Adverse reactions to food components are common nowadays and can be divided into food intolerances and food sensitivities.

  • Food intolerances do not involve the immune system, are never life-threatening and cause symptoms that happen gradually after eating a notable amount of the food (often a few hours after consumption).
  • Food sensitivities involve the inappropriate activation of the immune system upon exposure to a particular food, can be life-threatening and symptoms happen quickly after eating just a small amount of the food.


Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity are examples of food sensitivities involving the activation of your immune system, while lactose maldigestion is an example of food intolerance.

Food sensitivities are on the rise. And although greater awareness and better diagnosis tools provide some explanation for the increase, Dr. Elena Verdú from McMaster University (Canada) explains that changes in our environment, the way people eat and lifestyle can all affect the gut microbiome, which can, in turn, lead to the development of food sensitivities.

In this video interview with Dr. Verdú, recorded as part of the GMFH 10th anniversary celebration, she provides some tips for identifying whether symptoms are due to the former or the latter. She also mentions why a good diagnosis by a general practitioner is the first step, before embarking on a restrictive fad diet for managing suspected food sensitivity.

Don’t forget to join the Twitter conversation (Twitter @GMFHxTwitter @GutmicrobiotaWW) using #GMFH10years and stay tuned for the next video interview with members of the GMFH Board of Experts!