Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are digestive system disturbances caused by a food that may irritate your digestive system which you are unable to digest or breakdown.

The two most common food intolerances are of 'Lactose' and 'Gluten.'


Lactose is milk sugar which is digested by beta glucosidase lactase. Lactose intolerance is developed when the activity of this enzyme decreases which results in poor tolerance of milk and milk products. Some conditions such as diarrhoea and use of antibiotics may also render a person lactose intolerance temporarily

Symptoms associated

After consumption of milk and milk products a person with lactose intolerance may experience: 

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Flatulence, etc.

How to know if you have lactose intolerance

The common test to diagnose lactose intolerance is lactose breath hydrogen test. The second most common test is a blood test where a failure to raise blood glucose above a certain level may  suggests lactose maldigestion.

Tips to manage lactose intolerance

  • Consume dairy foods with meals rather than in between
  • Curd and buttermilk may be consumed without discomfort
  • Consume lactose free milk, ice cream and cheese if available
  • Read the label on the food products before consumption. Look out for words such as milk powder, lactose and lactose monohydrate



Gluten is a complex protein present in the outer layer of some grains, especially wheat. Some of the foods that contain gluten are whole wheat, barley, rye, oats etc.

Gluten intolerance is developed as a reaction to the gluten proteins present in wheat, oats, rye or barley.

The symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flatulence
  • Irritability
  • Headache, etc.

Foods that contain gluten: 

Grains such as whole wheat, barley, oats, rye etc. ;  grain based products such as biscuits, bread, noodles, pastas and beverages such as barley malt, malt vinegar, beer etc.

There are several gluten free products available in market which has similar qualities compared to their equivalent gluten- containing products for people who are sensitive to gluten.


A gluten-free diet requires the complete exclusion of gluten consisting products. It comprises only naturally gluten-free (GF) food products (e.g., legumes, fruit and vegetables, unprocessed meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) and/or substitutes of wheat-based foods, specially manufactured without gluten.

There are three conditions that require this gluten-free diet. They are:

  • Wheat allergy
  • Non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (NCGS)
  • Celiac disease (CD)

Wheat allergy is an immunologic reaction to wheat proteins especially common among children.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is the disorder that individuals may show upon ingestion of cereal proteins, with improvements seen in your symptoms when these are removed from diet.

Celiac Disease is a chronic, small-intestinal immune-mediated enteropathy characterized by specific antibodies against tissue transglutaminase 2 (anti-TG2), endomysium, and/or deamidated gliadin peptide.

Tips to manage gluten intolerance

  • Avoid food products such as bread, biscuits, cookies, pasta etc., made from wheat, oats, rye or barley.
  • Include foods that are made from rice, corn, soya bean, millets etc.
  • Fruits, vegetables can be consumed without worry.
  • Read labels of packaged foods and look out for words that say ‘May contain traces of wheat’, ‘Whole wheat’ etc. Look for allergen information before purchase or consumption.