Reactions to foods are extremely common and can range in severity, however, what most people don’t realize is that the large majority of bodily reactions are caused by food intolerances as opposed to food allergies. While food intolerances and allergies do share similar symptoms, it is understandable to mistake one for the other. By learning more about how your body reacts to certain foods, you can make adjustments in your diet accordingly and feel your best!

What Is A Food Allergy?

A food allergy directly affects your immune system and is something to take seriously. This means that coming into contact with or ingesting a small amount of a certain food will cause mild to severe symptoms, which in some cases can be life-threatening. When your immune system recognizes the food that you are allergic to, it immediately views it as an invader and begins the immune system response by releasing histamine. This is what causes the allergic reaction and the many symptoms that can be present during a reaction.

Most Common Food Allergies:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

Symptoms of a Food Allergy Can Include:

  • Hives
  • Flushed skin or rash
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Face, tongue, or lip swelling
  • Tingling/itchy sensation in the mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Throat tightness
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or someone you know with a food allergy starts experiencing these symptoms, immediately stop consuming the food, deliver emergency medication (such as epinephrine) and call for emergency medical attention.

What Is a Food Intolerance?

While a food allergy results from an immune response and is more life-threatening, a food intolerance involves the digestive system. Food intolerances are extremely common, with an estimated 20 percent of the population being affected. With intolerances, the body cannot digest certain foods as well as others which often results in mild to extreme discomfort and irritation.

Most Common Food Intolerances:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Caffeine
  • Fructose
  • Salicylates
  • Amines
  • FODMAPs
  • Sulfites

Symptoms of a Food Intolerance Can Include:

  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

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