Are food sensitivity and food allergy the same?
If you are wondering what the difference between being allergic to food vs. being sensitive or intolerant to a food is, then the answer is the location in your body where the response is happening. With food allergies, your immune system is responding, while in food sensitivity/intolerance, your digestive system is reacting. Also, your symptoms are very different. The symptoms of food intolerance are mainly gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and nausea, while the symptoms of food allergies include swelling, itching, hives, anaphylaxis, and dizziness. Food sensitivity and food allergy tests can easily be tested at your home.
Our immune system is the body’s defense system against intruders like bacteria, viruses, and fungus. You might have a food allergy when your immune system identifies a protein (allergen) in the food you eat as an invader and fight it by producing Immunoglobulins type E (IgE). If you have an allergy, it means your immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing IgE antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. This reaction usually causes symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, or skin. Each type of IgE is specific for each type of allergen and recognizes only that allergen as the invaders. That is why some people are allergic to nuts while others are allergic to shellfish and seafood. Eight foods are found to be responsible for 90 percent of allergic reactions, those being peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, and shellfish. To check if you are allergic to a certain allergen, you can take at home IgE self testing. People who have food allergies must avoid these foods as the potential effects of an allergic reaction can be life-threatening. If you are allergic to food, stings, drugs, other substances, or materials, it is important to keep medication like an EpiPen with you. Epinephrine, the active medication in EpiPen, acts quickly to improve breathing, stimulate the heart, raise dropping blood pressure, reverse hives, and reduce swelling of the face, lips, and throat.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, are not severe but cause unpleasant reactions in your digestive system. Certain foods can trigger an intolerance in your digestive tract. This is where your body can’t properly break it down, or your body reacts to a food you’re sensitive to. Food intolerance testing at home can help you to identify what type of food you’re sensitive to. The main causes for food intolerance include lack of an enzyme that is needed to fully digest a food - Lactose intolerance is a common example. Immunoglobulins type G (IgG) can cause food intolerance by increased gut permeability, which permits food substances to gain access to the circulation and trigger food-specific IgG production—like getting a constant booster shot. A food-mediated IgG test would tell you what food would be better to eat less frequently or at a lower amount.
Celiac disease is NOT a food sensitivity but a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) leads their immune system to attack and damage their small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine that promotes nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. Currently, there is no test for gluten sensitivity, but home testing genetic risk tests for celiac disease are available. Also, several at home antigen tests for celiac disease diagnosis can be purchased online.