Food Intolerance & Food Allergy, what is the difference?
Finding out if your food reaction was due to an allergy or food intolerance is not difficult.
The Causes & Symptoms defined
Food allergy (full article >>) is caused when a food particle (e.g. protein) enters our digestive system and our immune system thinks it is a harmful body (e.g. bacteria). The immune system is hence triggered and goes on the attack resulting in allergy symptoms as in the table below.
Food intolerance (full article >>) is caused when our digestive system does not produce sufficient enzymes (chemical proteins) to help break down food into smaller bits. These larger parts of food remain undigested and unabsorbed by the intestines. As this food travels deeper in the digestive tract, bacteria that live in us digest it themselves resulting in production of gases (wind) and leading to the symptoms explained below.
|Food Intolerance & Food Allergy Comparison|
|Cause||not enough enzymes to breakdown the sugars, fat or proteins consumed in foods||harmless proteins in food is mistakenly thought to be those of harmful bacteria by the immune system|
|Age||starts later in childhood but most common in adults, may be temporarily present in the form of colic in babies for a short time||starts usually from early infancy and more common in children who overgrow it, triggered in later adult life in some who never had it in childhood|
affects the digestive system only, mainly:
usually immediate and affecting more that one part of the body-
digestion: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
|Morbidity||never life threatening||can be fatal, e.g. peanut allergy|
While avoidance is the best cure, some times no matter how hard we can try, unwanted food comes in touch.
Food Intolerance Treatment
The only way to treat food intolerance is by digestive enzymes. Since more then half the world population is food intolerant to some degree it is no surprise that there are so many manufacturers producing digestive enzymes. They simply supplement our diet for a complete breakdown of foods. As in nearly everything, enzymes are not equal from manufacturer to another, and I am pleased to inform you that I have tested or researched most of them in the market produced in USA, UK and Germany. They all yield benefits and are beneficial to some degree, but the ones that stood out by far are those made in UK by BioCare which I hence I opted to make available here at foodreactions.org (products page >>). They are the only ones that work consistently without having to keep increasing the dose, they last long enough in the day and come with many additional components, such as live healthy bacteria (acidophilus). They are indeed superb and have changed the lives of thousands. Moreover, as they are extracted from plants and vegetables (and not porcine) they are suitable for vegans.
Avoidance is definitely the best way to go, especially if the reactions are severe. Doctors can prescribe drugs to control continuous reactions while over the counter medicines are also available. However, the same article mentioned above written by Anthony J. Cichoke also goes to explain how digestive enzymes are helping to treat allergies. Enzymes not only break down sugars and fats but also proteins into smaller blocks. Hence, if the offending protein is broken down this does not remain a threat to the immune system.
Anthony J. Cichoke in his article advises "An unpleasant reaction to a food may not always be a sign of a food allergy, it could indicate a food intolerance. Fortunately, enzyme therapy can help to overcome both of these by enhancing immune function and improving digestion."
Read Anthony J. Cichoke review 'Enzymes to the rescue' as published in Better Nutrition.