Food Intolerance or Food Allergy?

There are so many people with a food allergy or a food intolerance now that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I’d like to take a moment to define each and show the similarities and the differences. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference but hopefully this will help.

Food Intolerance

A food intolerance is when the digestive system has a hard time breaking down a specific food and has an adverse effect. Take for instance “lactose-intolerance”. It’s one of the most widely known and it effects many. Lactose intolerance means that a person’s digestive system has a hard time breaking down and digesting the sugar lactose, which is found in cow’s milk. When your body has an intolerance it can show itself in many different digestive symptoms but sometimes can show as other symptoms like headaches.

Common Symptoms of Food Intolerance:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Headaches
  • Etc.
Food Allergy

A food allergy involves an abnormal response by the immune system. Which is why it can be hard to detect if it is an allergy or an intolerance. It doesn’t always have to result in an anaphylaxis shock which can be life threatening.

Symptoms of Food Allergy:

  • Skin rash
  • Sneezing
  • Drainage
  • Inflammation (skin, sinuses, lungs, etc.)
  • Asthma Attack
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis

Can also be accompanied by:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Emotional Symptoms (irritability, weepy, angry, etc. shortly after having food)
  • Hyperactivity

There are a lot of similarities between a food intolerance and a food allergy, but an allergy specifically is a reaction of the immune system. To know for sure, it would be best to set up an appointment for an allergy test.

The Top 8

Here are the top 8 food allergens that are now clearly marked on the ingredient list of foods. The other thing to consider, is if you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, let’s say shrimp, then you would want to either test for other shellfish or stay away from other shellfish like crab and lobster. It’s a cross-reaction and most likely you can have an allergic reaction to these as well. Some other allergens are hard to see in an ingredient list because they might not be as common – like strawberries for example. Although the top 8 are now clearly marked on labels, it’s best to know how to read labels and ingredient lists to be proactive.

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

I’ve been posting about the different names allergens can be listed under, like corn, that might not necessarily be listed as that specific ingredient. Stay tuned for more, and visit the “Know Your Labels” page.

 

 


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