Is it allergy or food intolerance

Symptoms of both food allergy and intolerance are similar, and it can appear that the easiest approach at managing symptoms is to restrict the offending food.


However is this sustainable in the long term? Even if it was, sometimes it is unclear which foods cause the problems, and some foods are okay sometimes, and not at other times.


The outcome is that many patients have vague and persistent symptoms and feel they need to restrict their diet further and further, which often creates personal, social and nutritional problems, not to mention persistent symptoms!

Please let me explain the differences between food allergy and intolerance and outline effective management options.


Symptoms of both food allergy and intolerance include red, itchy skin, sneezing, wheezing and respiratory mucus production, nausea, flatulence, bloating, diahorrea, fatigue and headaches, among other symptoms. In extreme cases there may be anaphylaxis.


Food allergy tends to be a clear reaction to one food immediately after consumption, or 4-6 hours later. Symptoms may last between 1-2 days.


Food intolerance or hypersensitivity reactions are much more insidious and tend to cause delayed symptoms that may last many days. Often it is not clear what food causes the problem and it is common to feel like many foods cause a reaction, and that some foods are okay sometimes and not other times.


Patients can be left feeling they need to restrict their diet further and further, often creating personal, social and nutritional problems, whilst symptoms continue to be vague and persistent.


Food intolerances are almost always linked to a deficiency in secretion of digestive juices or enzymes and general digestive function. Rather than a generalised and ongoing restriction of the diet, effective treatment involves restricting the diet short term and using herbal and food supplements to correct digestive tract inflammation, enzyme production and bacterial balance. It is possible to ascertain the most reactive foods for the person by controlled re-introduction or allergy testing.


The major allergy culprits are milk/dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, seafood, and wheat. So rather than battle with avoiding these common and nutritious foods, education and naturopathic treatment can help you to find what the problem is, and then guide you to a healthy diet and digestive tract.