Food intolerance: this is how you can protect yourself

What people can do if they have a food intolerance

According to health experts, around 20 percent of men and 30 percent of women in Germany suffer from food intolerances. Experts explain what people affected by food intolerance can do and how to protect themselves.

Women are affected more often

According to an older announcement by the statutory health insurance company Pronova BKK, 20 percent of men and 30 percent of women in Germany say they suffer from food intolerance. Because the symptoms resemble those of an irritable bowel, food intolerances are often recognized late. Experts explain how to recognize such incompatibilities and what can be done about them.

The most common signs are indigestion

The most common signs of food intolerance are indigestion such as diarrhea, feeling of fullness, flatulence, heartburn or abdominal cramps, explains the DAK Gesundheit on their website.

But rashes, dizziness, headaches or general fatigue can also indicate intolerance.

Symptoms appear shortly after eating the appropriate food, but sometimes hours later.

Depending on whether larger or smaller amounts of the food have been consumed, the symptoms are stronger or weaker.

The number of people affected has continued to increase

But how does food intolerance actually occur?

As the DAK explains, sufferers either lack certain enzymes in the body to utilize the components from the food or their small intestine is damaged, so that the small intestine walls consequently allow too many pollutants to enter the bloodstream.

Experts see the reasons for this as our current diet with heavily processed foods, stress and harmful environmental influences.

Therefore, the number of people with an intolerance has increased steadily in recent years.

Expert tips

The health insurance company DAK also explains what those affected can do if they have a food intolerance.

If you have the impression that you cannot tolerate certain foods, you should keep a food diary as a first step. Every day it is noted what is eaten and when the symptoms appear. This is how the first clues can be found.

However, a doctor should be consulted for a reliable diagnosis.

Lactose intolerance, the so-called lactose intolerance, and fructose intolerance, the so-called fructose intolerance, can be reliably demonstrated by a simple breath test.

Food intolerances cannot be cured, but prescription-free preparations are available for lactose intolerance, the most common intolerance.

If those affected take them, they can then eat dairy products without experiencing severe symptoms.

In general, however, the corresponding foods should be avoided as far as possible or only consumed in such quantities as they are tolerated.

Important: There is a difference between food intolerance and food allergy.

In the event of an allergy, the immune system repels certain substances, for example a protein compound contained in nuts.

It forms antibodies against it, which - if they encounter allergens - react excessively and can cause severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, fainting or a life-threatening allergic shock.

In the event of an allergy, those affected must always avoid the food in question completely, since even the smallest quantities can be dangerous.

Reduce risk

In order to reduce the risk of developing a food allergy, the following things should be considered:

Heavily processed foods such as finished products, sweet pasta from the bakery or canned goods should be avoided.

Cook fresh every day - with enough vegetables, whole grains and little meat.

Pay attention to relaxation - good options for reducing stress include yoga or autogenic training.

Regular exercise activates the metabolism and gets the immune system going.

Do not “give up suspicion”

The DAK Gesundheit also points out that one should not do without “suspicion”, but only after a medical diagnosis. After all, lactose or fructose are natural and original components of food.

If you suffer from indigestion and the doctor does not find any intolerance, further examinations, possibly with a specialist, can be carried out.

If a person is diagnosed with food intolerance, they should be accompanied by a doctor or a nutritionist when changing their diet. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Health insurance DAK Gesundheit: Food intolerances: How to interpret the signs correctly, (accessed: 22.06.2019), DAK Gesundheit
  • Pronova BKK health insurance: Food intolerance: women are affected more often than men, (access: 22.06.2019), Pronova BKK

Video: How To Identify and Treat Food Intolerances (January 2022).