Food intolerances are different from food allergies in that they have a different mechanism of action in the body. Food allergies occur from a hypersensitive immune system and can be life threatening. Food intolerances occur from an inability to properly digest a food which can create gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, headaches/migraines, heartburn, and nervousness and/or irritability.
Sometimes the symptoms of food intolerances can be similar to food allergies and difficult to distinguish. At Boulder Natural Health, we offer testing to differentiate between the two as well as testing for intestinal hyper-permeability, also known as leaky gut, a major contributor to food intolerances. We also test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) which can produce symptoms of gas, bloating and abdominal pain.
Food Intolerance Food Allergy
Symptoms occur slowly– hours to days Symptoms occur quickly – minutes
Small amounts usually okay Small amounts elicit a response
Non-lethal symptoms Can create anaphylaxis.
Gas, bloating/heartburn Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
Nausea/vomiting Difficulty breathing and swallowing, wheezing
Diarrhea/constipation Dizziness or light-headedness
Skin rashes/itchiness/redness/swelling Nervousness/heart palpitations
Headaches/dizziness Hives, itchiness, skin redness
Nervousness/irritability Nasal congestion
At Boulder Natural Health, we address food intolerances by rebuilding and healing the gastrointestinal tract to improve digestion and relieve symptoms. Initially, it is recommended that the offending foods be eliminated. Using nutrition, herbs, homeopathy and nutriceuticals, the gut can be rebuilt and digestion stimulated so in time, a varied diet does not elicit symptoms. Usually most of the offending foods can be reintroduced without symptoms. When the digestive tract is healed, individuals look and feel better and have a reduced risk of chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.
Anaphylaxis – a quick, severe, and whole-body allergic reaction after exposure to an allergen that can be lethal
Intestinal Permeability– a condition where the intestinal barrier is compromised allowing potentially harmful compounds that normally stay in the GI tract into the blood. The use of certain drugs contributes as well as microbial overgrowth, radiation, stress, alcohol intake and inflammatory bowel diseases to name a few.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth – SIBO occurs when an abnormally high number of normal intestinal flora are in the small intestine. Normally, most gut bacteria are in the large intestine. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation and abdominal pain.
photo credit: IMG_0622 and IMG_0467 from UGA College of Agriculture