What is food intolerance?

Food and nutrition

Published on 25 October 2019
by Isabelle Huot

Food allergy is distinguished from intolerance by the metabolic reaction triggered when eating. While an allergy provokes an immune system response that can lead to severe symptoms, intolerance is defined as a difficulty or inability to digest a food or molecule. As they are not properly digested, their presence in the digestive system can lead to various symptoms and discomfort. Moreover, a food allergy can be provoked by eating a tiny amount of allergenic protein, whereas it usually takes a normal portion of a food to cause symptoms of intolerance.


Am I intolerant?

At a time when dietary exclusions have become a real trend, many people diagnose themselves as intolerant without knowing if that’s really the case. While there’s no danger in choosing to avoid certain foods, it can be unnecessarily complicated or inconvenient. Unfortunately, diagnosing intolerance is often complex, especially if there are many of them.


Irritable bowel syndrome

When an individual suffers from multiple food intolerances, it could actually be irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic digestion and malabsorption problems can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms including constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. A nutritionist is the right person to modify your diet and significantly reduce symptoms. When excluding certain foods, make sure to replace them with others of a similar nutritional profile to avoid deficiencies. Beware of intolerance tests found on the web: very few are reliable!


Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition