Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

It seems everybody today has something on the menu that they don’t like or want to avoid.  In the late 1980s we started the health kick with eating right and doing step aerobics and pretty soon “please leave the MAYO off the sandwich” became a typical comment at lunch.  As the years have gone by and we have evolved into a health conscience society we have changed our wants and needs into a cleaner, less fatty diet; restaurants serving single serving desserts so that we can’t possibly say no.  Now, in 2012 how many of us are saying no to the bread on the table and why ?

When we see our family, co-workers, and friends tell us that they can’t eat the hot rolls served we all wonder the reason – are they allergic, are they trying to watch their carbohydrates or is it just the in thing to do in this day and age.  So, what is the difference between a true allergy and a food intolerance ?

Food Allergy – affects the immune system, antibodies(also known as Immunoglobulin) is a protein produced by our cells to fight off a “foreign” protein ( the allergen); histamines(chemical our body produced when you are having an allergic reaction) are then released. The result that affects skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or cardiovascular systems – can be life threatening.

Food Intolerance – Does not affect the immune system, some types of intolerance can be pre-treated-such as lactose intolerance, usually damage to the small intestine which affects the absorption of nutrients.  Usually not life threatening.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance can mask themselves in different ways and both can be very painful and/or scary to those experiencing them.  So, next time someone you are with says that they have an allergy or an intolerance to a food it’s ok to ask questions; just remember they are avoiding the food for a reason and respect their choices.



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