What are Food Intolerances and How to Discover Them

What are Food Intolerances and How to Discover Them

With over 26 million Americans dealing with food allergies, it is certainly a hot topic.[1] While the terms are commonly used interchangeably, food allergies and intolerances are not the same and are often misunderstood.

A food allergy is when the immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in response to specific foods or ingredients. Symptoms, including swelling, hives, rash, itching skin, and vomiting, can appear almost instantly. The most common IgE-associated food allergies include milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, nuts, fish, and sesame.

Food intolerance is a non-immunological response, meaning the immune system is not activated to ingested food. These occur when the body has difficulty digesting or breaking down certain foods, possibly due to enzyme deficiencies and overall gastrointestinal health. Common food intolerances include lactose, gluten, or histamine intolerance.

Test don’t guess. Blood tests, skin testing, and elimination diets are ideal for identifying food allergies and intolerances. After determining known allergies, avoidance is necessary.

After identifying food intolerances, temporarily removing such foods is recommended. Targeted enzymes can provide some relief for food intolerances. Enzymes are essential for protein, carbohydrate, fat, and fiber digestion. Considering the increasing prevalence of food allergies and intolerances, proper management is essential for quality of life and overall health.[2]



[1] Gupta RS, Warren CM, Smith BM, et al. Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(1):e185630. Published 2019 Jan 4.

[2] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee on Food Allergies: Global Burden, Causes, Treatment, Prevention, and Public Policy; Oria MP, Stallings VA, editors. Finding a Path to Safety in Food Allergy: Assessment of the Global Burden, Causes, Prevention, Management, and Public Policy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2016 Nov 30. 3, Prevalence. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435940/