A.Vogel Talks Food intolerances

Find out all you need to know about food intolerances and how to combat those dreaded symptoms!


Alison Cullen
Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
@AVogelUK
Ask Ali

An introduction to food intolerances

Food intolerances are fairly common and occur because the digestive system is unable to break down or absorb certain food types. This is different from a food allergy which is a reaction of the immune system leading to inflammation.

Nevertheless, food intolerances often cause persistent and troublesome symptoms which can be hard to pinpoint. However, once the trigger or problem food has been identified, treatment is usually easy and successful.

What are the symptoms?

As our digestive systems are all slightly different, a food intolerance is often an individual condition. This means that everybody will experience slightly different symptoms. The most common of these are:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Stomach cramps
  • Changes in weight

Typically, symptoms begin around two hours after eating the trigger food. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify the type of food responsible, so it may be worth keeping a diary of food eaten against symptoms to help identify any which cause problems.

Lactose and dairy intolerance

This is perhaps one of the most common types of food intolerance. It is the result of the body being unable to produce enough lactase, an enzyme which breaks down lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in many dairy products.

Some people with a lactose intolerance cannot properly digest dairy products, and may also have intolerances to whey or casein. The result is bloating, loose bowel motions or even diarrhoea.

Through trialling different foods, you will learn what you are able to tolerate and what you need to avoid.

Gluten and wheat intolerance

Gluten is a protein which gives elasticity to dough. Normally it is broken down in the small intestine. However, some people struggle to digest gluten, and it irritates their digestive system.

In some cases, people may only be intolerant to wheat, but not other gluten-based food types such as barley or rye. If this is the case, eliminating wheat should reduce all symptoms.

Coeliac disease is not a food intolerance but an adverse reaction of the immune system to the presence of gluten. Unlike with a food intolerance, where a little gluten may be tolerated, coeliac patients must avoid all gluten.

Treatment of food intolerances

In most cases, food intolerances can be managed through diet. This largely involves avoiding or limiting consumption of trigger foods.

In some cases, food intolerances are caused by temporary damage to the small intestine. If this is the case, trigger foods should be able to be reintroduced to the diet once the intestine has recovered.

If you are following a restricted diet, it can be difficult to ensure that you are including enough vital vitamins and minerals. In some cases it may be worth taking food supplements to ensure you are keeping healthy.

Digestisan - Oral drops for indigestion

To relieve indigestion and flatulence. Also available in 50ml size. Fresh herb tincture.
More info

What's being asked

I seem to react badly to more and more foods – how can I find out which ones are bad for me and how can I avoid all the possible problem foods?

If you seem to be reacting to many foods then strengthening your digestive function is a better ...
Read more >

I am finding that I am allergic to wheat. My doctor has tested me and says that I do not have coeliac disease. What can I do?

This is quite a familiar story in the clinic. We find that many clients who have tested negative ...
Read more >

How good is your digestion?

Check the health of your digestive system using our simple test.

Check now

Here’s what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Digestion advisor, I recommend Digestisan with extracts of Artichoke and Peppermint, to help support your digestion.

Learn more

Did you know?

It's thought that gluten intolerance could be linked to the skin condition eczema, with some theorising that the connection lies in the patient's immune function.

Gluten and eczema

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

6 impressive health benefits of Prune Juice