Food Intolerance Part 1


Many new patients seek Dr. Rosen’s help because of ailments caused by an undiagnosed food intolerance. In part 1 of a 2 part series, I will explain what a food intolerance is and what foods are most likely to cause one. Part 2 will explain how to read food labels and include tips for successful diet changes.

For me, gluten, dairy and corn were the ingredients making me sick. I used a daily asthma medication and often needed steroid treatments for constant, painful rashes. I napped every afternoon and rarely had the energy I needed to care for two small children. After giving up those three foods, my health improved significantly. I was able to ditch the medications and had more energy than ever before. Once I realized how much better I felt, sticking with this new lifestyle was easy.

What is Food Intolerance?

While a food allergy reaction is immediate and obvious, food intolerance can be harder to identify. This is because reactions are slower to occur and are usually triggered by foods that are eaten routinely. An intolerance may persist for years before a patient seeks treatment.

Common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea/Constipation
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Pains
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Fatigue/Brain Fog
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Asthma

Considering that on average, most adults eat the same ten foods every day, an undiagnosed food intolerance can slowly cause, and build upon, an inflammatory reaction in the body. Dr. Rosen can help you determine if your favorite foods are causing you harm.

What Foods Cause Intolerance?

By now, most people know someone who has sworn off gluten. But do you know the other ingredients most likely to cause intolerance? Remember that food allergies are more serious, and the foods that cause those reactions are different than those listed below. While you can develop a sensitivity to any ingredient, typically, there are four foods that are responsible for the majority of food intolerances. 

Gluten- As I mentioned before, most likely you know someone who avoids this ingredient. Both a common allergen and intolerance, gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and spelt. Used in crackers, bread, baked goods and pasta, gluten can be hard to avoid. In addition to obvious sources, it may also be found in salad dressing, seasoning mixes, sauces, processed meats and candy.

Dairy- Considered any product made from the milk of an animal, this common ingredient causes trouble for many. Cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and milk are all dairy products. It may also be an ingredient in chocolate, broths, artificial sweeteners, processed meats and sauces. And no, eggs are not considered dairy.

Corn- While not a common trigger for food allergies, corn is a big source of food intolerance. Obviously, tortilla chips and popcorn contain corn, but with corn syrup and corn starch being so inexpensive, this ingredient is often added to bulk up processed foods. In addition, corn starch is used as a thickener in sauces, gravies, dressings and soup mixes.

Soy- Another ingredient used in many processed foods, soy is harder to avoid than you may think. Tofu, miso and soy sauce are straightforward sources, but be aware of vegetable oil, nut butters, canned tuna, energy bars and vegetarian meat substitutes. Other names for soy include glycine max, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), mono-diglyceride and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

What now?

Once you become aware of a food intolerance, the next challenge is to learn how to avoid it. Changing the way you eat can be overwhelming. I get it- food is an important part of our culture, traditions and social lives. But the only cure for a food intolerance is to completely avoid any ingredients that negatively affect you. The good news is that feeling better is great motivation for success!

Check back for part 2, where I will explain the importance of reading food labels and share my tips on how to be successful with your plan.

Call with any questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rosen at (541) 388-3804.


Karla Diaz Cano