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Food allergy vs food intolerance

Updated on September 8, 2014

Food allergies vs Food intolerances

This is a brief article on some of the differences of food allergies vs food intolerances. Depending on genetics and even epi-genetics people can be sensitive to many foods to varying degrees. Also it isn't as simple as commonly thought to get tested or to treat it as well.

There is a lot of widespread ignorance and misinformation in regards to food allergies and intolerances. Some may think it easier to treat then it actually is by using bloodtests to test for it and allergy shots to treat it. It is a lot more complex then people think. It takes a competent and knowledgeable doctor or health practitioner to diagnose and treat food allergies and their symptoms. There are some steps to take to find out what you are reactive to and start treating them though. Intolerances and allergies can be overcome eventually but it is a gradual long process. Food allergies are typically more severe then food intolerances although they can both be detrimental to your health. Food intolerances are much more common then food allergies as well.

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Common food allergies

list of common food allergies

While there are many foods that one can be allergic or intolerant too there are about 8 that are most common. The most common foods people are allergic or intolerant to are: wheat/gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish and shellfish.

From my own experience most people would be better off limiting or completely getting rid of gluten and soy, even to those that show no problems, they may be subtle or not readily apparent. Certain food allergies or intolerances, such as dairy and depending on severity may be overcome or dealt with by certain supplemental enzymes, but would require a time of cutting out that food entirely.

There are those with sensitive digestive systems and bodies that may require going on a GAPs (gut and psychology syndrome) or FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) diet. Dairy intolerance can be overcome if not too severe but would require removing from your diet for at least a few months.

Taking lactose digestive enzymes, probiotics, fermented and cultured dairy may be doable after taking a break from dairy for at least a few months. Other food allergies and intolerances I would not recommend trying to fix, and with dairy, I would suggest the help of a health practitioner to help as well.

A paleo diet is a natural and best way in my personal opinion to avoid all the common food allergies without taking much effort.

How to test for food allergies

Despite common opinion and medical literature I find blood tests for food allergies and intolerances unreliable. They can be a good indicator if you have an idea of what you are intolerant or allergic but the results from one person can vary a lot from test to test. I have even heard of people sending in two blood samples from the same person for a food intolerance/allergy test and getting completely different results. I would strongly recommend getting retested if you are only tested once for food allergies and intolerances.

The best way to test for food allergies is using a food rotation diet, by cutting out foods you may have a problem with then adding them back in. Obviously I would recommend cutting out gluten, soy and peanuts (as well as legumes in generaly), and if you choose to do dairy, have it be fermented, cultured or raw. Also it may be worthwhile to eliminate high fodmaps foods and adhere to a GAPs diet, at least for the introduction diet.

Implementing a low FODMAPs diet can be done with relative ease as there are many low fodmaps foods that are compliant with a GAPs or paleo diet. Fixing digestion may make it possible to enjoy more foods as well. There are health conditions which may require lower protein as well such as those intolerant to ammonia or sulfur as a result of MTHFR *methylene tetrahydrafolate reductase) mutations and related mutations. I will cover MTHFR and related mutations in another article but it is a common problem for those transitioning to a paleo diet.

A paleo template is highly recommended for those with digestive and/or skin issues as it eliminates a lot of problematic foods and food groups. Finding what works for each individual takes time and patience though and a knowledgeable paleo compliant health practitioner may help out a lot. It's worthwhile to know how to test for food allergies but also how to treat them and overcome them. It is much more common for people to have food intolerances, and the majority of people afflicted with them don't treat them as they should.

The best way to test for food allergies is by self experimentation to find out what works and doesn't work for you. Even well known experts and renown experts don't know how to test for food allergies and often depend on highly variable blood tests.

How to treat food intolerance and allergies

Treating food allergies and intolerances can be a lengthy process to deal with them completely. If you are allergic to a food then the obvious solution would be to cut it out of the diet. For food intolerance it can be much more difficult to do. Going on the gaps diet would be a good start. Then over time you can add in foods to see if they give you any reaction.Dairy intolerance can be overcome but it will take time away from eating it (at least a few weeks if not a month), repairing your digestive system and easing into with raw and cultured dairy products The gaps diet can be strict though. The GAPs diet is primarily protein with vegetables at first, then adding in fruit, dairy over time. I would recommend at first limiting FODMAPs foods and those of the nightshade family (such as onions).

I prefer the GAPs diet over the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), as I think it it does more to heal your digestive system but also establish foods you can and cannot eat. Digestion should be optimized as well so if you suspect low stomach acid, bacterial overgrowth or candida overgrowth its vital to get that fixed. Colostrum with probiotics and candida help, can help your digestion a lot. Removing harmful bacteria with antibiotics may be a step you have to take.

Bone broth can be easily made and used to heal your digestive system. All you need for bone broth is chicken/beef bones, vinegar, water, salt, pepper and garlic. Bone broth can heal your digestive system and also help out your adrenals as well.

Recommended food allergy and food intolerance books

These are books I personally have read or would recommend to buy on the subject of food intolerances and food allergies. Skin problems are often a big problem with those with food intolerances and can be tricky to treat.

Naturogenix - Natural Supplements and therapies

Natural supplements and therapies for those dealing with chronic conditions such as mthfr, methylation, detoxification defects, chronic fatigue syndrome, metabolic syndrome, thyroid issues.

Books to help with food intolerances and allergies

I am only going to recommend one book here and its Chris Kresser's book which is coming out in decemeber. Chris Kresser has an amazing website at and I would highly suggest checking the book out.

Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life
Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life

This is the paleo book I am most looking forward to. Check out more at he has an amazing podcast and uses an open minded "paleo template" approach as well as functional medicine to help with many complex health problems.


Food allergies and intolerances

Information on food intolerances and allergies

information on food allergies and intolerances

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      yurisz 4 years ago

      Great lens thank you.

      I agree that blood test results can vary. Nonetheless any level of intolerance is worth knowing about and the suspect food eliminated from your diet or at least rotated as suggested.

      You can save some money by bypassing your Dr and using a service like