All three of these words are thrown around often and at times, interchangeably, but there are big differences between these terms and in the responses your body makes to them.

Food Allergies

These immune reactions to food are confirmed by an IgE immune response. IgE is an important part of the “first line of defense” against pathogens that enter the body. Reactions due to allergies cause acute or immediate responses once a trigger food is ingested.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may include:

  • rash
  • swollen
  • itchy tongue
  • runny nose
  • hives
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • closed airway

Common sources of food allergies include:

  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • wheat
  • soy
  • milk
  • fish
  • shellfish

Food Intolerance

Food intolerances are non-immune reactions to certain food components such as lactose, histamines, alcohol, and gluten that occur when a person is lacking the digestive enzyme or nutrient responsible for breaking down these food components.

Intolerances can cause:

  • flushing
  • cold or flu-like symptoms
  • inflammation and general discomfort because the body lacks the appropriate tools to break down trigger foods

Common trigger foods or ingredients are:

  • dairy products
  • sulfites
  • histamines
  • lectins
  • preservatives