Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

As awareness rises for just how connected food and health are, so has an increased interest in discovering what foods work best for our individual bodies. That’s led many people to look to food sensitivities—such as gluten intolerance–as the culprit for chronic illness, and mysterious-seeming complaints.

Many, however, confuse food sensitivity with food allergy. They’re very different creatures—here are a few differences.

The Symptoms are Different
Food allergies are actually allergies—they create an immune response, such as hives, difficulty breathing, itching or even anaphylaxis. Symptoms arrive quickly, and to very small amounts.

Intolerances, on the other hand, cause an inflammatory response, such as stomach troubles, fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, mood changes and a host of others. It may take a larger quantity of the food in question, and symptoms can even be delayed a day or two, which makes them much more difficult to diagnose.

The Testing is Different
Food allergies are determined by what is called a “scratch test”. A very small amount of a food is put under the skin and a reaction is monitored, and IgE antibodies are measured—they’re the ones that are present during an allergic response.

For food intolerances, a different antibody is present—IgG. Those antibodies stick around much longer than their IgE counterparts. To detect them, a small blood sample is taken as part of a three-step process and sent to a lab where reactivity can be determined by a biochemical process called ELISA testing.

Finding Your Sensitivities
To learn more about ELISA testing, and how to address possible food sensitivities, contact the clinic anytime at 705-444-5331, or book a complimentary meet-the-doctor visit here.