Know All about food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies

March 4, 2024
5
Minute Read

By Joelle Wardeh 

Licensed Functional Nutritionist at Yutopia. 

Food reactions, including food allergies, represent a life-threatening immune response that can occur in both children and adults. While food allergies typically manifest in childhood, food intolerances, and sensitivities can develop later in life due to a condition called a 'leaky gut' or increased permeability of the intestinal lining. In a 'leaky gut,' gaps in the intestinal lining allow food particles to pass through, triggering an inflammatory reaction.

What’s the difference between food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities?

Many people confuse food allergies and food intolerances because the symptoms can look the same at times. However, there is an important distinction. As mentioned before, food allergies are life-threatening whereas food intolerances or sensitivities are milder reactions. In both cases, the body creates an immune reaction. 

For allergies, it is IgE mediated causing a rapid allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. For example, if you have a food allergy to eggs, your immunoglobulin antibodies might incorrectly identify eggs as a threat, which then triggers the release of histamines, which leads to common symptoms of inflammation, breathing problems, and anaphylaxis. The CDC suggests that an average of 6% of people have a legitimate food allergy.

For food sensitives, the allergic reaction is IgG-mediated causing a delayed and longer-lasting reaction.

Food intolerances usually affect the digestive system by creating gut inflammation, which can also have an impact on other systems of the body. No antibodies or immune system response is triggered with food intolerance, although if you have an intolerance for things like eggs, you might still experience diarrhea, breathing problems, or sweating after eating something with eggs. Up to 20% of the population experiences food intolerances.

If you experience problems after eating certain foods, it's important to get accurate testing for each condition so that you can distinguish between the two in terms of your health and dietary planning. Given that food intolerances are four times more common than food allergies, understanding your sensitivities can help you make minor changes that provide major relief. 

Symptoms of food allergies vs. intolerances and sensitivities

Symptoms for both food allergies and food intolerance can range from mild to severe. According to the AAAI, food intolerances do not result in allergic reactions and do not involve the immune system. Similarly, food intolerance won't show up on traditional allergy tests.

Food sensitivity symptoms include:

· Abdominal pain

· Bloating

· Gas

· Headaches

· Joint pains

· Nasal congestion

· Fatigue

· Brain fog

· Acne

· Eczema

Food intolerance symptoms include:

· Abdominal pain or cramps

· Bloating

· Gas

· Diarrhea/Constipation

· Nausea and Vomiting

· Skin rashes

· Anxiety

· Insomnia

Food allergy symptoms include:

· Shortness of breath

· Throat swelling

· Hives

· Chest pain

· Drop in blood pressure

What are the common foods associated with allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities?

Foods that are associated with intolerances or sensitivities are:

· Casein

· Gluten 

· Eggs

· Yeast

· Food colorings & Preservatives

· Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

· Sugar alcohols

· Sulfites (in wine, dried fruits, canned foods, apple cider vinegar)

Foods that are associated with food allergies are:

· Milk

· Eggs

· Peanuts

· Tree nuts

· Soy

· Fish

· Shellfish

Food allergy tests

Food allergy tests are conducted by a medical professional specializing in the treatment of allergies and asthma. Tests can include:

1. Blood tests

2. Skin tests

3. Tests, where you eat foods and a specialist, monitors your reactions

Some names include:

· IgE test

· sIgE test

· allergen-specific IgE in serum

· skin prick test (SPT)

· oral challenge test

If, for example, you are struggling with regular inflammation around the throat and the mouth, as well as itchiness and other symptoms of a potential food allergy, your test might include a battery of skin tests where doctors rub small samples from various foods on different parts of your back or your arm depending on how many things are being tested at once. Then, they monitor for any adverse reactions related to your immune system and histamines, like swelling, itching, and hives. 

Food intolerance tests

Food intolerance tests are designed to review your symptoms and manage what might be the trigger. Tests can include:

1. Blood tests

2. Special restrictive diets (elimination diet) 

3. Breath tests 

The most common food intolerance tests involve a small blood sample that is sent to a laboratory. Your blood sample gets assessed for any immunoglobulin-G antibodies. If there are elevated antibodies, that suggests a food intolerance.

Comprehensive comparison of food intolerance test vs allergy test

Food allergy and food intolerance tests vary in many ways.

- Immune system involvement

First is the immune system involvement. With a food allergy test, medical professionals look for any immune response, and if there isn't one, then it isn't a true allergy. Food intolerance tests will find certain raised levels of immunoglobulin if there is a food intolerance rather than a food allergy, and this can offer faster insight into dietary changes than the elimination diet.

- Testing methods

Second are the testing methods. Allergy tests rely on several methods, including blood, skin, and eating tests. Intolerance tests use restrictive diets and blood tests. 

- Onset of symptoms

Third is the onset of symptoms. When it comes to food allergies, symptoms are very fast, within 10 minutes of eating, which is why most allergy tests take place in a doctor's office. After they administer the different testing areas, they wait and monitor for the results as many immune responses happen very quickly.

A food intolerance test is something that can be sent away as the onset of symptoms does not happen as quickly and is tested with a different method.

- Severity

Food allergy tests can help determine whether you have a legitimate allergy or just a sensitivity or intolerance. The key difference between food allergies and food intolerance is the immune response and food allergies with that immune response can be life-threatening in some cases.

When to get a food intolerance test vs allergy test 

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above on a regular basis after eating similar foods, it might be time to consider getting a food allergy and intolerance test. These tests can provide a breakdown of which food sources are causing allergic reactions or other reactions within your body.

If you experience any of the following, it might be beneficial to get a food intolerance vs allergy test:

· Gastrointestinal symptoms, IBS, IBD, gluten intolerance

· Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s

· Hormonal imbalance

· Skin conditions like Eczema, Acne

· Unexplained fatigue and weakness

· Autism spectrum disorder

Such knowledge can inform what you eat, what additives you need to be aware of in medication or supplements, and what potential medication you might need to help you with allergies. 

Identifying these food intolerances through the results of your food allergy and food intolerance test can help you make meaningful changes that positively impact your:

· Energy

· Sleep

· Mood

· Weight

· Skin 

Get a food allergy and intolerance test with Yutopia

If you are interested in a food allergy and food intolerance test, Yutopia provides comprehensive testing for all food intolerance and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, including the following:

1. IgG FOOD MAP with CANDIDA + YEAST TEST

This test evaluates over 190 common herbs, spices, and foods to ensure that you have detailed insight into personalized sensitivities. Such information can help you improve your overall wellness by controlling symptoms and avoiding herbs, spices, and foods that cause them.

1. FOOD CROSS REACTION & GLUTEN/NON - GLUTEN INTOLERANCES TESTS

We utilize a specialized testing process that sends samples to a distinguished laboratory in the US, identifying non-celiac gluten sensitivity and other potential food intolerances with precision and accuracy. We rely on Cyrex Laboratories for all of our testing. They are known for their advanced testing methods, particularly in the area of food sensitivities and intolerances. 

With the information provided by your test results, you can identify whether you are one of the increasing 14.9% of the population struggling with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or whether you have other intolerances and sensitivities that have not yet been diagnosed.

Summing Up

It is important to get an accurate diagnosis for optimal health and well-being. If you are looking to combat chronic low energy, poor skin, and other symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life, seek professional advice on any food-related symptoms and consider a food allergy and intolerance test.

At Yutopia, we are affiliated with the latest laboratories for the detection of food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities. We will help you in the identification of the food triggers, and we will tailor your diet based on your results. 

Afterall, It all starts with Yu!

References:

Sulfites in Food: Risks and How to Spot Them on Labels (verywellfit.com)

Clinical effects of sulphite additives - PubMed (nih.gov)

Food Allergy: A Review - PubMed (nih.gov)

Food intolerance in patients with manifest autoimmunity. Observational study - PubMed (nih.gov)

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