Food Intolerance vs Food Allergy
Food intolerance vs food allergy are two terms that are often used interchangeably. The difference between a food allergy and food intolerance lies in the. When you have a food allergy, your immune system causes the reaction whereas the reaction is triggered by the digestive system in case of food intolerance
Bodily reactions on consuming certain foods are very common, however, mostly are caused by a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. The digestive system plays a major role in responding to food intolerance which can occur due to improper breakdown of food. Incomplete or partial breakdown of food can occur due to enzyme deficiencies, sensitivity towards food additives or it can be due to naturally occurring chemicals in foods these chemicals or ingredients mainly include various dyes and monosodium glutamate (MSG) and flavor enhancers. Often, people can tolerate small quantities of food without facing problems.
A food allergic reaction is caused by the immune system. The immune system is responsible for the body’s defense mechanism. For instance, if a person is allergic to goat milk, the immunity system of the body recognizes the goat milk as an invader or allergen and hence produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) against the invader. The antibodies produced travel to the target cells of the areas where the chemicals are produced, causing an allergic reaction.
Different types of IgE have a different “radar” for each type of allergen. Unlike food intolerance, food allergy causes more severe or even life-threatening reactions. Frequent consumption of the allergic food triggers the release of IgE antibodies and the chemicals, including histamine, in an effort to fight the allergen or the “invader” in the body. Histamine can adversely affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system. People with a family history are more prone to have food allergies due to hereditary or genetic effects. However, there are also non-IgE mediated food allergies. The reactions in non- IGE mediated allergies occur when some other parts of the immune system are activated apart from IGE antibodies.
Symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance can be listed as-
Non-IGE food allergy symptoms are typically delayed, and occur mostly in the gastrointestinal tract. These primarily include vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating.
Food allergies can be triggered by the intake of even small quantities of food and it occurs every time the food is consumed. People with specific food allergies are mostly advised to completely eliminate the offending food from the routine diet. While on the contrary, food intolerances are often portion related, people with food intolerance may not show symptoms until they a large portion of the food is eaten or the food is consumed frequently. For example, a person with lactose intolerance may be able to drink milk in tea but becomes sick when a glass of milk is consumed.