Food Allergy or Food Intolerance? This Is Why You Should Know the Difference
There’s a reason they call it comfort food. Not sure who they are, but we couldn’t think of a better phrase for our favourite bites, like pizza and tacos!
When you ingest any type of food, your brain signals a reaction.
Have you heard of the neurotransmitter serotonin?
It’s the compound that helps you regulate sleep, appetite, and mood.
Harvard Health explains that 95 per cent of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. So it only makes sense that the food you digest guides your emotions.
Unfortunately, for those who suffer from food allergies or intolerances, that reaction is less than comforting. If you’ve ever eaten anything and your body (and brain) didn’t react in a pleasant way, there’s a good chance you have a food allergy or food intolerance. And yes, there’s a difference between these two.
Keep reading for a breakdown of the two, and why it matters to understand them both.
What is Food Intolerance?
Food intolerance happens when certain particles of food cannot be properly processed by your digestive system because of the absence of an enzyme.
Unlike a food allergy, the immune system is not affected in any way.
Because your body can’t absorb the compounds of the food, your gastrointestinal system will experience symptoms.
If you have a food intolerance, it’s still generally fine to eat small amounts of the food without too much trouble (unlike with an allergy).
Causes of Food Intolerance
Typically, food intolerance stems from compounds like:
- Fructose or lactose
- Sensitivity to additives (ex. sulfites used to preserve dried fruit)
- Dairy products or grains that include gluten
Common Symptoms Include:
- Stomach ache
- Irritable Bowel
What is Food Allergy?
A food allergy is a reaction that occurs in your immune system after eating a certain food. Your body recognizes the food as a pathogen (a bacteria or virus) and therefore your immune system tries to overact to fight it off.
With a food allergy, even a miniscule amount of the food can trigger symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Swollen airways
- Tingling or itching
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or diarrhoea
On a more serious note, another symptom that could occur is called anaphylaxis. This severe allergic reaction causes your immune system to release chemicals that can result in you going into shock. In this case, immediate emergency treatment is critical.
Most common food allergies:
- Tree nuts
Causes of food allergies
Research suggests that there are multiple reasons that food allergies come on, mostly from a mix of genetic and environmental influences. If a family member has a food allergy, the chances of you also having the same one are greater. The same is true if you’re exposed to certain allergens through air or skin.
Some other key differences to note:
Food allergies usually spring out immediately, every time you eat the food. It can happen even if you’ve just had a small amount of it. Food intolerances come on more gradually and might only surface when you’ve taken in a lot of the food.
Why Differentiating Food Intolerances and Food Allergies Matters
It’s important to know the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy so that you can better prepare your body before and after digesting the food.
If you have a severe food allergy, you could potentially experience life-threatening symptoms, therefore you’ll know to avoid that food completely.
How to Treat Food Allergies and Intolerances
If you believe you have a serious condition, it’s best to consult your doctor.
For a natural solution for most food intolerances, try Digesta Alpha. Digesta Alpha is a multi-enzyme preparation that contains five natural enzymes that are vegan/vegetarian-friendly and free of gluten, colouring, and additives.