What is the difference between food allergy and food sensitivity? Unlike food allergies, such as an allergy to peanuts or shellfish, food sensitivity reactions are rarely extreme or life-threatening. However, food sensitivities are more common than most people realize and can subtly affect health as well as mood.
While food sensitivities are often undiagnosed, there is a growing awareness of this issue as well as ways to detect food sensitivities.
Allergy, Sensitivity, or Intolerance? The Difference Between Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity
While similar, there is a distinct difference between allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity. Let’s explore the differences.
Food allergies are an immune response that triggers a histamine reaction within the body.
These types of allergies can have extreme reactions, such as hives, or worse, anaphylaxis shock. A reaction to a food allergy is generally immediate and extreme, often requiring medical attention.
You may be wondering, ‘can adults develop food allergies?’ Well, the answer is yes. According to Mayo Clinic, it is possible to happen, especially with foods that commonly cause allergies, including peanuts, fish, and nuts.
Food intolerances occur when the body lacks the enzyme necessary to digest a certain food.
Consequently, there is an uncomfortable digestive reaction. An example would be lactose intolerance and cabbage intolerance symptoms.
Those with lactose intolerance have insufficient amounts of the lactase enzyme necessary to digest milk sugar. Food intolerances are genetic and often run in families.
Food sensitivity, on the other hand, is harder to pin down.
In contrast to a food allergy, the reaction to a food sensitivity can be delayed for days after eating the triggering food. Also, unlike food intolerance, the cause of the reaction is unknown.
However, some suspect IgG antibodies are reactive to certain foods. Consequently, those with food sensitivities may never know what’s causing their symptoms because of the delayed and often vague reaction.
You may be wondering, can food sensitivities cause headaches? The answer is yes, some foods can cause headaches along with fatigue.
What If You Suspect You Have a Food Sensitivity?
First, keep a record of all the foods you eat, along with when your symptoms occur. Do this for several weeks.
Next, begin an elimination diet. This involves eliminating foods one at a time for two weeks or longer.
When you are symptom-free for the ensuing weeks, you know you have pinpointed a trigger food.
Are you experiencing breakouts? You can also try a food sensitivity test for acne. With this one, your gut health and the foods you eat will be checked by specialists.
Living with Food Sensitivities
Fortunately, by eliminating the foods which trigger your symptoms, you can eliminate your symptoms within weeks.
It’s also advisable to eat organic as much as possible. Food additives, pesticides, and herbicide residues are ubiquitous in common foods and can also be the source of food sensitivities.
While it may be difficult to eliminate some foods completely, cutting back on certain foods will cut down on your symptoms and discomfort. Living with food sensitivities involves finding a balance to minimize your symptoms as well as maintaining a healthy diet.
It’s important to know the difference between food allergy and food sensitivity. This is because it will give you an idea of what you’re dealing with, especially if you’re a parent. This way, you’ll be able to give your children the proper nourishment possible without putting them at risk.
If you have any questions about your or your children’s reactions to certain foods, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.