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Intolerance or Allergy?

Many people often get mixed up between Food Allergies and Food Intolerance. So I thought what a great topic to blog about and clarify what each one means exactly. Allergic reactions are very common nowadays, with many more of us experiencing allergies than people did thirty years ago. This may well be down to the increased use of pesticides, the increase in environmental pollution and the rise of chemicals we use and tend to be exposed to in our every day lives.

The rise in all the above causes our liver to become overloaded, with the knock on effect of causing more allergic reactions.

In Britain the most common food allergens are wheat, gluten, dairy, citrus fruit and eggs.

A Gluten allergy can be caused by wheat, oats, rye and barley. Those with Coeliac disease are unable to tolerate any of these grains.

So what is the difference between a Food Allergy and Food Intolerance?

Their effects are similar but their causes are different. A food Allergy is an immediate reaction to any stimulus, causing the immune system to produce antibodies to attack the offending molecule. An intolerance is a delayed reaction that causes a wide variety of symptoms, which often seem unrelated.

Many symptoms are not obviously connected to food intolerance, symptoms such as:

  • depression
  • joint pain
  • swollen eyes
  • brain fog
  • constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • runny nose
  • bags or shadows under eyes
  • indigestion
  • skin rashes
  • mouth ulcers
  • sallow dry skin
  • breathing difficulties

The following is a guide for you to check if you have an allergy or intolerance:


The reaction time is immediate.

The causes:  histamine and antibodies.

The symptoms include: hives, blushing, swelling, rash, palpitations and sudden tiredness


The reaction time is delayed

The causes: antibodies

The symptoms include: itching, fatigue, water retention, dark circles under the eyes, headaches, migraines, raised pulse, muscle soreness.

On another note Anaphylactic Shock for some people can occur when a single food could prove life threatening, that is when they are allergic to a specific food, the reaction is not noticed immediately and treated correctly. This reaction occurs within minutes of consuming the food. The symptoms include inability to breathe, anxiety, panic attack, acute swelling of the neck or face, closing up of the throat and nasal passages. Peanuts are well known for this exact reason hence why they are listed as warnings on food labels along with other nuts.

Food Diaries are a great way to keep track of food and liquids which you consume daily, this can give you a very clear idea of any reactions which you may experience after consumption along with any emotional reactions. Many of  my clients who use the Food Diaries discover trigger foods that set of reactions within their systems.

I hope this Blog has helped you to bring more light on the differences between of Food Intolerance and Food Allergies.

Ruth @ The Cleansing Space

CategoryLearning, Nutrition

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