Food Intolerance - Food Allergy

Helpful information was discovered recently on the differences between food allergy and food intolerance. Most people use these two terms interchangeably, probably because they use the same method of prevention of the appearance of symptoms — staying away from the food that cause them. Needless to say, the two conditions are different from each other and it is rather important that one is able to distinguish between the two.

Food allergies are responses of a person’s immune system to food. People who have an allergic reaction to certain foods do so because their body incorrectly identifies an ingredient in the food, usually a protein, as harmful, so as a reaction, the body generates anti-bodies against it. Allergy symptoms are usually immediate and dramatic, and in some cases can be life-threatening. Among the symptoms mentioned by Ogren in her feature are coughing, wheezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing, tingling in the mouth and throat, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, rashes, hives, eczema and anaphylactic shock, which will require emergency intervention. Aside from these visible symptoms, gastro-intestinal symptoms such as vomiting, cramping and gas may also occur.

The occurrences of true food allergies are considered a rarity. It reportedly affects 2 to 4% of adults and 6 to 8% of children. In comparison, food intolerance is considered more common.

Food intolerance or food sensitivity, on the other hand, is the response of a person’s digestive system to food, as opposed to the immune system in the case of food allergy. People who are intolerant to certain foods either have their digestive systems irritated by these foods, or their bodies are unable to properly digest these foods due to a lack of certain enzymes. As opposed to the immediate and dramatic reaction seen in food allergies, reactions as a result of food intolerance can take hours or even days before they appear. Symptoms are typically gastro-intestinal in nature – heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and abdominal pain, including gas, cramps and bloating. Migraines, irritability, anxiousness, exhaustion and nervousness were also listed as possible symptoms. Another interesting fact shared by experts  is that some people can get a certain “high” from eating offending foods, so it can actually lead to people being “addicted” to food that they are intolerant to.

Another difference between allergies and intolerance is that symptoms due to allergies can normally be triggered even after the consumption of small amounts of the offending food, while intolerances can normally still manage to consume certain amounts of the offending food without exhibiting symptoms, although the amount can vary from person to person.

Resources like FoodFacts provide valuable ways for consumers to find out more about what ‘s really in the food they eat.

Source:  Test