Food Allergy versus Food Intolerance versus Food Sensitivity has been highlighted in recent research due to the growing misunderstanding between the two terms. Many believe that negative reactions to specific foods are automatically a food allergy; however, this is not always the case.
Let me explain!
Food Intolerance: The inability to process or digest certain foods. The most common food reaction appears to be lactose intolerance. Symptoms can include nausea, stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, headaches, skin rashes, anxiety, and irritability 1,2.
Food Allergy: An overblown response by the body’s immune system against a seemingly harmless substance — in this case, a food. Typical reactions are severe, such as anaphylaxis1.
Food Sensitivity: Similar to intolerances, but it’s often nuclear why someone reacts poorly to a certain food. Food sensitivities may result in a more delayed reaction, and you might be able to digest a small amount of the food without any issues.
When a person suspects a potential allergy, they are usually referred to an Allergist to do blood work or more common the “Skin Prick Test”. A Skin Prick Test makes a small puncture with up to 50 different substances to test for a histamine reaction. If your body reacts with a raised itchy red and white bump known as a wheal, this indicates a positive allergy reaction. However, 50-60 percent of skin prick tests deliver “false positive results” and sometimes you may test negative for an allergy even though you do have a true allergy3. Blood tests and Skin Prick Testing do NOT test for food and chemical intolerances.
Here is where Food Sensitivity Testing using Mediated Release Test (MRT) comes in. MRT is a great way to identify potential trigger foods that cause an immune response. This test assesses 170 foods and chemicals and measures the release of chemical mediators from white blood cells and platelets in response to certain foods, additives and chemicals. MRT testing has a 94.5% sensitivity and a 91.7% specificity rating, meaning it can accurately predict food and chemical sensitivities4.