What are Non Allergic Food Reactions?
It is estimated that people eat 2-3 tons of food in a lifetime. With so much food exposure, it is not surprising that
food reactions commonly occur - but not all of these are truly food allergies. Polls demonstrate that about 20-25%
of people believe that they have a food allergy. In reality, food allergies only affect 6-8% of children and 2% of
adults. So what is going on the rest of the time?
It turns out that the majority of food reactions are due to food intolerance or food poisoning.
Food intolerance is defined in Stedman’s Medical Dictionary (27th Edition) as “impaired utilization or disposal of
dietary constituents”. This means that there is a problem with the digestion of the food or how it is used by the
body. Some reactions are due to problems digesting the food, such as lactose intolerance or fructose intolerance.
Some reactions can result from chemicals such as sulfites, tyramine, or histamine found in the food. Other reactions
can developed due to food poisoning, from bacteria growing on food that is not properly stored or cooked. The
main difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy is that a food allergy results from the production of
certain antibodies called IgE by the immune system. Some types of food intolerance reactions can also happen from
the body’s immune system reacting to certain proteins in foods (such as gluten in celiac disease) – but for these
reactions, the allergy antibody IgE is not involved.