Differences between Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

A food allergy is a medical condition in which a food triggers a harmful immune response in the body. This allergic reaction occurs because the immune system attacks proteins in the food. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can be mild like itchy mouth and hives to severe, as throat tightening, and difficulty breathing. A severe allergic reaction affecting the entire body is called anaphylaxis. It is sudden in onset and can cause death if not treated immediately.

There is no treatment for food allergy other than avoiding the food to which one is allergic. If you are highly allergic to certain foods, you need to check the labels of all commercially prepared foods and medicines.

Food intolerance is a different condition. It usually involves discomfort after eating or drinking a food such as milk. This discomfort is produced by a problem with a person's metabolism, not their immune system. The person's body does not produce an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down the sugar (lactose) found in milk and other dairy products.

The following is a list of foods which account for 90% of allergies in the United States. This list is not limited to these foods, since there are individual differences.

  1. Wheat
  2. Shellfish
  3. Egg
  4. Fish
  5. Peanuts
  6. Milk
  7. Tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans)
  8. Soy

If you have allergies or have questions consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider for any specific recommendation or treatment.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FS/FS12300.pdf  Dealing with Food Allergies
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY72300.pdf  Decoding Food Labels: Tools for People with Food Allergies
https://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats Food Allergy Research and Education