What is a food intolerance?

daisies in a meadow

A food intolerance can occur when the body has difficulty digesting certain foods. When this occurs over time, large food particles (proteins) may enter the bloodstream and this can cause inflammation. When foods and drinks are digested, the proteins within them are broken down into smaller fragments for easy absorption into the body. Larger fragments can pass through without breaking down, and sometimes the body reacts by attacking them using antibodies called Immunoglobulin G’s (IgG).

What is the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?

The term ‘food intolerance’ and ‘food allergy’ are often confused and are two very different things. Genuine food allergy is relatively rare. Only about 2% of the adult population are affected. A food allergy is a swift response by the body’s immune system to a specific food. In this type of reaction, the body’s immune system mistakes a food for an ‘invader’ which often results in a rapid allergic reaction often within minutes, but generally within a maximum of two hours. This type of allergic reaction is commonly associated with reactions to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs and seafood. Food intolerance is quite different to food allergy and whilst the symptoms can impact the person’s quality of life, they are not life threatening. Food intolerances are much more common than food allergies.

Symptoms of a food intolerance

Food intolerance is a condition with a wide range of symptoms including digestive symptoms, bloating, migraines, low mood, weight gain, fatigue and skin problems such as eczema.

Symptoms of food intolerance can take up to 72 hours to appear after eating the trigger food or group of foods. On average people who suffer from food intolerances usually have around 4 or 5 trigger foods. Many people suffer for years, having formed a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms but are unable to enjoy a normal work and home life.

A food-specific IgG reaction should not be confused with food allergies, nor other types of food intolerances, which Lorisian do not test for. These include: Enzyme deficiencies e.g. lactose (milk sugar) intolerance, Coeliac disease; requiring lifelong avoidance of gluten and Chemical sensitivities e.g. histamine, tyramine, sulphites etc

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