The Causes of Sensitivity to Certain Foods

Non-allergic food reactions have several different underlying causes. This page gives you a quick overview of the different causes. There is still a lot of research being done, but this page reflects the current understanding of what causes food hypersensitivity.

Missing enzymes

The body not being able to breakdown certain elements of a food can cause the symptoms. This is normally because the body is missing a digestive enzyme.

Autoimmune disorders

Certain autoimmune diseases cause what are classified as intolerances. Celiac disease is the most common form.

The disease means that gluten cannot be digested properly by the body. Over time, the digestive system is damaged.

Chemical causes

Sometimes a chemical reaction within the body causes symptoms. Often foods that contain certain chemicals trigger this reaction. Most of the intolerances that are caused by food additives fall into this category.

Naturally occurring histamine in foods

Histamine is a chemical that the body automatically releases as part of an allergic reaction. Everyone has background histamine levels and most people’s bodies can cope with eating histamine rich foods, but for some people doing so tips their body over into an allergic like reaction. It causes itching, hives etc.

Foods like mushrooms, vinegar, smoked fish, pickled foods and many others all contain high levels of histamine.

Toxins in food

It is possible to mistake food poisoning for intolerance of a certain food. This is especially the case with foods that carry a high-level of stomach bugs.

Studies have shown that in some areas over 50% of the oysters sold and eaten raw have some sort of stomach bug. This means the chances of stomach issues are high when you eat them, so it is easy to end up believing that your body cannot cope with oysters when in fact your symptoms are caused by a stomach virus. The video at the end of this page explains more about the way naturally occurring toxins in food can cause symptoms that are similar to those that occur with food allergies and intolerance.

How food is cooked and kept

The way you cook certain foods also has an impact on what toxins are released and, therefore, whether you can eat them. Food & DrinkPiyazUndercooked beans contain toxins that some people’s body’s cannot tolerate, but they are fine if they eat well-cooked beans.

Rice is another culprit. Freshly cooked rice has no toxins. Let it cool and you can get a build up of toxins, which can cause sickness and diarrhoea.


There is some indication that parasites can play a role in how sensitive someone is to certain foods. This cause is recognised by the mainstream medical community, but some research indicates that parasites can play a role in food sensitivity.

Tick bites

Another cause of food intolerance or allergies is tick bites. Again, something that for decades has been dismissed as impossible by the medical community has finally been proven. Some people who are bitten by ticks find that they cannot eat red meat as a result.

As I said above research into the causes of food intolerance are ongoing. If you are aware of other causes, please let me know, so I can update this page.In the meantime the video below is interesting. It will tell you more about naturally occurring toxins in food and how they can cause an adverse reaction to those foods. This is sometimes called food toxin sensitivity.

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