What’s the Difference Between a Food Allergy and Food Intolerance?
Food Allergy is an IgE reaction of the body's immune system to a food or food ingredient that it recognizes as "foreign." A true food allergy can cause tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, trouble breathing,and dizziness or fainting. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea, signs and symptoms that happen with a food intolerance as well. Food allergy rates are higher for children, African-Americans, males and people with asthma.
Food Sensitivity is a non-IgE reaction (IgG, IgA, IgM) in which an individual experiences an adverse reaction to a food, food ingredient or additive. A food sensitivity usually involves the digestive system and the immune system. You can probably eat small amounts of the food without an immediate reaction. However, if you continue eating foods your body considers harmful, inflammation increases, and your immune system is compromised shown by the many symptoms in the chart above.
Food Intolerance is when you body is unable to break down, assimilate, digest or absorb a food, food ingredient or additive. (i.e. lack of digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid).
DID YOU KNOW???
- One of the leading causes of obesity is sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods
- 60-80% of the population is sensitive to one or more foods
- Eating the same foods over and over, day after day after day, is one of the most sure-fire methods to developing a food intolerance
- Food sensitivities and intolerances are a primary cause of fatigue and emotional problems
- Food sensitivities and intolerances have increased 20% in the last ten years
- Do you crave or are you addicted to any specific food(s)? Chances are high that you’re more than likely intolerant or sensitive to it
- A study reported in The Lancet found that when allergenic foods were eliminated from the diets of migraine sufferers as many as 93 percent of them found relief!
- Hidden food allergies or food sensitivities are unique to each individual and can cause inflammatory diseases, and an inability to lose weight.
Watch this Wellness Minute video for a simple technique to help you discover if you have hidden food sensitivities. Years ago, Dr. Arthur Coca popularized the "pulse test" for food allergy. He found that some (but definitely not all) allergic individuals have a significant increase in their resting pulse after eating a particular food allergen. Others have observed that eating certain trigger foods causes them to retain fluids, which manifests as a significant weight gain that doesn't disappear by the next morning (like most water-weight gain).
The Top Trigger Foods responsible for 90% of Food Reactions
- Milk and Dairy Products
- Peanuts and Tree Nuts (i.e. Almonds and Walnuts)
- Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
- Fish and Shellfish
- Wheat and Gluten
In addition, many people are intolerant to MSG, food dyes, beer, wine and cocktail mixes, sulfites and other preservatives.
The Solution Eliminate all pasteurized dairy products, wheat, gluten, artificial sweeteners, processed soy, sugar, soda, and products containing corn and HFCS. Supplements and protein powders with additives, HFCS, artificial sweeteners and fillers should also be removed from the diet.
What works about this? Here are just a few benefits: Better sleep, less belly bloating, brain fog, fatigue, aches and pains, a surge in energy, reduced stress and lower cortisol, flatter abs, weight loss, and clearer, healthier, younger looking skin.
When you eliminate the foods you’re sensitive or intolerant to specifically dairy, gluten, wheat and sugar, many individuals experience withdrawal symptoms similar to withdrawal from other addictive substances like caffeine, nicotine, drugs and alcohol.
To avoid food sensitivities and intolerances, it’s important to get into the habit of rotating all foods every day and reading the list of ingredients on all products. On a rotation diet, a food is only eaten once every 4 days. So, if you have eggs on Monday, you will not eat eggs again until Friday. Keep a daily food journal of everything you eat.
Testing If you have persistent health issues that continue to persist and don't experience relief no matter what you do, you may want to consider a thorough screening even if you get a negative result on your self-test. Consider food sensitivity testing (a non-IgE reaction test). IgG, IgA, IgM tests are different than the IgE food allergy test, the skin prick test. A comprehensive blood test can also indicate food sensitivities.
Remember this — Food is a Drug!
Contact me for a custom lifestyle plan that encourages intestinal healing and a healthy functioning digestive system.
Copyright © Paula Owens
Nowak-Wegrzyn A, et al. Adverse reactions to foods. Medical Clinics of North America. 2006;90:97.