Food Allergy versus Food Intolerance

Often people can get quite confused in understanding the difference between an allergy and intolerance so I have broken it down to make it a little easier to grasp.

Food allergy – is an allergic reaction to a particular food that is often caused by the protein in that food. Essentially our immune system identifies the protein as harmful and will do what it can to fight it! An antibody known as IgE is created to neutralise the threat, however if the same food is eaten again the antibodies that were created previously may trigger other chemicals to be released such as histamine. Histamine is often released in normal circumstances to support our immune systems but for some reason when released in conjunction with IgE antibodies it sets off an allergic reaction in people who are hypersensitive to particular food proteins. This is why you can eat a particular food one day but then the next time you consume it you have an allergic reaction.

Food allergy symptoms include; itching, hives, swelling of throat, eyes or tongue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting and even cardiac arrest. Common foods that are implicated in allergic reactions include; milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, and wheat. Genetics do seem to play an important role in allergic reactions, however it is not uncommon for a child to grow out allergies.

Food intolerance – is a reaction of the digestive system as opposed to the immune system and no antibodies are involved. In these cases a person may just be having trouble digesting food due to a lack of enzymes (i.e. lactose intolerance) or due to the chemicals in the food which impairs digestion. An intolerance to a food can be immediate in that the first time you eat it you feel unwell or it could be determined by the quantity of the food consumed, whereas with allergic reactions the tiniest of amounts can result in a reaction. Lactose intolerance is a good example as often people can consume small amounts of dairy without experiencing any discomfort.

Food intolerance symptoms include; stomach pain, bloating, gas, cramps, headaches, skin rash, tiredness and the general feeling of malaise. Intolerances can be caused by many different foods, some of the main ones include; dairy, wheat, gluten, alcohol and yeast.

There are a range of different tests available if you feel you suffer any of the above mentioned symptoms.

The food and allergy test that I provide tests for 96 different foods with the option of testing 16 common inhalants. For more information call 0439 764 426 or visit

Food allergy intolerance pic

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