There are several different types of food reactions; some have sudden onsets while others can occur more slowly and subtly.
- Food Allergies
Food allergies are an immediate reaction arising from activation of the immune system after ingestion of food(s). This is also known as IGE mediated hypersensitivity. Most common symptoms are swelling and redness of lips, skin and face, throat, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, resulting in angioedema, hives, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
The most common foods that cause these food allergies are cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, strawberries and soy. This may occur with any food at any time in one’s life.
- Food Intolerances
Food intolerances are unpleasant reactions to food typically to maldigestion of food. Many food intolerances are a result of a deficient enzyme that aids in digestion. The most common example of food intolerance is related to lactase deficiency. Lactase is an enzyme found in the villi of the small intestine, which aids in the digestion of milk sugar known as lactose.
The second most common cause is fructose intolerance – the sugar found in fruit and vegetables. The most common source of fructose, which is pervasive in the food industry, is high fructose corn syrup. This additive is used to sweeten processed foods and beverages. The most common symptoms are abdominal distention, cramping, gas, bloating and diarrhea.
- Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are a delayed hypersensitivity reaction resulting from malassimilation of food. This is a non IGE mediated immune response. The exact mechanism is unclear, however, there is evidence to suggest that it is related to the dysregulation of T-cell lymphocyte antigen processing. The food is not completely digested (macromolecules) and it is believed that it results in an antibody-antigen complex, which in turn results in a series of inflammatory reactions.
The most common symptoms are similar of both food allergy and intolerance such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Other symptoms include head and joint aches, heartburn, swallowing difficulties, constipation, fatigue, mood swings, insomnia, weight gain or loss, and fatigue. The onset of symptoms occurs between 2 hours to 72 hours, (3 days). On average, it takes 72 hours for food to be eliminated from your system. The most common foods attributed to this are cow’s milk, brewer’s and baker’s yeast, wheat, barley, eggs, potatoes, fish and shellfish.