Food Allergy, Food Sensitivity, and Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

Food allergies are typically diagnosed when a person is younger, but today more physicians are realizing that just because a person isn’t “allergic” doesn’t mean they aren’t sensitive to particular foods they eat. There is a lot of conflicting information regarding food allergies, food sensitivity, and food intolerance. So, we are here to set the record straight. If you think the food you eat is causing an adverse reaction, visit The Olive Leaf clinic today. We can test you for any food allergies and sensitivities and help you find what foods are causing your issues.

What is a Food Allergy?

Food allergies manifest early on and usually appear suddenly. When a person eats a particular food, such as strawberries, they have a reaction immediately. All it takes is a small amount of food to trigger a food allergy— for some people just touching that food can result in a rash or difficulty breathing. People with food allergies will have reactions to foods every time they eat them and if the allergy is severe enough, it can be life threatening.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

Food sensitivities occurs when you have an unpleasant reaction to particular types of food. You won’t break out in hives or have difficulty breathing. Instead, you may suffer from acid reflux, nausea, or even have cramps. A food sensitivity is not a response from your immune system like food allergies are, and the reaction doesn’t always occur every time you eat the food either.

What is a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances mean your body lacks a specific enzyme to help breakdown the foods you eat. For example, if you are intolerant to dairy or celiac (gluten), you have an autoimmune disorder that does not allow your body to digest the foods you’re intolerant too. The reactions from a food intolerance can vary. Some patients suffer from malnutrition, severe stomach problems or even joint pain. If you’re intolerant to a particular food, you should avoid it. While it might not be life threatening, continuing to eat a food you’re intolerant to could lead to other life-threatening conditions.

Why Are They Confused?

A food intolerance and food sensitivity are the most confused terms. They share similar symptoms — nausea, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, etc. People with food sensitivities can still eat particular foods, but may have adverse reactions. People with a food intolerance, however, should avoid those foods at all costs.

Which Do I Have?

The best way to tell what you have is by getting a food sensitivity or food intolerance test. The team The Olive Leaf can run a sensitivity and intolerance test to identify what foods are triggering your symptoms. By omitting these foods from your diet, you may start to feel better and you’ll notice a significant improvement in your condition within a few weeks.