Garlic Intolerance: Signs and Symptoms | Allergy Test

Garlic is a prevalent ingredient used in food all around the world. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Even though garlic is common in foods, most people with garlic intolerance tend to stay with the problem for long without knowing exactly what’s affecting them because there are other major food allergen culprits like milk and gluten that you could easily blame. What even makes it harder to realize it’s garlic is the symptoms. Most times, garlic intolerance symptoms take a while to show up. This means a few hours or even over a day.

 

Can you have a garlic intolerance?

Most people around the world suffer from garlic intolerance. Garlic is a common food ingredient even in Britain, where you’ll find that the average uses more than 200 cloves a year. Gastrointestinal symptoms are the first signs you’ll get if you have garlic intolerance. Most times, having garlic intolerance also means you’re intolerant to other alliums.

Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and spring onions are all from the same family known as allium. Doing an Intolerance Test will help you determine whether it’s garlic alone you’re intolerant to or if you should also avoid other alliums. That’s why taking an intolerance test is vital if you think you’re suffering from any food intolerances.

Garlic and other alliums contain fructans. If you have garlic intolerance, your stomach can’t handle this compound, which results in it fermenting in your gut and causing a lot of gastrointestinal symptoms to avoid reflux. You’ll find it more common to have a garlic intolerance than a true garlic allergy, which is quite a relief because food allergies are severe.

 

Raw garlic intolerance

When you have garlic intolerance, it doesn’t matter whether this spice is cooked or raw. You will still experience intolerance symptoms. If cooking down garlic could keep the symptoms away, many people would have been happy, considering most people only used garlic in its cooked form.

 

Garlic intolerance symptoms

The symptoms of garlic intolerance vary from one person to the other. You can expect to witness garlic intolerance symptoms within 60 minutes to 48 hours of consumption. Common symptoms of intolerance to garlic include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramping & abdominal pain
  • Belching
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Even though these symptoms are very troublesome, they go away once the garlic is out of your system or digestive tract.

 

Garlic allergy vs. garlic intolerance

A garlic allergy is quite different from a garlic intolerance. Even though people use the terms allergy and intolerance interchangeably when it comes to foods that cause reactions, these terms differ immensely. A true garlic allergy is uncommon, and if it is present in one’s body, it could lead to severe symptoms like anaphylaxis which is life-threatening {1}. A garlic allergy is an immune response to proteins present in garlic. This means that your immune system will mistake garlic for an invading bacteria or virus and release antibodies to fight it. Garlic allergy symptoms take mere minutes to a few hours for symptoms to show up. You can read more on garlic allergy explained to understand fully.

But when it comes to garlic intolerance, it is different and less life-threatening. A garlic intolerance occurs when your digestive tract lacks certain enzymes to break down some foods. So, in the case of garlic intolerance, it could be because of the high levels of sulfur in this tuber or high levels of fructans. Scientists haven’t found a definitive cause of garlic intolerance, unlike other significant intolerances such as lactose. So, the only way to go about intolerance is to avoid the culprit, which in this case, is garlic. You’ll also find that garlic intolerance symptoms take a while to show compared to garlic allergy, which takes mere minutes of consumption for you to recognize the signs. You can learn more about the difference between intolerance and allergy.

 

Garlic and onion intolerance

Most people suffer from both onion and garlic intolerance. That’s because these two tubers are alliums and contain the same proteins and allergens. Garlic and onions are also high in FODMAPS because they have fructans which cause maldigestion. Every human being lacks the enzyme needed to digest fructans; therefore, those who suffer from symptoms like maldigestion are often extra sensitive to this compound.

When you’re intolerant to garlic and onion, it could be hard to say that it’s due to fructans, or you’re just intolerant to alliums. Being intolerant to alliums means you could also be sensitive to other vegetables; the same applies to fructan intolerance. Either way, you’ll experience the same food intolerance symptoms in both cases; hence, avoiding these ingredients is better.

 

Garlic intolerance test

Our Allergy & Intolerance Test Plus Kit.

If you have significant symptoms upon consuming garlic, whether in sauces, soups, or other foods, you may need to take things into your hands. You can do so by taking a garlic Intolerance Test. This test will help you determine all possible foods that you could be sensitive to. However, if you’re unsure that your symptoms could be intolerance, you can opt for a combined Allergy and Intolerance Test. This test will help you look into all the food allergies and intolerances you could suffer from cutting off those foods from your diet.

 

How to treat garlic intolerance

There is no quick fix when it comes to dealing with garlic intolerance. If there were an enzyme pill one could take before eating foods with garlic, then that would be progress, but there isn’t such a thing. Once you’ve found that you have a garlic intolerance by taking a garlic Intolerance Test, you can then decide to work with your doctor towards increasing your tolerance to this tuber. But before you work towards that, you will need to work on an elimination diet. Once you no longer experience symptoms since you’re no longer eating garlic, you can then (with the help of your doctor) reintroduce this spice into your life in small quantities. This process will help you build tolerance and realize the amount of garlic your body can take without showing any symptoms. If you consume garlic by accident, over-the-counter antacids may help relieve your symptoms. But the actual treatment for garlic intolerance is altogether avoiding the tuber.

 

Author

This blog is written by Kate Young, our Laboratory Manager with over 20 years of experience as a Clinical Bio Scientist and Embryologist. Explore our team page to learn more about her and the rest of the team.

 

References

  1. Ma, S., & Yin, J. (2012). Anaphylaxis induced by ingestion of raw garlic. Foodborne pathogens and disease, 9(8), 773–775. https://doi.org/10.1089/fpd.2012.1133