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Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergies

Do you know the difference?

Quite often, the concepts ‘food intolerance’ and ‘food allergies’ are misunderstood. The difference is that allergies have very severe symptoms that require immediate treatment, whereas food intolerances do not cause any immediate symptoms. Basically, intolerances are a result of the hypersensitivity of the body against certain foods, and the most frequent reactions of the human body are bloating, irritable bowel symptoms, headaches, migraines, fatigue, bad mood, etc.

Apart from differences in symptomatology, allergies and intolerances activate the immune system differently. In the case of an allergy, the body produces IgE antibodies against a specific component of the food, while in the case of food hypersensitivity or intolerance, the immune system produces IgG antibodies, which are associated with mild symptoms caused by exposure of the body to specific foods. The symptoms of the body's response may not be immediate, but may occur gradually, which is why it is so difficult to detect food intolerances. The intolerance to foods may be associated with the reduced production or lack of an enzyme. For example, one of the most widespread intolerances - particularly in the Mediterranean - is that of lactose: a sugar found mainly in milk. In this case, the body lacks the enzyme that breaks down lactose and is unable to digest milk well. The result is the development of annoying symptoms such as abdominal pains, bloating or even diarrhea. Limiting the intake of milk is recommended in such cases, and now there are functional foods, such as lactose-free dairy that can replace conventional dairy products.

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