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The Health Minister | Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

The Difference between Food Intolerance and Food Allergy

Food Intolerance

It is not rare that some individuals react to some particular types of foods. What even makes it even worse is that some foods cause the same kind of physical reaction, thereby creating more confusion as to the difference between the two terms. 

But in essence, food intolerance is a condition that arises when your body cannot deal with a particular type of food. This occurs when your body cannot generate enough of a specific chemical or enzyme that is required for the proper digestion of food. The fact is that some people are born with this condition while others end up developing this intolerance to certain foods later on in life. 

The effects caused by food intolerance are not too serious since it is a chemical reaction that is limited to digestive issues. Symptoms associated with food intolerance include cramping, gas, abdominal pain, and bloating. A few cases have even been shown that people can still consume the food that causes the intolerant effect, though care must be taken about the amounts.

Some of the causes of food intolerance include:

  • Bacterial toxins (or food poisoning)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Recurring stress (caused by psychological factors)
  • Sensitivity to specific food preservatives or additives
  • Lack of a particular enzyme needed for digesting particular foods

Food Allergy

Food allergy is a response by the immune system which is triggered when you eat a specific type of food. When you consume the offending food, your body thinks it is harmful and produces immunoglobulin E – i.e. IgE, or antibodies – to defend against the food, thus bringing about the reaction. The symptoms associated with allergic reactions can be mild or life-threatening otherwise known as Anaphylaxis. It can also occur anywhere in your body and happens as fast as within twenty minutes.

Symptoms of food allergy include:

  • Hives
  • Tingling mouth; swelling of face, lips, throat, and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhoea

Examples of food allergies include:

  • Peanut allergy
  • Milk allergy
  • Soy allergy
  • Shellfish allergy
  • Celiac disease, etc.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

A severe condition that is brought about by food intolerance is the Leaky Gut syndrome. This is a condition in which the cells that line the intestines are damaged and then, separate. This creates gaps through which toxic food substances pass from the intestines and into the bloodstream, thus triggering inflammation. It is medically believed that leaky gut syndrome occurs as a result of food particles that have not undergone the process of digestion, bacterial germs, and toxins.

Gut Health

To maximise the soundness of your health, you should always be mindful of what happens in your belly. In case you are not aware, you do have a ‘second brain’ which runs the route of your digestive tract – known as the enteric nervous system. This region contains approximately one hundred million cells and is capable of ‘remembering’, ‘thinking’, and ‘learning’. 

A lot of information flows to and from your brain to your gut, thanks to the over thirty neurotransmitters – brain chemicals – that also bears the same resemblance as those found in the human brain.

Final Thoughts

Although your ‘second brain’ may not be capable of making cognitive thoughts, it explains how you sense or intuitively feel about an environment or situation. This is important when it comes to the type of food you consume as it will enable you to be wary of foods that cause allergies or intolerance in your body. This also has the additional benefit of helping you to lose – or gain – weight as the case may be.

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