Do you or one of your family members suffer from a food intolerance? Food allergies and intolerances have become quite commonplace these days. The outwards signs of a food allergy are nothing more than your immune system, putting up a defense. Your body views the food as harmful rather than nourishing.
Your system kicks into overdrive, producing antibodies to fight this invader. A reaction occurs when the antibodies are in a battle with the protein in a specific food item. Commonly, allergies are observed in things like shellfish and peanuts.
Now, food intolerance is different. An intolerance is a digestive problem more than an allergy. When you eat something, it passes the many channels through your digestive system.
If it’s something that your system cannot tolerate, then it makes it difficult for your body to digest it properly. One of the most common intolerance issues is caused by dairy, especially milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
The Prevalence of Food Allergies and Intolerances
Both food allergies and intolerances are quite common. It’s estimated that about one percent of the adult population in this country suffers from food allergies. Shockingly, about seven percent of the children have hypersensitivities that plague their system, some of which can be dangerous. Thankfully, most kids can overcome these issues as they grow.
Food intolerances are much more common than allergies. Almost everybody will experience some intolerance to the food they eat. The reaction is quite unpleasant, but you can learn to adjust your diet by making simple modifications.
When it comes to food intolerances, the most observed are those to lactose, an ingredient in milk products. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that there are more than 68 million people who suffer from lactose intolerance globally.
Identifying an Allergy from Food Intolerance
Food intolerance is not as severe, though it can still cause a great deal of discomfort. If your system cannot handle lactose, then eating anything with milk in it can cause you to have all sorts of symptoms. Sure, you can still have milk in your coffee or cereal, but you will pay the price for it afterward.
Intolerances aren’t deadly, in most cases, but they are certainly uncomfortable to handle. A food allergy is poisoning your system when you eat certain foods, while an intolerance makes it difficult for your body to process.
There may be some cases when a food allergy and intolerance lines are blurred, so you should ask your healthcare provider for help. An allergy test can quickly identify things that you should avoid.
Fifteen Signs of Food Intolerance
If you have a food allergy, then eating anything your allergic to will cause things like a rash, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chest pains, and swelling of the airways. Anaphylaxis can occur if the food allergy is severe, and this allergic reaction can cause you to have a full system failure. Your airways can close off, and you can experience a drop in your blood pressure.
Though not as severe, intolerance can be observed with the following symptoms:
1. Bloating & Cramping
2. Diarrhea & Constipation
7. Migraine Headaches
8. Heartburn & Acid Reflux
9. Joint Pain
10. Shortness of Breath
11. Irritability or Nervousness
13. Stomach Pain
15. Runny Nose
It’s essential to chart any adverse effects you have when eating foods. It’s not uncommon for people to develop intolerances after years of having no issues. Keeping a journal of the foods you eat and your digestive system’s problems can help your doctor target the issue.
What Causes Food Allergies?
First, you should know that there are genetic components to allergies and intolerances. For instance, if your mother or father was allergic to dairy products, then they may pass it along to you. Genetics plays a significant part in your medical issues, so this may be a contributing factor.
Nevertheless, you can develop a reaction without anyone else in your family suffering from it. So, this is not the only deciding factor. An allergy develops the very first time you eat a food that your system can’t process.
As stated above, it’s a protein found in foods that your body sees as harmful. The immune system does what it’s meant to do, and it tries to fight off what it sees as dangerous. Your body creates a substance called immunoglobulin E, or it’s often called IgE.
If you should eat that food again, then the body has already marked it as dangerous. So, it immediately sends out IgE and histamine to try to combat it. The goal is for the system to get rid of the foreign invader from your body.
The problem is that histamine is quite potent, and this chemical can affect not only your respiratory system but your heart, skin, and digestive system. If your allergic to shellfish, the first time you eat it, you might feel your airway close. However, the next time you may experience intense itching and a rash.
It’s all dependent on where the body releases the histamine. If your body releases it into your skin, you will develop things like hives or an intense rash. However, if it’s released into your digestive system, then you will spend the day in the restroom.
It’s also not uncommon to have a myriad of symptoms if histamine is released into diverse areas of the body at once.
What Causes an Intolerance?
When it comes to intolerance with food, many factors can contribute to this common issue. For instance, those who have lactose intolerance don’t have the enzymes to digest the proteins found in these foods properly.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for a person to develop an intolerance to food additives. Have you ever heard of monosodium glutamate or MSG? It’s a common additive used to help enhance the flavor of food and make it last longer.