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Food Intolerance And Food Allergy: How Do They Differ?

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Cybele Pascal recalls the differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance.

Cybele Pascal:
There’s a lot of confusion about whether or not you have a food allergy or a food intolerance and a lot of people who have a food intolerance call it a food allergy, but they are actually two separate things and they need to be treated in two separate ways. Well they needed to be treated in the same way and that you need to avoid the food that you are reacting to, but a food allergy is an immune system response to the food that you are eating. So, you ingest it, your body thinks of it as poison, as toxic, as a foreign invader and your body or immune system creates a response to that by releasing histamine and a whole other cascade of chemicals to fight off what it considers to be an invader. It’s an immune system response.

A food intolerance is when you lack the ability to properly digest the food. So you don’t have the enzymes in your stomach, for example with lactose, right? You have a lactose intolerance. Versus a dairy allergy, a lactose intolerance means that you are unable to break down the lactose sugar in dairy, or a wheat intolerance – same thing, cannot process it, lack the ability. If you have a wheat allergy, which I actually have a wheat allergy and my son has a wheat allergy and my husband has a wheat intolerance – these are separate things, I mean who knew, right?

I get hives from it. It affects me. My immune system reacts when I eat it. My husband gets gassy and bloated, right? So those are different, so we both avoid. Same solution but a different physical reaction and the reason I think it’s important to talk about this is food intolerances don’t threaten your life in the same way. A food allergy is something that could potentially really threaten your life. So there’s a difference in severity.

About Cybele Pascal:
Cybele Pascal is an award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and "The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook". When her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies in 2001, Cybele learned about allergen-free cooking and made it a priority to transform this cuisine into a delicacy. In addition to recipes she learned to prepare from her family, she spent fifteen years working in restaurants.

Visit Cybele Pascal at her website

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