrhea, Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease
  • Respiratory – wheezing, asthma, sinusitis
  • Musculoskeletal – osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, muscle aches, fibromyalgia
  • Dermatological – urticaria, psoriasis, itchy skin, atopic dermatitis, acne, rosacea
  • Neurological – migraine, headache, impaired concentration, mood and behavioral changes, autism, anxiety, fatigue, hyperactivity

Allergy UK estimates that up to 45% of the population may suffer from one or more food intolerances.

Unlike food allergy which is a rapid and often severe and sometimes life-threatening immune response to consumption of a specific food, a food intolerance will develop over time and symptoms will appear as the immune system struggles to break down the immune complexes which result and accumulate in the body.
Although not life-threatening, food intolerance can have a significant effect on a sufferer’s quality of life, and it is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms can appear unrelated and the sufferer does not always associate their symptoms with the food they are eating.

Once problem foods are identified, following an elimination diet based on test results will often result in significant improvement in symptoms.

Measuring food-specific IgG antibodies from a blood sample is the most reliable way to identify foods that may be causing unexplained chronic symptoms.

Foodprint®, the Food Intolerance test from Cambridge Nutritional Sciences is the first step in identifying which foods may be causing an inappropriate immune response from a simple blood test.

For more information on the Foodprint® test and a list of the foods analysed, click here to download brochure

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