The Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Being limited in what you can eat can be troublesome, but it is important to understand whether you need to restrict your diet due to a food allergy or food intolerance. The two conditions are very different, although many people think that they are the same. In fact, they are caused by different problems and have different symptoms.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

What Is a Food Allergy?

Anytime your body develops an allergy to food or another substance, it is because the immune system has made a mistake. Often people will not have an allergic reaction the first time they encounter a food. It is the second or third time that they encounter the food that they have their first reaction. 

With a food allergy, the first time the food is introduced the immune system takes note and says, “This is bad. Attack it.” The next time the food is ingested, the immune system attacks because it has deemed the food harmful to the body. An allergic reaction is the result of this action by the immune system. Food allergies often lead to very severe, and sometimes life threatening, allergic reactions.

What is Food Intolerance?

If you have digestive problems after eating a particular food, you may have a food intolerance. A food intolerance means that the digestive system, for whatever reason, does not process the food properly. It can cause nausea, diarrhea, or other digestive issues. This is not an allergy because the immune system is not involved. With a food intolerance, you are not likely to suffer too badly if you are accidentally exposed to the food. 

If you have issues with eating some foods and you aren’t sure if it is a food allergy or food intolerance, we can help. Contact us today for allergy testing or more information.