Your Cheat Sheet to Differentiate Allergies and Food Intolerances

Physical Wellness, Allergy, Food Intolerances


Allergies are relatively well-known but not so food intolerances. Yet, food intolerances are surprisingly common and many people with chronic conditions would have some forms of food intolerances that contribute to their chronic illnesses. The most common of these food intolerances are wheat and dairy.
Darius Soon, 11/1/2014 – Get free updates of new posts here

Julius was very puzzled when we said that he was allergic to dairy and wheat.

“But I don’t feel anything at all when I eat these foods.”

Behind this question is a common misunderstanding of what constitute allergies. There are two kinds of food allergies – one type is immediate, also known as type 1 response. The second kind of food allergies, which tends to create a delayed reaction, is the more common allergy reaction that we see in chronically ill people. To distinguish it, for the purpose of this article, we would call the first type a true allergy while the delayed reaction a food intolerance.

In our lymphatic system, our body produces antibodies whose purpose is to neutralize toxins or foreign substances considered harmful to the body. These antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins, abbreviated as Ig. There are 5 kinds of Igs – IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM.

“Because of the long time-lag, the cause and effect is less clear, and many people never trace their physical issues to food intolerance.”
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The true allergy is caused by a reaction with IgE (think “emergency”!). The body goes into a histamine reaction. Symptoms include hives, itching, stomach pain, swelling, hyperventilation and even in severe cases, death. Foods which release histamines are common culprits. These include peanuts, egg whites and alcohol. Peanuts allergy affects up to 1.3% of the general population, and is the most common cause of death from allergies.

Food intolerances are less well-known, which explains why Julius has never heard of it. Food intolerances tend to affect IgG, IgM and IgA. There is a delayed reaction for symptoms of hours to up to two or three days after the consumption of the offending food substances. Because of the long time-lag, the cause and effect is less clear, and many people never trace their physical issues to food intolerance. Yet, this is surprisingly common.

For example, one of my clients, Abelene, often had headaches after eating bread and other wheat-based products. Parents of Lionel, an autistic child, often see diarrhea like-symptoms after a cup of cow’s milk. When these offending foods are removed, we see improvements in all areas – ranging from more energy, less inflammatory pain to clearing up of sinuses issues.

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