Food Intolerances Versus Food Allergies

Food Intolerances Versus Food Allergies

Food allergies are due to an immediate immune reaction against a food that the body perceives as a foreign invading agent. The immune system responds with the release of chemicals such as histamine. Symptoms may include hives, itching, swelling, wheezing or difficulty breathing and can be life-threatening. Allergy testing via blood test or skin testing can identify the offending food allergen.

Food intolerances (also called food sensitivities), is an adverse or unpleasant reaction to food that does not involve the immune system. The causes of food intolerances are varied. It may be that a food is poorly
digested. For example, a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, required to digest milk sugar, causes intolerance to dairy milk. The adverse reaction may include, bloating, flatulence, cramping and nausea. Other common examples of food intolerances are wheat, peanuts, soya bean, tomatoes, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sulphites.

Continual consumption of offending foods may contribute to systemic symptoms such as skin conditions, muscle pain, fatigue, mood swings and compromised immunity. Measures to improve the health of the
digestive tract and increase digestive enzymes can help to minimise the effects of food intolerances.

Written by Natalie Elliott
Published 28/05/2011

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