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What's The Difference?
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8 posts in this topic

So my question is, what is the difference between:

Food allergies

Food sensitivities

Food intolerances

And how are you diagnosed with each of those, and how can you diagnose yourself with them?

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From what I've read, the main difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, is in the way the body reacts. Here is one explanation: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/foods-allergy-intolerance

Personally, I'm not sure I'd agree with the "standard model" when it comes to Celiac Disease.

I haven't looked it up, but I'd think a food sensitivity would encompass both allergy and intolerance. Like a less specific term. More like a generalization. Sorta like the way "bread" can mean whole grain, white, sweetbread, flat bread, etc. That's just a guess on my part.

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I went through actual allergy testing with an allergist to find out what/if anything I was allergic too. She did two series of tests which didn't produce anything. Then we did a deeper series of testing called the patch test, where the allergen is left on your body for a few days and I reacted to that. Allergic to wheat and milk.

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Well, the biology is intricate, but to make a long story short, an allergy is a specific type of immune reaction. Your body perceives something as an invader, and the immune system generates an immune response with a specific immune globulin, Immune Globulin E (IgE). This causes activity in the cells that stimulates the release of histamines (contained in "mast cells") which in turn cause the swelling/redness/itching reactions you might be familiar with (or the worst case example, the anaphylactic response).

An intolerance or sensitivity does not cause this reaction in your body, though it might still contribute to discomforts and reactions of other kinds.

Celiac is an intolerance in its own class; though it causes an immune response, it is in response to a particular protein (gluten) because of a genetic disability in digesting that protein. Another well-known example would be lactose intolerance, in which the body cannot digest the lactose due to lack of an enzyme. There may be explanations for other intolerances or sensitivities, but these are the two best known and serve as good examples.

I'm not dragging in a lot of facts from science articles, just giving my cursory understanding of them.

Does that help a little?

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So my question is, what is the difference between:

Food allergies

Food sensitivities

Food intolerances

And how are you diagnosed with each of those, and how can you diagnose yourself with them?

This might help a bit.http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/13

Its aimed toward explaining NCGI but it covers some of what you're asking. And it's very informative.

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Thank you all for your responses! That was very helpful! I've had allergy testing of the skin. Wasn't allergic to any food except fruits. Waiting back for my blood test on the 96 foods. Is there a blood test for intolerances/sensitivities? I don't have any actual allergic reactions to anything( except fruit) so since they are doing this 96 food allergy test, does allergy have a different meaning or is it actually testing intolerances?

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The 96 food test is usually not an allergy test in most cases. It's for intolerances and not even really good at that. Depending on what lab is doing it, there is no good research that it has any level of accuracy.

Patch testing would be for more intolerances as well.

I assume it is a naturopath or chiro doing this testing?

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Yes it is a naturopath who suggested it. Well, hopefully I can get some answers from it even if all the results aren't accurate. I'll find out on Friday what the results are.

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