Differences Between Food Sensitivity and Food Intolerance

Despite all that you might hear about food allergies, they are actually surprisingly rare. More common, but less talked about, are food sensitivities and food intolerances. A food allergy involves a reaction from the immune system. Food sensitivities and food intolerances cause reactions in the body, but the immune system is not involved. The key difference between allergy and intolerance or sensitivity is that a food allergy can be life threatening. Instead, in the case of sucrose (sugar) intolerance, you might experience discomfort and painful bloating, gas and diarrhea because your body cannot digest and breakdown sucrose. Or if you have sensitivity to histamines, then you may have a reaction when you eat foods that contain histamines. Take a look at food sensitivities and food intolerances to understand the differences.

Food Sensitivity

It is common to have food sensitivity to foods you eat all the time. Food sensitivity can cause reactions that are not big enough to cause concern, but should not happen. Brain fog, breakouts, joint pain and other conditions are often related to food sensitivities. Gluten, dairy and sugar are common things to have food sensitivities to. Headaches and brain fog can be signs of withdrawal from these foods. Food cravings can also be indications of food sensitivities, but they commonly pass in a few days. Another big sign that you are experiencing food sensitivity is feeling tired or fatigued. Food should give you energy, not leave you feeling zapped because your body is working too hard to digest and eliminate them from your system. Heartburn can also be a symptom of food sensitivity. The most common symptom of food sensitivity is joint pain. Often joint pain gets ignored as just a sign of aging. But food sensitivity causes inflammation in the body, which settles in the joints. Once you stop eating the food causing the inflammation, the pain goes away within a few days. Although dairy is best known for causing intolerance, it can also cause sensitivity, which shows through skin conditions ranging from rosacea to acne.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance indicates that your body has difficulty digesting certain foods. Lactose intolerance to dairy products is the most commonly known food intolerance, but sucrose and fructose intolerance are other common food intolerances. Food intolerance causes digestive symptoms, such as gas and bloating, pain and diarrhea or constipation. In some cases, it can be caused by a lack of enzyme needed to digest certain foods, such as lactose intolerance. Most often, testing is needed to determine food intolerance to sugars. A dietary supplement can be used for those suffering lactose intolerance, but for those with sucrose or fructose intolerance a complete elimination of the foods is necessary. Other food intolerances include an intolerance to gluten, food colorings, sweeteners and other chemical additives.


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