Food allergy vs food intolerance

Dr John John Lottering.

An important shift in the healthcare industry is the growing awareness of Gut health

We saw our fair share of ridiculous health and wellness fads in 2019, from Vitamin IV drips and appetite suppression lollipops to colonics and enemas.

2020 promises no such silliness, and instead of breaking our heads over unattainable goals, the goal will be shifted to self-care and a balanced lifestyle.

An important shift in the healthcare industry is the growing awareness of Gut health and the impact it can have on our day to day functioning.

An important shift in this field is the awareness of food tolerances and testing which will be the topic for this article.


This condition is mediated by a certain part of the immune system (non-IgE). Food intolerance is quite different from a food allergy, and refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods.

Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance

Food Allergy is a reaction by your immune system (your body’s defense against infection). Your immune system mistakenly treats proteins found in food as a threat can trigger allergy symptoms, such as a rash, wheezing and itching, after eating just a small amount of the food (these symptoms usually happen quickly)is often to particular foods. Common food allergies in adults include fish and shellfish and nut allergies. Common food allergies in children include milk, eggs, fish, peanuts and other nuts can be life-threatening does not involve your immune system – there is no allergic reaction, and it is never life-threatening causes symptoms that happen gradually, often a few hours after eating the problem food only results in symptoms if you eat a substantial amount of the food (unlike an allergy, where just traces can trigger a reaction)can be caused by many different foods.

Foods most commonly associated with food intolerance include diary products, grains that contain gluten, and foods that cause intestinal gas build-up, such as beans and cabbage.

It is important to note that symptoms of food intolerance takes some time to develop. Often these symptoms can be be very vague ranging from a migraine to stomach-ache.

According to the Australian NSW Food Authority, the following are the most common symptoms of food intolerance:

Bloating, Migraines, Headaches, Cough, Runny nose, Feeling under the weather, Stomach ache, Irritable bowel – Nausea, diarrhoea, heartburn, Hives, General feeling of unwell and extremely low energy.

What causes food intolerances?

Before we explore the several reasons as to why you can develop a hypersensitivity reaction to certain foods, it is important to remember that the health of our gut plays a vital role in protecting us from food intolerances.

The role of our digestive tract is to form a barrier between the outside of our gut and foods that we ingest. Food is broken down and molecules are selectively transported across the gut barrier. When this gut barrier is damaged (leaky gut syndrome), unwanted molecules escape into our bloodstream often causing an inflammatory reaction.

This adverse reaction is not necessarily because of a food intolerance to that specific food but rather because a substance has entered the bloodstream where should not have.

There are several other structural abnormalities as well as bacterial overgrowth or parasitic infections which can contribute to or aggravate food intolerance reactions to specific foods. In the absence of any of the above-mentioned issues, specific foods contain various substances which you can react to causing a food intolerance. This includes naturally occurring substances such as amine containing foods as well as substances added to foods such as additives or preservatives.

These substances include but are NOT limited to:

Amines found in cheese Caffeine found in coffee Toxins such as aflatoxins found in under cooked beans Sulphites which are used as a food preservative Amines such as histamine which naturally occurs in certain foods such as fish Salicylates which occur naturally in most plant-based foods Gluten, a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye FODMAPs a group of short chain carbohydrates found naturally in many foods. FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the small intestines and travel to the large intestines where they cause bloating and draw water into the digestive tract which causes diarrhoea and bloating.

Another cause of food intolerance can occur when our digestive tract lacks specific enzymes needed to break down food substances. Lactose intolerance is the best example of such a food intolerance. In the absence of the enzyme lactase, lactose found in dairy products cannot be broken down by our digestive tract, causing abdominal discomfort.

John John Lottering. MTech: Hon (Natal); Biopuncture; Nutrition. He is a professional who graduated from Durban University of Technology in 2001. He is an experienced homeopathic Doctor which has demonstrated a clear understanding of his patients and their needs and requirements with regards to their health.

Since the start of his practice in 2004 he uses several therapies within his scope of practice ranging from nutritional counselling, herbal medicines, homeopathy, injection therapy and several more in order to assist his patient in experiencing optimal health.

Lottering further strongly believes in understanding and finding a medical diagnosis, but instead of treating the symptoms, he takes on a functional approach to find the solution as to why a problem is presenting itself.

© 2021 HWH GLOBAL | All Rights Reserved

Dr John John Lottering.
Dr John John Lottering.

More Blogs