The Nation's Health + recipe

Allergy or Intolerance

Many times we may stay away from certain foods that make us sick or not feeling or looking the best - but how can you tell if it's an actual food allergy or intolerance?
Look on almost any food label and you’re bound to see the statement “Contains or May Contain: (Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Wheat, Gluten, Milk Products, Egg, Seafood, Shellfish, Fish, or any other allergen).” This statement is important for people with food intolerances and for those with food allergies. However, while a food intolerance may cause irritating symptoms, a food allergy can be life threatening.

A food allergy is not nearly as common as a food intolerance. An example of this is lactose intolerance, which is an intolerance to the lactose in milk. Allergies are often genetic disorders while intolerances generally are not.
Differences Between Food Allergies and Food Intolerances
With a food allergy, it is the immune system that responds. The body mistakes the food (protein in the food) as a foreign invader and creates a defense against it. The allergic reaction develops when the antibodies respond to fight this invader. The symptoms associated with a food allergy include nausea, hives, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, pain in chest, shortness of breath, swelling of airways, and anaphylaxis.
A food intolerance differs from a food allergy because it does not cause an immune response. Instead, the digestive system reacts to an irritant, which just happens to be a certain food. This reaction can also take place if the body is unable to breakdown a certain food or food component. Symptoms of intolerance include nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and irritability.
It can be difficult to tell the different between an allergy and an intolerance bases solely on the symptoms because some symptoms overlap. An allergy will present itself as a reaction to any quantity of the allergen while it often takes a larger portion to cause symptoms of an intolerance.
Prevention of any of these symptoms involves avoiding that substance if it is an allergen and either avoiding or limiting the food that causes the intolerance symptoms.
For further information check out these web sites:

allergies, food, gluten, health, heart, life, and more:

Relevant to: Allergy or Intolerance + recipe