Most of us have experienced discomfort after eating certain foods at one time or another. Although some symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance can be similar, the two are quite different.
Food Allergy: An Immediate Allergic Response
Allergies typically develop during childhood, affecting approximately 1 in every 13 children in Canada. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Food allergies among children has risen approximately 50% from 1997 to 2011.
Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, seafood, gluten/wheat, soy and corn account for 90-95% of all reactions. These reactions involve the immune system and occur almost immediately after being exposed to the allergen, although some reactions can occur up to two hours later. Even trace amounts of the food can trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction. It is quite rare to experience more than two food allergies.
The first signs of an allergic reaction are usually an itchy mouth and swollen lips, tongue and mouth. A reaction can quickly escalate to anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can result in death if not given epinephrine in time. Allergies are persistent; simply avoiding the food does not typically reduce the symptoms of allergy; however, milk, egg and soy allergies may be eventually outgrown.
Food Intolerance: A Delayed Reaction
Food intolerances can develop at any age and it is estimated that 30-45% of the population suffer from food intolerances. It is not unusual for people to develop multiple food intolerances throughout their lives.
The most common food stressors are dairy, wheat/gluten, eggs, seafood, soy, corn, peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, sugars, yeast, alcohol, coffee and food additives. Symptoms are not life threatening and can develop anywhere from one to 72 hours after having ingested the offending foods. Larger amounts of these foods can be consumed before symptoms appear.
Symptoms include but are not limited to bloating, gas, heartburn, stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea, rashes, eczema, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, acne and joint pain. It is possible to outgrow food intolerances by avoiding the food stressors or to overcome them completely through food intolerance correction.
Think you may have an intolerance? Book an appointment today to find out. Already know you have a food intolerance? Schedule a consultation to discuss how you can conquer your intolerance and enjoy all foods again.