Food allergy just sensitivity? This discrepancy is more common than you realize. Many individuals are sensitive to certain foods and avoid them completely rather than realizing they can enjoy these foods in moderation.
A true food allergy happens when you have an anaphylactic reaction and need to be taken to the hospital since you are in danger of dying. Initial reactions could be extreme itching or trouble breathing. If you have true food allergies it is smart to carry an epi pen with you for emergencies.
Food sensitivities or intolerances occur when someone only partially digests a certain food. Symptoms are very broad and can include fatigue, heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
What are some common food sensitivities/intolerances and how can you get around them?
- Milk and Milk products – many individuals are sensitive to lactose, the sugar present in milk. Their systems lack the enzyme lactase necessary to digest the lactose. Hard cheeses can be easily tolerated since they are 90% free of lactose. Yogurts are also quite low in lactose and are usually tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. For those who want to enjoy milk they can use Lactaid or the Lactaid equivalent pills or drops to put in their milk to digest the lactose. These products work well for most people and allow them to enjoy dairy if they desire
- Wheat and Wheat product - you commonly hear in Los Angeles “I’m gluten-free.” There is an endless amount of “gluten-free” products available and many individuals think they are allergic to gluten. Those with a true gluten allergy have Celiac disease which is genetically inherited. If someone with Celiac disease consumes gluten it causes the villi or little hair-like projections that move food through the gut to atrophy. Only 1 percent of the population has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. However, research shows that another 39% of the population may be susceptible to having Celiac or gluten intolerance. To get an accurate diagnosis one needs a blood test and/or small bowel biopsy to determine if there is atrophy in the gut.
- Vegetables - many people interpret gas formed when eating vegetables a food allergy. These individuals may be sensitive to fiber or the enzymes present in these foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc. Eating small amounts of these foods are usually well tolerated till your system becomes used to them.
If you feel like you have a true food allergy it may be worth a trip to an allergist who can perform tests. If you have food sensitivities, you may be able to handle various foods you are sensitive to in small quantities, allowing enjoyment of more foods than you realized.