The Most Common Types of Food and Beverage Intolerance

In addition to food allergies, some people can also experience intolerance. There are several substances in food and drink that most often cause intolerance reactions in the body. What are these substances and foods and drinks?

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is a condition when the body cannot digest certain food or drink substances. This is not an immune response or the immune system, but a chemical reaction between food substances in the body and digestive conditions.

When a person has an intolerance to a substance in a food or drink, symptoms can appear several hours after consumption, and can even appear 48 hours after consuming it.

The most common food intolerances

1. Milk and its products

In most people, milk and dairy products can cause an intolerance reaction. Included in dairy products are cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt. Symptoms of a dairy intolerance include:

  • stomach pain,
  • flatulence,
  • diarrhea,
  • bloated stomach, as well
  • nauseous.

There are two substances that can be the cause of some people experiencing intolerance to milk or its products, namely lactose and casein.

Lactose-type carbohydrates must first be broken down into simpler forms so that they can be absorbed by the body. This breakdown requires an enzyme called lactase. However, some people lack the enzyme lactase so they are lactose intolerant.


Dairy products basically also contain casein-type protein. This casein may be difficult to digest for some people, causing inflammation or swelling in the digestive system.

2. Gluten

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains such as wheat and barley. Some health conditions associated with gluten include celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

According to Medical News Today, non-celiac gluten sensitivity occurs when you don’t test positive for celiac disease but react negatively to gluten in your body.

It is not known how this happens, but people with this condition will show symptoms of intolerance such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, feeling tired, flatulence, and depression.

Foods that contain gluten include wheat flour, barley, bread, cereals, pasta, pastries made from wheat flour, and beer.

3. Histamine

Normally, histamine will be easily metabolized and produced by the body. Histamine is a chemical in the body that plays a role in the immune system, digestive system, and nervous system.

However, some people cannot break down histamine properly. The most common reason why people experience histamine intolerance is the disruption of the function of the enzyme that breaks down histamine

These enzymes are called diamine oxidase and N-methyltransferase. Histamine cannot be processed properly and carry out its normal functions. People with this histamine intolerance should avoid foods high in naturally occurring chemicals such as:

  • foods and beverages that are processed through¬†a fermentation process,
  • dried fruit,
  • tamarind,
  • avocado,
  • vinegar, and
  • smoked fish.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance include:

  • nervous,
  • headache,
  • itchy skin,
  • stomach cramps,
  • diarrhea, as well
  • low blood pressure (hypotension).

4. Caffeine

Caffeine is a bitter chemical found in a variety of beverages, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate. Most adults can consume 400 milligrams of caffeine or the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee a day.

Some people are very sensitive to the presence of caffeine even in very small amounts. People who have a high sensitivity to caffeine are usually due to genetic conditions and a decreased ability to metabolize caffeine.

So when caffeine enters the body, no matter how small the amount, it will still cause symptoms of caffeine intolerance, namely:

  • heart rate is getting faster,
  • nervous,
  • restless, and
  • insomnia.

5. Salicylates

Salicylate is a natural chemical substance produced by plants as a protection against environmental disturbances such as insects and diseases.

These chemicals are found in various types of foodstuffs such as fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, spices, nuts, and honey. In addition, salicylates are found in food preservatives and medicines.

Most people have no problem taking normal amounts of salicylates in the diet. However, some people are so sensitive to the presence of salicylates that they develop a salicylate intolerance.

No matter how small the number, they may experience:

  • nasal congestion,
  • sinus infection,
  • intestinal inflammation,
  • diarrhea, as well
  • asthma.

It is difficult to remove salicylates from the diet, so people with a salicylate intolerance should avoid foods high in salicylates such as spices, coffee, raisins, and oranges. Likewise with drugs containing salicylates.

6. Fructose

Fructose is a type of simple sugar found in fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, and corn syrup. In people with fructose intolerance, fructose cannot be efficiently absorbed into the blood.

As a result, the unabsorbed fructose accumulates in the large intestine. This fructose will be fermented by intestinal bacteria and cause indigestion. There are also symptoms that arise, namely:

  • bloated stomach,
  • diarrhea,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • stomach ache, and
  • bloated.

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