Welcome to Allergy Free & Cheap Like Me!

gluten, dairy, egg & soy free

I’m so happy you are here! I hope to create a place for you to find lots of information about food allergies, as well as, lots of goodies to help you not only eat better, but more affordably! Please feel free to share all of your own tips, tricks, and recipes too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again very soon! You can read more about my allergy story here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Healthy Crumbs Week: Feedback Friday: Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

Healthy Crumb: Feedback Friday

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance
I often get asked the question, what's the difference between having a food allergy and having a food intolerance?  A lot of times these two terms seem to get used interchangeably. Hopefully I will be able to help clear up any discrepancies you or others may have about food allergies vs. intolerances.  
The word “allergy” is frequently overused and misused to include any irritating or uncomfortable symptoms after eating. However, the term "allergy" should only be used for the symptoms which develop after eating certain foods that are part of the body's immune response. In an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system mistakenly believes the food is harmful and tries to protect itself. In doing so it overreacts and produces, harmful antibodies, called immunoglobulin E (IgE), and other chemicals such as histamines to fight the food “allergens”. This type of reaction can cause reactions, sometimes severe, that affect the skin, breathing, gut, and heart. IgE antibodies can also “cross react“ with other allergens, causing a person to become allergic to a related allergen. For example, a person with a birch pollen allergy can suddenly become allergic to apples or kiwi fruits. Also overexposure to certain foods can also cause a cross reaction, for example, a person could acquire a wheat allergy after working in a bakery. Food allergies often run in families, suggesting that the condition can be inherited. Food allergies can be triggered by even a small amount food and occur every time the food is consumed. 
Symptoms of a food allergy include:
  • rash or hives
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • itchy skin
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling of the airways to the lungs
  • anaphylaxis
An intolerance is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response. An intolerance occurs when something in a food irritates a person's digestive system or when a person is unable to properly digest or breakdown a food. Symptoms of a food intolerance can be similar to food allergy symptoms, but are generally less severe, which is one reason the two are so commonly confused. An intolerance is much less likely to be life-threatening than a true food allergy. People with food intolerances may not have symptoms unless they eat a large portion of the food or eat the food frequently.
Symptoms of a food intolerance include:
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • gas
  • cramps or bloating
  • vomiting
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • irritability or nervousness
Hopefully this helps show the differences between food allergies and food intolerances. Whether you have a food allergy or intolerance neither one is much fun, can cause many unwanted symptoms, and be overwhelming when you first learn you have them. But fortunately there are many great resources out there to help you along the way. Here are links to a few I have found helpful along the way.
Do you have any resources you have found helpful in your food allergy/intolerance journey?  Please feel free to share them with your fellow readers in the comments section!


  1. Great post! It is so great when people help to raise awareness!

  2. Great explanation. I never knew there was a difference.


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