The 3 Most Common Food Intolerances

Many of the people reading this article will have personal experience of food intolerance. The number of people reporting trouble digesting certain foods or who believe that they suffer from adverse reactions to food types has risen drastically in the last few years according to the National Health Service. More than 20% of the population in industrialized nations suffer from some form of food intolerance.

Genuine Food Intolerances

It is, however, often difficult to ascertain whether you have a genuine food intolerance. The common symptoms of food intolerances – bloating, rashes and wind – can also be caused by other issues such as dietary imbalance, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. Because of the often ambiguous nature of food intolerance, an industry has sprung up that provides intolerance testing to people concerned that they might have developed issues with certain food types. Companies like Intolerance Lab are able to test for hundreds of different food intolerances using simple testing procedures. The results can be helpful – letting a patient know which foods to avoid. Tests that are offered by private companies are not always 100 percent reliable and if you still feel bloated and unwell after cutting out the foods you test positive for intolerance of, consult a doctor for a health check. You may be referred to an allergen specialist at a local hospital.

Some food intolerances are far more prevalent than others. Interestingly, intolerances and allergies may have to do with the diets of our distant ancestors – our consumption of cultivated foods and animal products is extremely divergent from the prehistoric diet. Here is a very brief guide to the 3 most common food intolerances.


It is estimated that 65% of the world’s population has an intolerance to Lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. It is broken down by an enzyme known as lactase. In a lactose intolerant person, the lactase enzyme is produced in insufficient amounts, meaning that your body has serious trouble breaking down the sugars in milk, cheese and yoghurt.


Intolerance to gluten – a protein found in wheats, barley and rye – takes a few different forms. People who suffer from celiac disease are allergic to gluten because their body has an immunochemical reaction – when gluten is consumed, their immune system attacks healthy tissue in their small intestine by mistake, which can cause great discomfort. A gluten intolerance is less severe but can still be debilitating in its effects. If you test positive for a gluten intolerance you should consult a doctor so that you can be tested for celiac disease.


Caffeine can make you feel more alert, more awake and stop you from falling asleep in class. The things that make caffeine attractive to most people make it very, very unattractive to people with caffeine intolerance. People with an intolerance to the stimulant can feel anxious, shaky, sweaty and have abnormally fast heartbeats. An intolerance to caffeine is the result of the body being unable to successfully metabolize it.

Kelly Tate