Can you be intolerant to vegetables?

Mad on avocados? Crazy for courgettes? As a society, we’re often told how important it is to get our daily dose of vegetables. After all, they may help to reduce the risk of heart problems, lower cholesterol, and give us our recommended vitamin intake. Research shows that these are just a few of the great health benefits vegetables might provide.

However, for some people, these colourful foods can wreak havoc. Prone to a sensitive gut? Certain vegetables are high-FODMAP foods, meaning that they could be harder for your body to digest and absorb – these should be avoided by those who suffer from IBS or other digestive issues. And then there’s the fact that you can in fact be intolerant to vegetables.

What is the difference between a vegetable allergy and a vegetable intolerance?

When it comes to a vegetable allergy and a vegetable sensitivity or intolerance, the difference is simple. An allergy will trigger your immune system to fight what it deems a threat, while an intolerance will cause you digestive issues. Intolerances are not fatal, but they are often uncomfortable and painful.

Symptoms of a vegetable allergy include:

  • Swelling, itchiness and tingling in the throat and mouth
  • Numbness
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Finding it hard to breathe
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness

If you have any of these symptoms, you must receive medical attention immediately.

What is a food sensitivity or food intolerance?

A food intolerance is often a delayed biological reaction which, although unpleasant, is not life-threatening. Caused by having difficulty digesting certain foods, food intolerance symptoms sometimes can often emerge hours or even days after the food has been consumed – this makes it hard sometimes to pinpoint what exactly has caused the disruption and discomfort.

How do you know if you are vegetable intolerant?

Vegetable intolerance symptoms present shortly after consuming particular vegetables. For example, you may find you have an onion intolerance, a celery intolerance, an intolerance to peppers, or intolerance to garlic that is causing your vegetable bloating.

Understanding your personal food and drink intolerances or ‘food fingerprint’ can help you identify what your body is reacting to in an adverse manner. A YorkTest Food Sensitivity Test can pinpoint precisely which foods are causing elevated levels of IgG antibodies in your blood, as it tests reactions to foods and shows the degree of reaction through a ‘traffic light’ system: red for high, amber for borderline and green for no reaction at all.

Dr Gill Hart, Scientific Director at YorkTest, says: “A lot of people now are self-diagnosing, the fad being gluten-free and dairy-free. People are doing that without any support and sometimes without replacing eliminated foods with something equally nutritious.”

What are the signs and symptoms of a vegetable intolerance?

There are hundreds of vegetables in the world, meaning not all vegetable intolerances will be the same. However, it is likely you will experience some of these signs and symptoms of a vegetable intolerance:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Eczema
  • Itchy skin
  • Rashes
  • Acne
  • Tiredness
  • Runny nose and sinusitis
  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

If you think you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to take a food sensitivity test to determine whether or not you have one, but be sure to speak to your doctor first to rule out the possibility of any underlying conditions.

How long does it take for a vegetable intolerance to show?

If you have a vegetable intolerance, you will usually be able to tell somewhere between a couple of hours and a few days after you consume the vegetable and begin to digest it.

How long it takes for a vegetable intolerance to show can differ depending on the scale of your reaction and the amount of the ingredient you have eaten. For example, if you have a chickpea intolerance, you may find that you will start to experience mild discomfort hours after eating a falafel. Nausea and bloating may follow the next day.

If you experience any severe symptoms, such as swelling or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical advice straight away –  it could be that you have a vegetable allergy which, as discussed earlier, can at times, be life-threatening.

Vegetable bloating

If you think it could be possible that your bloating is triggered by certain foods, it may be worth keeping a food diary in order to track your symptoms over a longer period of time. A food sensitivity test can also prove useful in pinpointing which foods and drinks you react to.

With a simple finger-prick blood test, the YorkTest laboratory team will identify your IgG antibody reactions to up to 208 food and drink ingredients.

Our experts will guide you through the process, and provide dietary advice that will help you make sure you don’t lose out on the nutrients, should you be advised to cut certain foods out of your diet altogether.

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