The Most Common Foods that Cause Intolerances – Causes & Symptoms

The Most Common Foods that Cause Intolerances – Causes & Symptoms

Digestive distress…UGH! Put simply, this is a terrible annoyance that should be avoided at all costs. But did you know that things like bloating, stomach pain, cramping, and diarrhea can all be food intolerance symptoms? Food intolerance is different from an allergy because the symptoms don't kick in right away. It's frustrating not to know which foods might be causing you this discomfort or if they’re even a result of food intolerances at all.

If you have been dealing with these symptoms regularly, don't wait for them to strike again. Be proactive – there’s no need to suffer in silence! It's time to act and learn more about what foods might be giving you tummy trouble. Let’s explore some common culprits together, shall we?

Dairy Products

Got milk? We all know the slogan, but it may surprise you to learn that approximately 50 million Americans have some level of dairy intolerance. The chemical known as lactose is the real culprit in dairy products, and many people's stomachs do not react well to it. The reason is that certain enzymes needed to break down that lactose are not present in those people. If your body doesn't have these enzymes, it can't properly digest the lactose in dairy products, which can lead to digestive distress as your body struggles through the day. Those symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Abdominal Pain

Keep in mind that symptoms may vary between individuals and especially between children and adults. Adults are much more likely to be lactose-intolerant. The severity of your symptoms often depends on how much dairy you have eaten. Lactose can be found in products like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt.


Most of us know of gluten but are unsure of where it really comes from. Gluten is found in most bread types, specifically in products that contain wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that is a much more severe type of gluten intolerance, although it is exceedingly rare. Consuming gluten with that disease can cause severe damage your intestines. However, some people may be intolerant of gluten without the disease and will have more mild symptoms like:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Migraines
  • Canker sores
  • Skin rash

People who do not suffer from Celiac's Disease are suffering from a negative reaction to gluten proteins. They may also notice symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or abdominal pain after consuming gluten products.


What now? While you may have never heard of these, salicylates are ingredient usually found in herbs, spices, and other plant matter. You might also find them in toothpaste or gum. Usually, salicylates are good for you, but your body is unique. What is good for some people may not always be good for you. You should never compare your health to someone else’s, which is why you need to find out what foods or nutrients your body is negatively reacting to. Symptoms of salicylate intolerance can include:

  • Skin rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Difficulty breathing

Although it is basically impossible to avoid salicylates completely, eliminating major sources from your diet or otherwise limiting your consumption of them may help you relieve the symptoms.


Coffee? Yes, please! For many people, caffeine is a necessity. Like your morning coffee, afternoon tea, occasional soda, or much-needed energy drinks (and don’t forget chocolate!!!), it can help you feel more awake and alert in small amounts. Caffeine may help you stay awake and get through a difficult test or a large workload. However, some people can't handle much or any caffeine. There may be a familial component to caffeine intolerance, or it may simply be the subject of caffeine reacting with other medications.

Caffeine sensitivity can give way to symptoms like:

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Jittery movements
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

Soy Products

For people pursuing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, soy may be a major part of their diet. Unfortunately, many people are either allergic or intolerant to soy. You can find soy in tofu and replacement dairy products. The severity of your symptoms depends on your body, but they may include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Swollen lips or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea


This is not a highly popular one. Our bodies typically use histamines to ward off disease and infection by regulating the digestive and nervous systems. After your histamines have done their job, your body naturally filters them out most of the time. Sometimes, however, people cannot excrete those histamines, and they can build up in the body, which can cause symptoms like:

  • Flushed skin
  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure

You may find that histamines are more likely to be activated from foods like kimchi, cured meats, avocados, aged cheese, and smoked fish. Fermented foods are suspect when it comes to histamines, so alcohol may fall into that category as well.


FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate and that gives your intestines a hard time. The large intestine, where most larger foods are digested, runs into issues with FODMAPs for people who are intolerant, and they can experience painful abdominal cramping, gas, and bloating. Symptoms may also include constipation, depending on how well the FODMAPs move through the intestine. If you are looking to avoid FODMAPs, you should stay away from the following foods:

  • Soft cheese
  • Bread
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Honey

Sometimes FODMAP intolerance comes part and parcel with IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome.

Avoiding Common Foods That Cause Intolerances

We know that was a lot to digest (no pun intended). But we have good news! Now that you know some of the typical foods responsible for digestive problems, you may be wondering if the discomfort you’ve been experiencing is really a food intolerance. And we have the solution! At UCARI, we offer a convenient intolerance test that allows you to pinpoint exactly what foods are causing you distress, so you can modify your diet and avoid them entirely or minimize your consumption of them.

Don't let your body go unheard! If you’re struggling through unusual and uncomfortable symptoms, it’s because your body is desperately trying to tell you that something is wrong. But not to worry! UCARI is here to support you on your wellness journey, so you can discover the happiest, healthiest version of YOU! 

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