From bloating and IBS to migraines and joint pain, food intolerance causes misery and uncomfortable symptoms for thousands of people. We look at the symptoms, causes and treatments.

It is estimated that around 45%* of the UK population are affected by food intolerance. The body’s abnormal reaction to certain foods, it can cause gastrointestinal upsets such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, diarrhoea, as well as migraines, fatigue and joint pain. Although not life-threatening, the uncomfortable symptoms can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life.

Food intolerance† is characterised as a delayed onset food reaction as symptoms can take several hours, and often, even days, to develop. The body produces food-specifi c IgG antibodies as a defence against certain ingredients that may not agree with you. A reaction manifests when incompletely digested food particles enter the bloodstream and are treated as foreign substances – antibodies attack the food in question and can generate an infl ammatory response. Many people confuse an intolerance with an allergy, but the two are very different. Potentially lifethreatening and quite rare, the immune response that causes an allergic reaction happens soon after consuming specifi c foods such as peanuts or shellfi sh and it affects around 2% of the population.

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