Differences Between Food Intolerance and Food Allergy

pesky allergiesWhat is the difference between food intolerance and food allergy?

‘Food Intolerance’ and ‘Food Allergy’ are often thought to be just about the same thing but the biological processes behind them, and how they affect you, are very different from eachother.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is common but the symptoms are much more severe than an intolerance.  During an actual allergic reaction, the body’s immune system believes it is being ‘invaded’ and produces IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to fight off the food or drink ingredient it mistakenly considers to be harmful.

The body’s inflammatory response to an allergy can vary from mild to severe and can affect one or more systems in the body, such as the digestive system, respiratory system or the skin.  In extreme cases, the immune system triggers a response throughout the whole body, resulting in a systemic reaction (anaphylaxis) which is potentially fatal, such as what you hear often in peanut allergies.

Peanuts have a different molecular structure than other nuts and through time, there have been many changes to farming practices involving pesticide types being used on our crops.  The possible theory is that these farming chemicals are reacting to the structures of certain foods (such as peanuts) to cause more severe and more widespread cases of allergy.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is different from allergy,  which is generally more common and usually involves a delayed biological reaction which, although often uncomfortable and unpleasant, is not life threatening.

Causes of food intolerance

People react differently to different foods.  Food intolerance takes on different forms such as:

  • Food Allergy – immediate reaction (IgE)
  • Celiac Disease – lifelong autoimmune reaction to gluten proteins which damages the gut wall and prevents nutrients being properly absorbed
  • Enzyme deficiencies – lifelong deficiencies such as lactose intolerance
  • Chemical sensitivities – such as reactions to food additives like tartrazine (E102), caffeine  and sunset yellow (E110) and Red or Blue colorings such as in candies and pill coatings.
  • Reaction to histamine in foods
  • Delayed onset food intolerance (measurement of food-specific IgG antibodies as a strategy to determine which foods to eliminate); and may not be lifelong.  There are many people who once they find have an intolerance, just by eliminating that food from the diet for 6-12 months, can slowly re-introduce it back into their diet and be OK with it from then on.
  • Recommending the best strategy is to use food diaries and elimination diets as the preferred method of treatment. It can however, be difficult to identify problem foods, especially as it is common to experience reactions to several different foods at the same time.

The problem with an elimination diet can be that, without knowing exactly which foods are causing a problem, you might be depriving yourself unnecessarily of nutrients you don’t need to avoid. Also, if you try cutting out a combination of suspected ingredients all at once it can make it more difficult to pin- point the exact trigger foods.

Some people have detectable levels of raised food-specific IgG antibody levels but do not experience any health problems.

  • I have seen many cases where a person has joint pain, or headaches, or stomach distress, or general all-over fatigue and other symptoms that they thought were from whatever, but were actually a food sensitivity.
  • Not being able to lose weight can be a symptom of food intolerance because the offensive food(s) can cause inflammation in the body that affect the natural ability process of the body to have achieve weight loss.

What Can You Do?

I recommend seeing a holistic health professional that can order blood testing to an allergy testing laboratory, that will test your blood for all  the foods, additives, herbs, etc., that you are eating, to determine  if an intolerance or allergy is the cause of your symptoms.  These testing results can do wonders to making you feel well again, and eliminate the symptoms that could be stemming from your  intolerances.  These results are clear-cut and chart out the severity level of that offensive food, so you know whether it is a mild, moderate or severe intolerance.

Contact me for further information on receiving this valuable information.  How surprised would you be to know its possible some simple food you eat all  the time is actually a stressor to your body?

About The Nutrition Advisor

Holistic Nutrition Counselor, Certified - I work with you personally to take control of your own health naturally, using the right nutrition and supplements that your body personally needs. Weight loss, digestion issues, fatigue, hormone balance, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, etc. In person or by Skype comprehensive evaluation and follow ups if needed, as well as personal shopping for your product needs if you don't have time or you don't want to waste your money on products that don't give you the quality and purity you are paying for.
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