Food Allergies vs. Intolerances

Food allergies are very specific inflammatory pathways: Immune globulin A, G, or E.

  • Immune globulin A is concentrated in mucous membrane tissues in the gut. IgA allergies affect primarily the digestive tract.
  • Immune globulin E is concentrated in the respiratory tract and the skin; hence, IgE reactions tend to cause bronchial constriction (asthma) and hives.
  • Immune globulin G causes delayed reactions, anywhere from 4 hours to four DAYS after eating the food.

I think of all of the inflammatory pathways in the body being like rivers flowing down to the sea. Each river is a different inflammatory pathway. The sea is the “final common inflammatory pathway,” the place where all of those rivers meet.

Food intolerances are “inflammatory rivers” other than the specific immune globulin “rivers” or pathways. Foods can trigger a variety of reactions besides just the immune globulin pathways.

What does that mean for your health?

You may test negative for food allergies but still be reactive to other foods.

In one study, patients tested for food intolerances via the ALCAT test (a food sensitivity test) had more improvement than those following a diet based on food allergies tested by  the RAST method alone.

A simple way of saying this is the food intolerance tests “cast a broader net.” They are looking more broadly at how the digestive tract responds to foods.

“Food Intolerances in Patients with Angioedema and Chronic Urticaria: An investigation by ALCAT and RAST Test.” Paper presented at XVI European Congress of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, Madrid Spain, June 25 – 30, 1995.

For more information about the constitutional food intolerance/OG Carroll test, click here.

For information about ALCAT testing, click here.

Dr. Judith Boice, ND, LAc, FABNO, is a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology, and a single mother of twin boys.


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