Food intolerance Vs Food allergy

The signs and symptoms of food intolerance

Many people who experience discomfort from certain foods may be unaware that they have a food intolerance, which is estimated to affect up to 20% of the global population.

What is food intolerance?

A food intolerance is a common digestive disorder that affects
millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by an adverse
reaction to a specific food or ingredient that does not involve the
immune system, making you feel unwell.

Is a food intolerance different to an allergy?

While food intolerance and food allergies share some similarities,
they are two distinct conditions with different causes and symptoms.
A food intolerance involves the digestive system, which it struggles to
break down the nutrients. Whereas Food allergies are a type of
immune system response triggering a defensive response and
allergic reaction.

What are the differences between the two?

Food allergies are caused by the immune system's reaction to
certain proteins in food that it mistakenly identifies as harmful,
leading to the body's defense system being activated. They are
relatively uncommon, affecting only 1-2% of adults.
On the other hand, food intolerances are typically due to insufficient
levels of enzymes or chemicals needed for the digestion of certain
nutrients. An example of this is lactose intolerance, where the body
does not produce enough of the lactase enzyme required for the
digestion of lactose, leading to malabsorption and symptoms like
bloating and changes in bowel movements.

How can we tell the difference?

Food allergies are much more serious than food intolerances
because they can cause life-threatening reactions, such as

The symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe and
- Hives
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of eyes, face, and lips
- Difficulty breathing
- In severe cases, anaphylaxis.
In contrast, food intolerances usually involve a delayed onset
symptoms, occurring hours to days after eating the offending food.

The symptoms of a food intolerance are generally less severe and
may include.
- Bloating
- Gas
- Stomach pain
- Diarrhoea
- Vomiting
- Heartburn

While food intolerances and food allergies share some similarities,
they are two distinct conditions with different causes and symptoms.
If you suspect that you have a food intolerance or allergy, you
should visit your GP to seek medical advice if you or your child have
recurring symptoms. 

- Unintended weight loss (more than 5% of your body weight in
six months) 
- Blood in your poop 
- Low blood iron levels 
- Fever 
- Family history of cervical or colon cancer, inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD) or coeliac disease 
- New onset of symptoms after 50 years of age