Tomato Intolerance Guide | Lifelab Testing

Tomato Intolerance Guide

Tomatoes are the most consumed fruits in the world. We use them in making stews, salads, and sauces. It isn’t easy to come across a day’s meal that doesn’t have some form of tomato. They add sweetness, flavour, and acidity to food. Tomatoes are even plenty in processed foods. You can consume tomatoes when processed or in their raw form; either way, you get the nutrients from these plump red fruits. In Britain, 500,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes are consumed per year. Even though tomatoes are widely consumed, some people experience certain problems upon consuming them because they have tomato intolerance.

What is tomato intolerance?

Tomato intolerance is an IgG reaction in your body after consuming this fruit. Symptoms of tomato intolerance typically appear between hours or up to days after consuming the fruit, which can at times make it difficult to pin down the exact food causing the symptoms. If you have tomato intolerance, it means that once you consume it, the body isn’t able to break it down properly and digest it fully, resulting in tomato intolerance symptoms. That’s why most of the tomato intolerance symptoms occur in the stomach causing gastrointestinal symptoms.

The main cause for tomato intolerance could be a lack of certain enzymes in your body to break down the proteins present in tomatoes. Even though tomato intolerance symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, they aren’t as severe as tomato allergies. Sometimes it can prove difficult to know that tomatoes are the cause of your intolerance symptoms because they are found in foods like pizza (in the sauce). It is possible to have tomato sauce intolerance and even raw tomato intolerance. When you have tomatoes in the sauce, it can be hard to know which food is causing symptoms because the first culprits that will come to mind are wheat or cheese. These two are common allergens, and most people will assume they are the cause of the intolerance symptoms.

Because of how long tomato intolerance symptoms take to show up, the easiest way to determine what’s causing your intolerance is by using an Intolerance Test. This will not only test for your intolerance towards tomatoes but also check for other common intolerances like dairy, wheat, eggs, and others.

When it comes to tomato intolerance, there are different styles of sensitivities that could be in play. We have IgG reactions which are the most common in food intolerances, but the symptoms can also be due to alkaloids sensitivity or reactions to acid content.

Difference between tomato intolerance and allergy

Signs of tomato intolerance include gastrointestinal issues, while allergies are an immune reaction to proteins in tomatoes. It is common for people with tomato and nut allergies to have eczema. Tomatoes and nuts are common eczema irritants. If you experience symptoms like eczema after consuming tomatoes, it is more probable that you have a tomato allergy rather than intolerance{1}.

Most of the time, symptoms of tomato intolerance pass when you have a bowel movement. But if you have an allergy, the symptoms tend to stay for up to weeks (like eczema) before they can clear up after you’ve consistently taken medication. Most of the time, signs of food intolerance happen when you consume tomatoes in large quantities. Some people can consume a certain quantity of tomatoes without getting any side effects. But when it comes to tomato allergy, any amount of tomato you consume causes the symptoms. Some people have severe tomato allergies, and their symptoms flare up just by touching them.

Tomato intolerance is less severe compared to tomato allergies. Some people suffer from severe tomato allergies. Even though severe tomato allergy is uncommon, it leads to symptoms like urticaria/angioedema, oral allergy syndrome, dermatitis, rhinitis, and abdominal pain{2}.

Alkaloid sensitivity

Tomatoes belong to the Nightshade family, which contain compounds called alkaloids and can come in the form of solanine. The amount of alkaloids in the nightshade family is quite low, but you’ll still realise that your digestive system cannot digest it. If you’re sensitive to other foods in the nightshade family, you will find yourself experiencing tomato intolerance. Other nightshade family fruits and vegetables to look out for include:

  • White potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Paprika
  • Goji berries
  • Bell peppers

Acid reflux and heartburn

Since tomatoes contain some level of acidity, you may suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. This takes place when stomach acids go back up the oesophagus and cause a lot of discomfort in the chest area. If you experience this after consuming either canned or fresh tomatoes, it is important to avoid tomatoes altogether.

IgG tomato sensitivity

IgG tomato sensitivity happens when your body produces antibodies that react to the tomatoes causing inflammation. This results in gas, bloating, and other digestive issues. The inflammation can happen anywhere between 3-72 hours after eating tomatoes. Even though IgG tomato sensitivity can be uncomfortable, it’s not as life-threatening as a tomato allergy. Some people with tomato allergies are so sensitive that they get symptoms simply by touching the fruit.

Symptoms of tomato intolerance

Tomato intolerance symptoms can range from mild to severe for different people. The most common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Nausea
  • Skin rashes or eczema
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Tomato intolerance test

complete-intolerance-front
Our Complete Intolerance Test Kit.

The best way to know whether you have tomato intolerance is by taking an Intolerance Test. This test will look for tomato intolerance and other common allergens. Once you’ve sent your sample to the labs, you will get back your results within a week with a list of your intolerances telling you foods you need to avoid. If you feel a little concerned about cutting out tomatoes, you can consult with your doctor. After you’ve cut off tomatoes from your diet for a given period, your doctor will help you reintroduce them back in small quantities in a bid to make your body tolerate the fruit.

Foods to avoid if you suffer from tomato intolerance

You’ll need to eliminate certain foods from your diet if your results show that you have tomato intolerance. These include:

  • Raw tomatoes
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Ketchup and BBQ sauce

Food substitutes for tomato intolerance

We use tomatoes in pasta, soups, and salads. But you can easily swap these for:

  • Beetroots- To add sweetness to salads and be a great base for pasta sauces.
  • Grapes- You can add grapes wherever you would add your cherry tomatoes.
  • Gooseberries- Even though an uncommon ingredient, it can be a great substitute for tomatillos in salsa verdes, which you put on your tacos.
  • Carrots- You can use carrots as substitutes, same as beetroots.

Final thoughts on tomato intolerance

Tomatoes are commonly used in daily meal preps, but they aren’t worth consuming if they cause you discomfort. The above food substitutes contain lots of nutrients to compensate for what you’ll be missing out on once you remove tomatoes from your diet. If you want to improve your tolerance of tomatoes, you can consult your doctor about that. Otherwise, your doctor will recommend you stay away from tomatoes for a while. You will both work to increase the number of tomatoes in your diet slowly until you know the number of tomatoes you can tolerate in your diet or possibly completely tolerate tomatoes. If you still haven’t taken your Intolerance Test, this will be beneficial to complete so that you know for sure if you’re intolerant to tomatoes or other foods commonly paired with tomatoes.

About the Author

Kate Young joined Healthy Stuff in 2021 as our Laboratory Manager, following 7 years in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for the Oak Clinic Group in Japan. Coordinating a team of 6, her expertise in processing protocols and validations has allowed us to gain ISO 9001 accreditation status and work towards Good Lab Practice and further ISO. After completing her BSc Combined Science: Human and Environmental Biological Studies in 1995, she describes herself as having ’detailed research skills and a very innovative mindset’. See Kates Healthy Stuff profile here.

References

  1. Patel T, et al. (2010). Food allergy in patients with eczema. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03858.x
  2. Zacharisen, M. C., Elms, N. P., & Kurup, V. P. (2002). Severe tomato allergy (Lycopersicon esculentum). Allergy and asthma proceedings, 23(2), 149–152. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12001794/

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