The 8 Most Common Types of Food Allergies

If you are one of the many that happen to have some type of food intolerance, you know what it’s like to live one. It makes finding something to eat more difficult while eating out. Or if you’ve just recently found out that you have one, it can be challenging to adjust your eating habits. 

Do you know what a food intolerance is? You may not realize that you have one, but do find that you often feel unwell after eating some meals. Knowing and understanding symptoms can go far in helping you to feel better and eat better. We’ve compiled some information for you so that you can start eating foods that won’t make you sick. 

What Is A Food Allergy or Intolerance? 

It is important to note that there are varying degrees of being hypersensitive to foods. For some people, their allergy can send them to the hospital and can even be fatal. For others, intolerance makes them feel uncomfortable with different symptoms [1], but they probably won’t need to do anything more than avoiding the food that they have an intolerance to. 

Food intolerance symptoms typically include the following: 

  • Rashes
  • Bloated stomach
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Cold symptoms
  • Skin flushing
  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Fatigue

A severe allergy may look a bit different and require immediate action. The following are symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to foods:

  • A hive breakout.
  • Shortness of breath. If you find that you suddenly have a hard time catching your breath and start coughing or your airways tightening, this could very well be a symptom of a serious allergy. 
  • You may start feeling very itchy. 
  • Your lips may swell immediately. 
  • Immediate stomach pain shortly after eating food. Diarrhea or severe nausea are symptoms of anaphylaxis, which is what happens to your body when you have a severe allergy. 

Common Foods That Cause Food Intolerance And Allergies

To help you understand your body better and avoid serious discomfort, here are the most common food intolerances:

1. Dairy

If your body has a shortage of lactase enzymes, you could be unable to digest dairy foods. The average body has an enzyme known as lactase, which helps you to absorb any foods or drinks with lactose. When you don’t have enough, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Stomachaches 

Lactose intolerance is one of the most common ones out there [2]. In fact, more than 60% of people have some type of intolerance to dairy. Fortunately, this intolerance can be diagnosed quite easily through a stool test or breath test. It will do you well to find out if you have it, so you can avoid stomach discomfort, which are the primary symptoms of this type of intolerance. 

2. Gluten

Things like wheat, barley, and various grains fall under the category of gluten. There are varying degrees of sensitivity, from non-celiac to celiac disease. Celiac disease is the more serious of the two as it an autoimmune disease, and prolonged consumption of gluten can have an effect on your health and digestive system [3]. 

Sensitivity to gluten can cause some similar reactions to gluten, but at a milder level. The symptoms of gluten intolerance are:

  • Bloating
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Anemia

As you can see, the reactions go a bit further your average lactose intolerance, which is one reason gluten-free food has become such a big thing. People with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease need to stay away from bread, pasta, beer, cereals, baked goods, crackers, and any kind of sauces made from gluten-based ingredients.

And for your athletic performance, you should always opt for gluten-free protein shakes.  

3. Caffeine 

The average person can drink coffee just fine. Then, there are those who may have hypersensitivity to caffeine. As a stimulant, it’s supposed to cause a change in you but only to the point that is comfortable. What happens when someone has an intolerance to caffeine? Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Fast heartbeat

While these aren’t life-threatening, they can be uncomfortable and affect your lifestyle [4]. If you feel these symptoms often and are trying to find out why to consider cutting back on caffeinated drinks and foods.

4. Sulfites

Sulfites are found in food, but they aren’t an ingredient that you would normally eat. They are preservatives that are used in many processed foods to avoid fermentation or spoilage. Many people are just fine with them, but then there are some who are intolerant to them. You’ll often find sulfites in foods like dried fruit, jams, beer, tea, pickled foods, and different drinks as well. The following are the common symptoms that happen when someone has a sulfite intolerance:

  • Skin swelling
  • Flushed skin
  • Hypotension
  • Coughing and Wheezing
  • Cold symptoms
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea

For some, these symptoms may be minor, while for those with asthma, the reaction can be serious [5]. The good thing is that most packaged foods and drinks have sulfite listed on the label as it is required by the FDA. 

5. Fructose

Fructose isn’t something that people think of right away when they think of food intolerance, but this sugar has actually caused a lot of issues in people’s health [6], with intolerance bringing a myriad of unpleasant symptoms. The following are just a few of the ways that a fructose intolerance can make itself known:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Reflux
  • Bloat

The thing about fructose is that it can be found in a variety of foods that are in many people’s diets. For example, honey, apples, agave, soda, and even watermelon and snap peas all have fructose in them. 

6. Amines

Amines are found in a number of fermented foods. There are several types of amines, but a common one that causes uncomfortable symptoms when one is intolerant to it is histamine [7]. Histamine is a chemical that has a part in your nervous, immune, and digestive system. 

If you don’t have an intolerance to histamine, you easily metabolize it, but the problem comes when you do have an intolerance. The symptoms are typically: 

  • Skin flushing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Anxiety
  • Hives

If you suspect you have an intolerance to amines, or more specifically histamine, you should try to avoid a variety of foods from citrus fruits to avocados, aged cheeses, soured foods, smoked fish, and more. This type of intolerance does mean you have to watch what you eat a lot more than you would otherwise, due to the fact that histamine is present in a variety of foods.

7. Salicylates

Produced by plants, this natural chemical can be found in a variety of foods like vegetables, coffee, nuts, and honey [8]. They can actually be beneficial for people’s health in some cases. While too much of it isn’t good for anyone, those with an intolerance may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Cold symptoms 
  • Sinus issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloat
  • Hives

Unlike other foods and substances, salicylates are impossible to avoid. But, it can definitely help to avoid foods high in this chemical, such as raisins, spices, oranges, and more. 

8. FODMAPs

Simply put, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are present in many foods. Many of the foods containing FODMAPs cause stomach discomfort, and draw water into your stomach, which leads to digestive issues such as tummy-aches or diarrhea. Some other intolerance symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomachaches
  • Bloating
  • Constipation

People with IBS typically have FODMAP intolerance [9]. If you suspect that you may have an intolerance to FODMAP’s, then avoid foods like soft cheeses, honey, milk, apples, artichokes, beer, bread, and beans, to name a few foods that contain them. 

Other Food Intolerances And Allergies

While the above-mentioned allergies are definitely the ones that appear more often, there are other foods that some people might have hypersensitivity to:

  • MSG-Most people try to avoid this anyway as it’s not really good for anyone’s health, but for those with an intolerance, it can mean hives, chest pain, and headaches.
  • Eggs-Not very common but uncomfortable for those who do, some people are allergic to eggs and end up with diarrhea, stomach pain, and sometimes acid reflux.
  • Food coloring-Surprisingly, some people experience intolerance to food coloring with reactions like hives, a stuffy nose, and even swelling of the skin.
  • Yeast-Yeast intolerance usually affects the digestive system, and while the issues may not be very serious, they can be uncomfortable. 
  • Nuts: Some people are seriously allergic to nuts, to the point where they can’t even be near them without touching them. 

Final Thoughts

Understanding various food intolerances and symptoms can help you know if you need to change something in your diet. As long as you don’t have a life-threatening allergy, you’ll need to change some things about what you eat but not worry so much. There are typically over-the-counter meds that you can take that help to minimize symptoms.

If you do have a serious allergy, it can take completely changing what you and your family eat, where you eat, and how you eat. It can take some time getting used to, but once you understand how to navigate it, it will become a routine. If you suspect you have an intolerance or allergy, make sure to get tested so you can avoid uncomfortable symptoms and live a healthier, happier life. 

Kate Young

Hi there, I’m Kate Young and I’m a fitness coach from California, but I now live in Austin. I have been involved in so many different sports over the years, including swimming, running, athletics, gymnastics, rugby (yeas, you read that right), baseball, tennis, and so many more that I have lost count.

I just love competing in sports, but struggled to find the one that I would stick with. So, instead I decided to become a fitness coach as it allows me to work with so many different types of athletes.

I’ve also become heavily involved it diet. The reason for this is that I’ve seen too many athletes fail in their fitness goals because their diet didn’t support it. And I’ve seen just as many people fail in their diets, because their fitness activities weren’t effective.

A lot of my work has involved working up with college tennis teams where I have tailored some endurance type fitness programs. Tennis coaches are great at teaching techniques, but a lot of them struggle with general fitness levels.

And that’s where I come in. On this site I contribute to anything tennis, fitness and diet related, which will help you get to your goals quicker and with more ease. And if you have some very specific questions then why not reach out on one of the social media channels where all of us are very active.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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