Do You Have A Food Intolerance, Sensitivity, Or Allergy?
Jenn recently started experiencing an upset stomach after eating. Between regular bloating, abdominal cramping, and inconsistent stools, she knew something wasn’t sitting well with her gut.
After doing some research, she started to think that she was dealing with some kind of food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance.
The problem was that she wasn’t sure which one! In fact, she was feeling a little overwhelmed about how they all varied.
Jenn knew that if she better understood what the difference was between all three, she could start making shifts to improve her gut health.
Maybe you can relate to Jenn?
Or maybe, you didn’t even know that there was a difference between food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances? Either way, this blog post will teach you what each one is, the symptoms, and the top food intolerances.
We’ll also discuss various ways to test to see if you have any of these gut imbalances.
Grab a pen and paper, and let’s dive in!
DO YOU HAVE A FOOD INTOLERANCE, SENSITIVITY, OR ALLERGY?
Let’s distinguish between food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies, as these terms are often confused and (by mistake) used interchangeably.
A food intolerance is not an immune reaction, so it does not involve blood cells at all.
Instead, it is a reaction that takes place in the digestive system itself. Intolerances are relatively common, and the symptoms include gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.
A sensitivity and allergy, on the other hand, are an immune reaction – not a digestive system reaction.
Therefore, they are more severe. A sensitivity is caused by slower-acting antibodies, which means that the symptoms are more subtle, longer lasting, and typically less severe.
Common symptoms of a food sensitivity include brain fog, inflammation, fatigue, and headaches.
Finally, an allergy, which is also an immune response, is the most serious and severe — typically occurring soon after ingestion of the allergen.
Symptoms include: hives, rash, flush, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and even anaphylactic shock.
The good news is that — unlike for sensitivities — there are many accurate tests to check for potential allergies.
TOP FOOD INTOLERANCES
Top food intolerances include:
Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerant people don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, and so the lactose sugar found in milk sits in the digestive system and is fermented by bacteria.
This disturbs the gut microbiota and produces a build-up of gases.
Gluten Intolerance: Gluten intolerance refers to digestive symptoms that follow the consumption of the binding protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Chemical Sensitivity: Many foods contain natural chemicals that can’t be tolerated by some people, but not by others.
Additive Intolerance: There are many different additives found in packaged foods, including antioxidants, artificial flavors, artificial colorings, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, preservatives, and sweeteners.
Histamine Intolerance: Histamine is produced naturally in the body during an allergic reaction, but it’s also found in cured meats and fermented foods, like sauerkraut, vinegar, and soy sauce.
Intolerance occurs when there’s not enough of the enzyme that breaks histamine down.
TOP WAYS TO IDENTIFY FOOD INTOLERANCES
While a food allergy is easy to test for and diagnose, a food intolerance unfortunately is not.
An elimination and reintroduction diet is the best way to identify an intolerance. During an elimination diet, you remove suspect foods or ingredients from your diet for at least 21 days because you think they may be causing intolerance symptoms.
After 21 days of avoiding the suspect foods, you can add one food back in each week for four weeks and assess any problematic symptoms.
If any of the food you add back in causes symptoms, remove them completely from the diet. Once you do this, the body will have to contend with one less stressor.
Once you have found which foods aren’t problematic, you can include them in a rotation diet.
A rotation diet consists of rotating a variety of foods and nutrients over a 4-5 day period. This method helps to avoid the development of a food intolerance (which often results in overeating of a certain food).
While a food allergy is tested using the IgE food antibody test, a food sensitivity can be tested via the IgG food antibody test.
The IgE antibodies are fast-acting, leading to the immediate symptoms characteristic of a food allergy.
However, the IgG antibodies are slower acting, leading to the time-lapsed and longer-lasting symptoms of a food sensitivity.
But both a food allergy and a food sensitivity are facilitated by the immune system — unlike a food intolerance which only involves the digestive system.
Because of this, there is no foolproof blood test for a food intolerance – only the elimination diet!
While finding out what your body responds well to and what it does not can be a process and take time, it is absolutely worth it.
Just imagine yourself without bloat, stool inconsistency, and without inflammation! You’ll feel and look so much better!
Do you have any experience with food intolerances, sensitivities, or allergies? How did you discover them?
Share with us in the comments below!