Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

Regular intake of food is required to live. It’s closely tied to culture, celebrations, emotions, and traditions. How you intake your food is a personal choice too. Consequently, whether you follow a fasting schedule, a strict structured diet, or eat seasonally, what and how we eat has an impact on our lives. food intolerance

Unfortunately, food sensitivities and allergies are on the rise around the world at an alarming rate. An estimated 20% of Americans struggle with a food allergy or intolerance. But what’s the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?  

Food Allergy 

To begin, a true food allergy involves an immune response creating an allergic reaction. In fact, this causes a systemic response that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include breathing problems, a tightening or closing of the throat, hives, or a drop in blood pressure. About 2 – 5% of the population have to strictly monitor their foods and have to prepare to mitigate an anaphylactic reaction with an EpiPen or some other fast-acting intervention. Approximately 90% of food allergies are caused by what’s called “The Big 8,” which includes milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, and soy.  Allergy panel

Food Intolerance 

Next, let’s discuss food intolerance. Food intolerance means the body is not able to properly digest the food, or that some foods may irritate the GI system. Symptoms commonly include diarrhea, nausea, gas, cramps, irritability, or headaches. Shockingly, about 15 – 20% of Americans deal with the symptoms of food intolerance. Furthermore, symptom severity varies greatly from person to person.  lactose intolerant

Most commonly, the body is lacking an enzyme to effectively break the food down. In the case of lactose intolerance, the body is lacking adequate lactase enzymes to break the lactose down. Other common food intolerances include gluten, histamine (from fermented foods), sulfites, food coloring, and caffeine. 

Celiac Disease 

Interestingly, people dealing with celiac disease daily don’t fit neatly into the food allergy or intolerance category. Celiac is an autoimmune disease. Particularly, this means when consuming gluten, the body builds an attack against the small intestine, where absorption takes place. Obviously, this is extremely detrimental and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially iron, which can lead to anemia. Additionally, long-term health conditions can include gallbladder malfunction, central and peripheral nervous system disorders, and even diabetes.  

The Good News 

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Flourish living probiotics are intentionally produced free of all the major allergens and test negative for histamines. Certainly, at Entegro Health, we are proud to make a high-quality probiotic for supporting gut health accessible to most people. 


The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 


Written by Lorilyn VanDyke 


Zopf, Y., Baenkler, H. W., Silbermann, A., Hahn, E. G., & Raithel, M. (2009). The differential diagnosis of food intolerance. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 106(21), 359–370.