Nutritional allergy and food intolerance

In case of a food allergy or intolerance, you get physical complaints after eating a certain food, while another does not get sick of it. An allergy or intolerance to nutrition manifests itself in many different ways. From skin complaints to stuffiness, abdominal pain or a lack of energy. In this dossier by you can read what a difference is between an allergy and an intolerance.

Every person has an immune system, the system that comes into action when your body is ‘attacked’ by a bacterium or virus. Your body makes antibodies against the intruder.

In a food allergy, your immune system makes antibodies against parts of the diet – actually innocent substances but not according to your body. You also see these antibodies back in the blood. In the event of a food allergy, the reaction immediately occurs. Your tongue will become fat or you will become stuffy.

In case of an intolerance, the intestines react to certain foods, for example you have a feeling or diarrhea. However, there is no question of antibodies. With an intolerance, it takes longer that you respond to nutrition.

Food allergies and food hypersensitivity are often confused. That is not strange, because the symptoms are very similar. In case of an intolerance, the immune system is not involved and the reaction proceeds via a different route.

Food allergy

You can be allergic to foods that contain proteins. A lot of plant and animal nutrition contains proteins (allergens). Proteins are in grains (the gluten), crustaceans, eggs, peanuts, soy, milk and celery.

An allergy is built up. Sometimes people can eat certain foods for years without problems and then ‘suddenly’ are allergic to them. The immune system has then, after (much) contact, developed the ability to react with an allergy.

Food intolerance

In the case of a food intolerance, the intestines respond to certain foods. They are literally ‘intolerant’; for example, because they lack a certain enzyme and therefore do not tolerate or absorb food. For this reason, a food intolerance can have different physical consequences.

An intolerance is often less direct; it is often only determined when you experience vague complaints for a long time. The best-known forms are lactose and gluten intolerance, but other forms also exist, such as fructose intolerance (fruit sugar), histamine intolerance, intolerance to additives and egg intolerance.

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