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Food allergies vs. food intolerance

A common misconception is that a food allergy is the same as food intolerance. Let’s break down this universal issue to get better understanding to improve our overall wellbeing.

Food Intolerance
Food intolerance is when your digestive system has difficulty breaking down the food you have eaten. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain. For example, the most common is lactose intolerance which develops when a person’s digestive system is unable to efficiently break down milk and dairy products.

Food Allergy
A food allergy however, is an immune system response and not from the digestive system. It is caused by the body’s immune system incorrectly detecting a protein or other aspects of certain foods a person has consumed, as a threat or harmful and develops antibodies to fight it.

Prevalence in society
Food allergies are common and can easily be screened through a simple test by your general practitioner. That way you know exactly what food or foods to avoid and what to do when you have an allergic reaction. Carrying a simple epipen for those with serious allergies can make a difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Food allergies vs food intolerances
In general someone that has food intolerance does not need to avoid that specific food. However, they will be aware that upon eating such foods that there will be minimal symptoms that accompany it. But if someone is allergic they must avoid that food completely.

Symptoms of food allergies vs. food intolerances
Symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are mostly the same however those with allergies are more severe. These include:

  • Cramping abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes/hives (Food allergies)
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath (Food allergies)
  • Irritability or nervousness (Food intolerances)