Nearly everyone has eaten something that did not agree with them. But other times your reaction may be more severe and frequent, which may be a sign of a food intolerance or even an allergy. Here’s how to tell the difference and what to do about it.
This is a response from the digestive system. The body may lack a specific enzyme needed to properly digest a specific ingredient in certain foods. Examples are lactose in dairy and gluten in wheat. Common symptoms include the following:
- Gas, cramps, or bloating
- Stomach pain
- Irritability or Nervousness
An allergic reaction occurs when the body mistakes a food ingredient—usually a protein—as harmful and defends itself using antibodies. The most common food allergies are shellfish, nuts, fish, eggs, and milk. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
- Rash or hives
- Cramping or stomach pain
- Shortness of Breath
Even a tiny amount of food will trigger an allergic reaction. In contrast, intolerances are dose related—symptoms may not occur unless you eat a large portion or eat the food frequently.
Most intolerances are identified through trial and error. For instance, record when symptoms appear and what you ate and then look for commonalities. Another method is an elimination diet. You remove any suspect foods until you are symptomfree. You then reintroduce the foods, one at a time, until symptoms reappear, with the goal to identify the problem food and the amount. Skin or blood tests can confirm an allergy, as can elimination diets. If you suspect you may have a food intolerance or allergy see your doctor.
Source of information: https://www.uclahealth.org/Documents/Healthy-Years/HY_Aug2015.pdf