Food allergy vs food intolerance: Do you know the difference? | Health

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the food consumption habits amongst people and with diet consciousness setting in, people have rejigged their food consumption patterns by following social media sites. Beyond consuming the recommended daily servings of the required food groups, it’s important to know which foods, if any, you ought to avoid since food allergies and intolerances (or sensitivities) affect many folks hence, it’s crucial to know the differences as most of the time food intolerance is confused with food allergy.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Akash Shah, Consultant Pathologist at Neuberg Supratech Reference Laboratories, explained, “A food allergy happens when the immune reaction toward a specific food protein (allergen). Typically, the immune system goes for a toss when it detects a harmful substance. It does that by building up the antibodies. When someone gets a food allergy, their immune system picks out a specific protein as harmful and makes antibodies to fight it off. This leads to a range of symptoms, including skin rashes and breathing problems. The foods most ordinarily involved are egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, fish, seafood, wheat and soy.”

On the other hand, he highlighted, “Food intolerances are trouble digesting foods. Food intolerances occur due to the lack of an enzyme needed to digest certain foods or, sometimes, as a reaction to additives or present compounds in foods. Individuals with food intolerances could also be able to eat small amounts of bothersome foods but once they have too much, their body reacts. for instance, many of us with lactose intolerance find we can drink a small amount of milk with meals or eat yogurt or other foods that are lower in lactose without experiencing any symptoms.”

How to determine your food allergy or intolerance?

Dr Akash Shah answered, “Food intolerance testing is an in vitro diagnostic test for the determination of intolerance against 280+ food antigens. This test is done from blood. It can be used to support dietary modification and monitor dietary compliance. Before modifying a diet based on results, it is important to discuss the results with a physician or a dietician.”

He added, “Food allergy testing is done by different methods including Immunocap, Microarray and ELISA. Food allergy is a severe allergic reaction to food that can be fatal when it leads to anaphylactic reactions while food intolerance is not that severe and gives you discomfort in day-to-day life.”