Same-same but different?
Food allergy, food hypersensitivity and food intolerance.
There has been a lot of information available lately that spruiks the benefits of a gluten free diet for all sorts of health benefits. This has led to a lot of confusion as to who should be following a gluten free diet and why, so I thought it was time to write a post on debunking food allergy/hypersensitivity and intolerance.
So you have eaten a sandwich and not long after your belly resembles something along the lines of being 4 months pregnant. Or perhaps you have just finished sharing a cheese board and dried fruit and find yourself dashing to the bathroom?
At this point, more often than not, poor old gluten gets blamed for all the ensuing symptoms when in fact there are any number of constituents in the foods you have just eaten which can trigger these and many other symptoms. Let’s talk about the immune system.
The Immune System
The immune system is a defence mechanism to fighting infection from bacteria, viruses and other microbes. There are specialised cells, made in the bone marrow (soft centre of our bones) that move amongst our blood and tissues like little soldiers fighting invasion from infective sources (for more information on the immune system click here).
When you consume food that triggers symptoms for you there are one of two things it can be attributed to, either an immunological reaction or a non-immunological reaction.
What Are Immunological Reactions?
These are reactions to a protein in the food and involve a call to arms of the immune systems specialised cells. Immunological reactions are food allergies or food hypersensitivity and are quite uncommon, occurring in approximately 1 in 50 people. The reactions are always reproducible i.e. they occur every time you eat the food.
Immunological reaction = reaction to protein – food allergy or food hypersensitivity – rare.
What Are Non-Immunological Reactions?
These are reactions that do not involve the immune system and are called food intolerances. Non-immunological reactions or food intolerances vary depending on the amount of triggering food or substance consumed, timing of the meal, other meals consumed that day and other non-food related triggers such as stress and physical activity. Food intolerances are quite common and affect approximately 1 in 5 people.
Non-immunological reaction= food intolerance -food substance or chemical trigger – do not involve the immune system- very common.
Stay tuned for the next post to find out where coeliac disease, gluten free diets and IBS sit amongst food allergy, hypersensitivity and intolerance and why you might feel bloated and uncomfortable after meals.
Yours in good health, E