Reacting differently to certain foods that others eat might keep you on edge most times especially when you have to eat out with a group of friends or co-workers. Are you wondering if you have a food allergy or you are just sensitive to some foods? Well, it can be pretty tough to tell which particular one it is you have.
There’s a thin line that differentiates food allergy and food sensitivity. That thin line is the way your body reacts to the food taken. A reaction that is due to a food allergy is usually triggered by the immune system while the reaction caused by food sensitivity or intolerance is triggered by the digestive system. In other words, food sensitivity is the body’s inability to digest certain foods.
Let’s take a look at both subjects individually.
Your body is so wonderfully made that it has soldiers that identify threats in whatever form they might be and fight them off. This defense mechanism of the body is known as the immune system. The immune system defends the body against fungus, bacteria, viruses, and harmful substances that can be found in foods or drinks. You can say you have a food allergy when your immune system sees the proteins of the food you eat as invaders and produces antibodies to fight it causing your body to react negatively to the food.
According to Shelly Farzan, an allergist and immunologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, food allergy is a result of immune-mediated reaction to food or beverage. The most common food allergy reaction is caused by the immunoglobulin E (IgE). The immunoglobulin E are allergic antibodies that cause an immediate reaction to the release of chemicals such as histamine. Food allergies range from mild to severe. Unlike food sensitivity, food allergies can be fatal. In certain cases, just a contact with small amounts of the allergen can lead to death. It doesn’t matter if the allergen is inhaled, ingested or touched, if an individual is allergic to a particular food, the best way to be safe is to stay away from the food.
Here are symptoms of food allergy:
- Digestive problems
- Swollen and itchy skin hives.
- Anaphylaxis, breathing difficulties, dizziness, wheezing, choking and death
90% of food allergies are caused by eight common foods. Here are eight common foods responsible for allergic reactions
- Tree nuts
www.bosterbio.com tells us that there are also rare food allergens such as gluten, maize, red meat, gelatin, avocados etc.
There are non-IgE related reactions which happen when other parts of the immune system except the IgE antibodies are activated. Non-IgE food allergies are noticed in the gastrointestinal tract.
Now, let’s take a look at Food sensitivity.
The first thing to know about food sensitivity is that it is not life-threatening and it is usually self-diagnosable. Food sensitivity or intolerance occurs when your digestive system cannot tolerate a certain food. That is, it cannot break down or process that particular food. For example Cases of food sensitivity are more common than food allergies. If you are lactose intolerant, it means your body cannot break down lactose (sugar found in milk). Here are some reasons why you may be sensitive to some foods.
- Absence of the proper enzymes needed for the breaking down of the food
- Sensitivity to caffeine and certain chemicals
- Reactions to food preservatives or additives like artificial colors
- Sensitivity to naturally occurring sugars in foods such as broccoli, onions, etc.
How would you know that you have a food sensitivity? Here are the symptoms to know you have a food sensitivity or intolerance.
Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
Most food sensitivity symptoms are digestive system- related. They include;
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Gas and bloating
Food allergies today are diagnosable using elisa kits. Recent advancements in science have brought to light different methods to treat food allergies and sensitivity. One of such was is the use of custom rabbit polyclonal antibody services. So do well to visit your healthcare provider to suggest the best ways to handle your food allergies and sensitivities.