Return to site

The Difference Between Food Allergy, Food Sensitivity, & Food Intolerance

Tanya Humphrey BS, NDTR, CLT

· Nutrition Blog,2021,Food Sensitivities

Food Allergy

Food allergy is caused when the immune system responds to certain foods thinking they are harmful substances. Food Allergies are immune responses that are life threatening (IgE reactions). Symptoms of food allergy can include one or more of the following: difficult breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling of throat or tongue, trouble swallowing, dizziness, weak pulse, drop in blood pressure, shock, anaphylaxis, and other life-threatening responses.

Food Sensitivity

Food Sensitivity involves the immune system, but they are reactions that are not life threatening. They are non-allergic (non-IgE) reactions that cause an inflammatory response. They involve many immune pathways. When you eat a food that your body views as foreign, it causes an inflammatory response that triggers your white blood cells. Various mechanisms in the body trigger reactions in your white blood cells releasing mediators such as leukotrienes, cytokines, and many other types. The release of mediators and cellular activity can result in inflammatory effects which manifest as symptoms. Some pathophysiologic effects are edema, tissue damage, increased gut permeability, and more. Food sensitivities can cause many symptoms and can be dependent upon how much of the reactive food was eaten. Symptoms can vary between individuals and could include one or more of the following: migraine, depression, GERD, asthma, IBS, cyclic vomiting syndrome, atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions are possible. Food sensitivities could lead to food allergy if ignored. Food and food chemical sensitivities remain one of the most under addressed areas of conventional medicine.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance is when someone has difficulty digesting food as it involves the digestive system and not the immune system. However, to be more specific food intolerance can result from a lack of the body producing certain enzymes. There are many types of digestive enzymes in our body such as lipase, amylase, pepsin, maltase, and others. For example, when a person becomes lactose intolerant, the body will not make lactase. Lactase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose a sugar which is found in milk and other dairy products. Therefore, someone who is lactose intolerant may have symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach pain, or other symptoms because of the inability to digest and break down lactose. Food intolerance is not life threatening. Symptoms of food intolerance can be similar to symptoms of food sensitivity.

Need Help?

If you are suffering from symptoms that persist even after repeated attempts to remedy the health issue, then give me a try at “The Fruiting Vine LLC.” Food Sensitivities are a common cause of many chronic conditions in many cases, dietary triggers such as foods and food chemicals provoke symptoms. Numerous peer-reviewed controlled studies confirm this fact. Yet for many physicians, diet remains one of the most overlooked and disregarded areas of treatment. A dietary problem requires a dietary solution. We offer the Mediator Release Test (MRT) which tests 170 food and food chemicals. The MRT test is more complete and exact than other tests for food sensitivity. MRT tests all the pathways for food sensitivity rather than just some of them. I then create a personalize meal plan for you which includes recipes, a shopping list, and guidance throughout the whole process. I am not only registered as a Nutrition & Dietetic Technician with the Commission of Dietetics (CDR), but I am also a Certified LEAP therapist (lifestyle eating and performance) with Oxford Biomedical Technologies. I can help you! Many food-sensitive patients quickly overcome bothersome symptoms once their sensitivity is identified. Visit my website for more information at