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Have you ever felt “off” after eating a meal? Maybe you’ve experienced an upset stomach, acid reflux, heartburn or some less-than-pleasant symptoms that send you rushing to the restroom. It might be time to figure out if you are sensitive or even intolerant to certain types of foods.

There are three types of health issues associated with food — food allergies, food sensitivity and food intolerance. It is important to know the differences.

Food Allergies

Food allergy symptoms are immediate and can range from minor to life-threatening. A food allergy is an immune response to a specific food, which triggers a histamine reaction with potentially severe symptoms like anaphylaxis or hives. People who suffer from common food allergies typically know about their allergens based on the extreme reactions and immediate response times.

While most food allergies start in childhood, many adults develop an allergy to a food they’ve eaten before with no issues.

The most common food allergies in adults are peanuts, fish, shellfish (shrimp or lobster) and tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews).

People with extreme food allergies require an EpiPen — which contains epinephrine. This injection is given at the first sign of symptoms so the medication can shut down the body’s allergic response.

Food Intolerance

Sometimes confused with a food allergy is food intolerance. The difference is food allergies involve the immune system, while food intolerance involves the digestive system. A food intolerance reaction can occur if you don’t have enough of the specific enzymes needed to break down a food. This can lead to symptoms such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

It is estimated that up to 20 percent of the world’s population may have a food intolerance. While there are many foods people can have an intolerance to, here are eight foods that are the most common causes of digestive issues.

Dairy – Lactose intolerance is extremely common. People with this condition have a shortage of lactase enzymes, which causes an inability to digest lactose and results in digestive discomfort.

Gluten – People with an intolerance to gluten have trouble digesting a protein found in several grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. It is known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This is different from celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease related to gluten or a wheat allergy. People can also have a sensitivity to gluten. Testing is the only way to figure out which of the three types is bothering you.

Caffeine – This stimulant is found in a wide variety of beverages, including coffee, soda, tea and energy drinks. Most people can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine a day without any side effects. However, people with a caffeine intolerance can experience extreme reactions, such as rapid heartbeat and anxiety, after consuming even the smallest amount.

Salicylates – These are natural chemicals found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, teas, coffee, spices, nuts and honey. However, some people are extremely sensitive to these compounds and develop adverse reactions when they consume even small amounts. Reactions can trigger hives and even asthma attacks.

Amines – These are produced by bacteria during food storage and fermentation and found in a wide variety of foods. The most common type of amine associated with food intolerance is histamine. It will build up in the bodies of people who can’t metabolize it properly, causing many symptoms, including stomach cramps and possibly low blood pressure. People with a histamine intolerance should avoid foods high in this natural chemical, such as fermented foods, avocados and citrus.

FODMAPs – An acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols — FODMAP intolerances are common in people who eventually get diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a.k.a. IBS. FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates found naturally in many foods that can cause digestive distress. Apples, soft cheeses, milk and beer are examples of foods high in FODMAPs.

Sulfites – These are chemicals usually used as a preservative. They are added to foods and beverages to prevent spoilage caused by bacteria. Because a sulfite intolerance is very common in people with asthma, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that the use of sulfites must be declared on the label of any food that contains sulfites or where sulfites were used during the processing of food.

Fructose – This is a simple sugar found in fruits and vegetables, as well as sweeteners like honey, agave and high-fructose corn syrup. In people with fructose intolerance, fructose isn’t efficiently absorbed into the blood and causes digestive distress.

Food Sensitivity

The terms food sensitivity and food intolerance are often used interchangeably. However, there is a slight distinction between the two.

Food sensitivities involve the immune system, while food intolerances involve the digestive system. And unlike with food allergies, which trigger IgG antibodies, food sensitivities involve immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Also, food sensitivities can cause reactions hours or days later.

Specific foods may create an immune reaction that generates a multitude of symptoms. The symptoms are not life-threatening, but they can be quite disruptive and include joint pain, stomach pain, fatigue, rashes and brain fog.

Get Tested

If you are struggling to identify which foods are a problem for you, an easy solution is to get tested.

Any Lab Test Now offers a variety of tests to help you determine whether you have a food allergy, food sensitivity or food intolerance.

The Food Sensitivity and Intolerance Panel is a simple blood test that measures the body’s cellular reactivity to the foods in the 100 Food Panel.

Any Lab Test Now also offers the Comprehensive Combination Allergy Panel IgE tests to uncover food allergies.

Be at Ease

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including finding out what foods may be affecting your digestive health.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 185+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.