Quick Reference: What Am I Reacting To?

Wheat, Barley, Rye, Spelt, Kamut

  • Propionates (E282): artificial additive
  • FODMAPs: indigestible sugars and starches
  • Gluten: opioid-like peptides
  • Gluten: insulin-like lectins
  • Genuine allergic reaction

You may not be sensitive to gluten. Most commercial bread contains propionates which can cause chronic pain and behavioural reactions. Find a propionate-free brand (organic is usually safest) or make your own bread and test. Test flour products separately. Have the grains been soaked or fermented? If so, assume an amine/glutamate reaction. Do you find gluten grains addictive? If so, assume an opioid-like peptide reaction. Do grains give you digestive problems? If so, assume a problem digesting FODMAPs.


  • Gluten-like proteins (avenin): weak opioid-like peptides
  • Gluten-like proteins (avenin): insulin-like lectins
  • Avenanthramides (cholesterol-lowering polyphenols)

Have the grains been soaked or fermented? If so, assume an amine/glutamate reaction. Oats are low in FODMAPs and don’t generally cause digestive upset.Do you find oats addictive? Oats contain a nervine, i the form of avenanthramides, which tend to act as a calmative, however, this can result in irritability withdrawal reactions and cravings.

Rice, Corn, Millet, Quinoa, Buckwheat

  • Salicylates and/or SLAs (black and red rice are very high in tannins which act as a caffeine-like stimulant, jasmine and basmati rice are aromatic, buckwheat contains buckwheat polyphenol (BWP), corn contains salicylates, and trace amounts of salicylates are found in millet and quinoa)
  • Oxalates (buckwheat)

Have the grains been soaked or fermented? If so, assume an amine/glutamate reaction.

Gluten-Free Flours

  • Salicylates and/or SLAs (rice and corn flour)
  • Added sulphites (all flours)
  • FODMAPs (gum-based additives, particularly xanthan gum)
  • Glutamate (hydrolysed protein additives)
  • Solanine (potato flour)

Most gluten-free flours contain sulphites. This is the most likely cause of food intolerance reactions. Digestive problems may well be caused by FODMAPs in gum-based additives. Xanthan gum is notorious for causing digestive upset. Have the grains been soaked or fermented? If so, assume an amine/glutamate reaction. Some highly processed gluten-free flours contain hydrolysed proteins (glutamate). Potato flours may contain solanine, which tends to cause minor digestive complaints, including hiccups!


  • Salicylates and SLAs (low amounts found in skin, green potatoes, new potatoes)
  • Insulin-like lectins
  • Solanine (alkaloid)
  • Naturally occurring nitrates

Have the potatoes been fried in oil or dusted with flavour enhancers? If so, assume a reaction to additives. Did you eat potato skins, green or budding potatoes, or experience tachycardia, digestive problems or hiccups? If so, assume a reaction to solanine or salicylates. Potatoes also contain natural nitrates.

Milk and Yoghurt

  • Casein: opioid-like peptides (bioavailability is increased by lactobacillus fermentation making yoghurt reactions worse than milk)
  • Genuine allergic reaction
  • Multiple immunological compounds (hormones, anti-microbial factors, immune development factors, tolerance/priming factors)
  • Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) (particularly in rBGH-treated cows, IGF-1 is resistant to pasteurisation and bioavailability may be increased by pasteurisation, though IGF-1 is undetectable after heating to 121°C for 5 minutes, at which point the proteins become denatured)
  • FODMAPs: lactose (lower amounts in yoghurt, absent from sour tasting yoghurt)
  • Melatonin (a relatively harmless amine that aides sleep, particularly found in milk from cows milked before dawn)
  • Amines, particularly tyramine (trace amounts, usually yoghurt only)
  • ? Lectins (trace amounts, from the cow’s diet, lectin super-responders only)
  • ? Salicylates and salicylate-like polyphenols (trace amounts, from the cow’s diet, salicylate super-responders only)
  • ? Arachidonic acid (super-responders only)
  • ? Disinfectant used to wash out milk tanks (trace amounts, potassium iodide, chlorine and others, super-responders only)
  • ? Calcium (excitatory, causes glutamate release, super-responders only)

Do you find milk addictive? If so, assume an opioid-like peptide reaction. Does milk make you sneeze? If so, assume an intolerance to the immunological compounds and/or opioids, or a genuine allergic reaction – particularly if milk makes your throat itch. Does milk make you gain weight? If so, assume an opioid-like peptide reaction and/or sensitivity to IGF. Does milk provoke seizures? If so, you may need to test your reaction to calcium.
For suspected opioid-like peptide responders, individuals should test A1 milk (regular cow’s milk) versus officially branded A2 milk (Guernsey cow, buffalo, goat’s and sheep’s milk). People who are intolerant of opioids usually tolerate goat’s and sheep’s milk unless they are super-responders. See the gluten and casein responders page.

Cream and Butter

  • Casein: opioid-like peptides (trace amounts – super-responders only)
  • Insulin-like growth factor I (trace amounts – super-responders only)
  • FODMAPs: lactose (trace amounts)
  • ? Carotinoids including beta carotene (super-responders only, particularly in Jersey and Guernsey cows)
  • ? Arachidonic acid (super-responders only)


  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high)
  • Genuine allergic reaction to traces of pollen
  • ? BH4 (super-responders only)


  • Rubiscolin: opioid-like peptides
  • Salicylates and SLAs (very high)
  • Oxalates (extremely high)
  • Nitrates (high)

Do you find spinach addictive? If so, assume an opioid-like peptide reaction. People with arthritis and aches and pains will need to test each food chemical separately as salicylates, oxalates and opioids can all cause arthritic pain.


  • Salicylates and SLAs
  • Oxalates (extremely high)


  • Nitrates (extremely high)
  • Genuine allergic reaction

Spicy Foods e.g. Curry

  • Food colourings and additives (artificial SLAs)
  • MSG (glutamate)
  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high)
  • Capsaicin (alkaloid) (pain triggering component of hot peppers, triggers endogenous opioid release)

Citrus Fruits: Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Lime, etc

  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high)
  • SLAs with specific effects (trigger histamine release)
  • Amines (high)

Tropical Fruits: Mangoes, Bananas, Pineapples, Papaya/Pawpaw, Passionfruit/Granadilla, Pomegranate, Avocado, Carambola/Star Fruit, etc

  • Salicylates and SLAs (high, except for bananas)
  • Amines (very high)
  • Multiple SLAs with specific effects (e.g. bromelain triggers histamine release)
  • Phytoestrogens (pomegranate)


  • Salicylates and SLAs (vary from very low to very high depending on variety)
  • FODMAPs: pectin (found particularly in raw apples and apple peel, known to cause stomach ache, bloating and digestive upset in some people)

Figs, Dates, Prunes

  • Salicylates and SLAs
  • Added Sulphites
  • FODMAPs: sorbitol (laxative)
  • Caffeic acid, Chlorogenic and Neochlorogenic acids (SLAs) (laxative)
  • ? Digestive irritants (SLAs)

Grapes and Raisins

  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high)
  • Multiple SLAs with specific effects (flavonoids, polyphenols, e.g. quercetin, resveratrol)
  • Added Sulphites

Nightshade Family: Tomato, Tamarillo, Tomatillo, Eggplant/Aubergine, Uchuva, Peppers, Tobacco, Potato

  • Steroidal and Other Alkaloids (solanine, nicotine, chaconine)
  • Salicylates and SLAs
  • Amines, including unusual amines like GABA

Coconut, Coconut Oil

  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high in SLAs)
  • Multiple SLAs with specific effects (flavonoids, polyphenols)


  • Caffeine
  • Salicylates and SLAs
  • Caffeic acid, Chlorogenic and Neochlorogenic acids (SLAs) (laxative)

Do you self-medicate with coffee or have strong reactions to it? This may indicate a caffeine intolerance.


  • Caffeine
  • Salicylates and SLAs (extremely high)
  • Gallates (SLAs) (green tea polyphenols)
  • Theanine (glutamate antagonist)

Do you self-medicate with tea or have strong reactions to it? This may indicate a caffeine intolerance or a sensitivity to glutamates (theanine in tea opposes glutamate and has a calming effect).

Chocolate and Cocoa

  • Theobromine (caffeine related compound)
  • Caffeine
  • Amines (very high)
  • Multiple SLAs with specific effects (flavonoids, polyphenols)
  • ? Unknown mechanism, possibly psychological, triggers endorphin release

Cabbage Family: Cabbages, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli

  • Goiterogens (thyroid inhibiting effects)
  • Natural sulphur
  • Salicylates and SLAs (low in salicylates, moderate in SLAs)
  • Oxalates (variable)

Do cabbage family vegetables give you hangover symptoms? If so, test for sulphur reactions as you may be a sulphur super-responder. Do cabbage family vegetables make you feel cold and headachy? If so, have your thyroid function checked. Salicylate super-responders react to cabbage family vegetables.

Garlic and Onions

  • Natural sulphur
  • Salicylates and SLAs (low)

Though garlic is allowed on the elimination diet, a significant subset of failsafers have strong reactions to natural sulphur and must avoid it. Onion is very high in FODMAPs and can cause digestive upset in FODMAP intolerant people.


SLAs: stands for salicylate-like aromatics, including natural benzoates, gallates, polyphenols and flavonoids.