The 4 Most Common Food Sensitivities

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Food sensitivities are on the rise, with more and more people discovering triggers that cause adverse reactions when eating certain foods. While the reasons behind this increase are not fully understood, greater awareness and improved testing have led to more diagnoses. This allows individuals to adjust their diets accordingly and manage symptoms. The most prevalent food intolerances include gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy. Identifying problem foods is the first step toward regaining health and vitality.

  1. Gluten

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is one of the most common food intolerances. Reactions range from mild to severe, with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue and headaches after consuming gluten. For those with coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, adopting a strict gluten-free diet is essential. This requires vigilance, as gluten can lurk in unexpected places. Working with a gluten-free coach or coeliac coach like Ali Walsh can help identify sources of gluten and find suitable substitutions when dining out or shopping for groceries. Gluten-free products are increasingly available in UK supermarkets and restaurants, making it easier to avoid this problematic protein. With the proper adjustments, living gluten-free is entirely possible.

  1. Dairy

Dairy is another top food sensitivity, with symptoms including digestive issues, congestion, sinus problems and skin conditions. Lactose intolerance, affecting 65% of the global population, is the most common cause of dairy issues. This occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase enzyme to break down milk sugar. Switching to lactose-free milk and dairy products can help, as can taking lactase enzyme supplements. Casein and whey, milk proteins, are other potential culprits. A dairy-free diet eliminates milk-based foods entirely. With plant-based milk, cheese and yoghurt now widely available in the UK, omitting dairy from your diet is more convenient than ever.

  1. Eggs
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Eggs are packed with essential nutrients. However, they also contain proteins that can trigger immune responses in sensitive individuals. Symptoms include hives, eczema, nausea, diarrhoea and oral allergy syndrome. Those with egg allergies must avoid all egg products entirely. For others with milder egg sensitivities, certain cooking techniques may help reduce reactions. Lightly cooking eggs makes them easier to digest. Thoroughly cooking foods that contain small amounts of egg, like baked goods, can also lessen adverse effects. Consult an allergy specialist for guidance on safe egg intake levels.

  1. Soy

Soy is found in many processed foods, making sensitivity a tricky issue to navigate. As a common allergen, soy can cause hives, itching, runny nose and digestive woes. Soy contains proteins similar to those found in peanuts, another top allergen, so cross-reactivity is common. Reading ingredient labels is key to identify hidden soy, which is used as a filler, stabiliser and emulsifier. Opt for naturally soy-free whole foods and check for soy lecithin, a common additive, in packaged products. With soy increasingly used in meat substitutes, those following plant-based diets must take particular care when sourcing soy-free options.

Food sensitivities are highly individualised, making it essential to pinpoint your own problematic foods. Getting tested, keeping a symptom diary and undertaking elimination diets can all help identify triggers. Once key intolerances are determined, adjustments to your diet can be made.