Allergy

An allergy is triggered by the immune system’s response to a particular food. Specific antibodies found in the body react against the allergens found in some food. The immune system can release histamine or other chemicals in the body. It can be serious, or in rare cases even fatal.

Allergy symptoms include: rashes, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, sinus troubles, hives, throat constriction, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness.

Any of these symptoms can arise minutes after consuming or coming into contact with the specific food. However, in some it can take hours before any reaction occurs.

The professional opinion of a doctor or nurse should be sought if you believe you suffer from a food allergy.
Common food groups causing reactions are: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, and sesame.

Intolerance

It is not always clear what causes one to be intolerant to a given food. It can be linked to a condition of the bowel, an absent enzyme, an improper diet, digestive issues, unnatural or natural chemicals, or additives found in our foods. It is generally not fatal or harmful to one’s heath to have an intolerance (with the exception of conditions like Celiacs disease), but it can make life challenging for those dealing with the symptoms.

Intolerance symptoms include: abdominal pains and discomfort, body aches and pains, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, eczema, fatigue, fluid retention, headaches, lethargy, migraine, nausea, rashes, restless leg syndrome, sinus troubles, skin problems, stomach cramps, tension, weight loss/weight gain, wheezing,or vomiting.

Any of these symptoms can arise minutes after consuming the specific food. Generally though, the reaction is much slower than that of an allergy, taking hours or sometimes even days. Often the symptoms themselves can linger for some time.

Some people lack the proper enzymes needed to break foods down, as with lactose intolerance where the enzyme lactase is not produced to break down the lactose (milk sugars) in milk. Others react to the natural chemicals produced in certain foods like caffeine, salicylates, and histamine.  Another cause of food intolerance is brought about by additives in foods. Additives are used to prolong the shelf life or to enhance the flavour or appearance of a product.