One of the basic needs of human beings is food. You cannot survive without food because it is the source of nourishment and energy. Our bodies get nourishment by digesting the food that we ingest and absorbing it into the various functional systems. However, some people are allergic to some foods while others are intolerant to some foods. These are two different terms with different meanings. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between food allergy and food intolerance.
A food allergy is a reaction that occurs from your immune system after consuming some foods. Our bodies are equipped with immune systems that work by fighting any pathogens or any foreign material. If you are allergic to a certain food, it means your immune system recognizes that food substance as a pathogen, and that is why it is reacting against it.
What causes food allergies?
- Familial history
Most of the food allergies that people experience, they have inherited from their parents or any relative in the family lineage. A food allergy is always genetic. If you are a parent who is allergic to a certain food, then the chance is one of your children will develop the same food allergy.
Age is also a factor of food allergy. Statistics show that most of the toddlers have some allergies, which some can go away as they grow up while others remain.
Symptoms of food allergy
- The itchy sensation inside the throat, ears, and mouth
- Swelling of some body parts
- Coughing and vomiting sometimes
- Weak pulse
- Reddening of the skin
Food intolerance is a term that is used to refer to the difficulty of the digestive system of a person to digest some types of foods. If you are intolerant to a certain food, once you consume it, you egest it in the same form that you ingested it. For example, if your child is lactose intolerant, when he/she consumes milk, it will come out in the same form he/she drank.
What causes food intolerance?
- Lack of specific enzymes
Food intolerance is mainly caused by a lack of certain enzymes or hormones in the body. For example, a person who is lactose intolerance lacks the enzyme lactase, which is the response for converting milk to glucose and galactose. The work of an enzyme is to facilitate a chemical reaction. If a specific enzyme is absent, then that reaction will not take place.
- Underlying digestive disorders
Most of the people who are diagnosed with food intolerance are those who have underlying digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Some people, who have also undergone surgery of the stomach or the bowel, may experience food intolerances.
Symptoms of food intolerance
- Bloating of the stomach
- Diarrhea is common
- Stomach ache
- Headaches and migraine
- A runny nose
For both food allergy and food intolerance, the symptoms do not appear immediately after consuming the food. It always takes some time for you to experience the symptoms.