What is the difference between food intolerance and food allergy?



‘Food Intolerance’ and ‘Food Allergy’ are often thought to be variations of the same thing but the biological processes behind them, and how they affect you, are very different.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is quite rare, affecting about 2% of the adult population. During an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system believes it is being ‘invaded’ and produces IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to fight off the food or drink ingredient it mistakenly considers to be harmful.

The body’s inflammatory response in this circumstance can vary from mild to severe and can affect one or more systems in the body, such as the digestive system, respiratory system or the skin. In extreme cases, the immune system triggers a response throughout the whole body, resulting in a systemic reaction (anaphylaxis) which is potentially fatal.

Food Intolerance

Unlike allergy, food intolerance usually involves a delayed biological reaction which, although often uncomfortable and unpleasant, is not life threatening. 

Causes of food intolerance

People react differently to different foods. There is no one definitive test because food intolerance takes on different forms such as:

  • Food Allergy - immediate reaction (IgE)
  • Coeliac Disease – lifelong autoimmune reaction to gluten proteins which damages the gut wall and prevents nutrients being properly absorbed
  • Enzyme deficiencies – lifelong deficiencies such as lactose intolerance
  • Chemical sensitivities – such as reactions to food additives like tartrazine (E102), caffeine  and sunset yellow (E110)
  • Reaction to histamine in foods
  • Delayed onset food intolerance (measurement of food-specific IgG antibodies used by YorkTest as a strategy to determine which foods to eliminate); need not be lifelong

YorkTest Programmes

The NHS acknowledges food intolerance and recommends food diaries and elimination diets as the preferred method of treatment. It can however be difficult to identify problem foods, especially as it is common to experience reactions to several different foods at the same time.

The problem with an elimination diet can be that, without knowing exactly which foods are causing a problem, you might be depriving yourself unnecessarily of nutrients you don’t need to avoid. Also if you try cutting out a combination of suspected ingredients all at once it can make it more difficult to pin point the exact trigger foods.

At YorkTest Laboratories, we have spent the last 30 years, researching and developing our knowledge in the field of diagnostic testing and we are the leading providers of food-specific IgG antibody testing services.

Working alongside trained Nutritional Therapists, YorkTest have developed comprehensive programmes with individually tailored nutritional advice and support to help people balance their diets, optimising their health and wellbeing.

Important Information

Some people have detectable levels of raised food-specific IgG antibody levels but do not experience any health problems. We recommend that only people showing symptoms should take a test, and we always advise that these symptoms should first be checked out by a GP to rule out anything serious.

YorkTest food intolerance programmes do not provide information about Coeliac Disease, enzyme deficiencies such as lactose intolerance, IgE-mediated allergies, histamine sensitivity or other chemical sensitivities.

YorkTest Nutritional Therapists have chosen to use the YorkTest food-specific IgG antibody test as a strategy for the elimination diets that they recommend. The presence of food specific IgG antibodies indicates that the body has shown a reaction to a particular food(s). Many people have circulating levels of IgG antibodies to foods in their blood, but, in order to support their strategy for dietary elimination, YorkTest and their Nutritional Therapists have defined the cut-off used to determine whether food-specific IgG antibodies are detected or not as 10 AU (arbitrary units) per millilitre (AU/mL) of blood, with a "borderline" result being defined as 6-10 AU/mL.

The YorkTest Food Intolerance Programmes measure food-specific IgG antibodies.

Food and drink ingredients we test for

Key
  • Food&DrinkScan, IBS Diet Programme, Ideal Weight Programme
  • Modern Living DietScan
  • FoodScan and FoodScan Junior

Please click the headings below to see each ingredient tested

  • Acai Berry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Chamomile Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Coffee Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Dandelion Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Burdock Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Elderberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Elderflower Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Ginseng (Korean) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Ginseng (Siberian) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Grape (Chardonnay) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Chenin Blanc) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Concord) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Malbec) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Merlot) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Pinot Gris/Grigio) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Pinot Noir) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Red Zinfandel) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (White Zinfandel) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Riesling) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Sauvignon Blanc) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Grape (Shiraz) Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Green Tea Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Guarana Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Hibiscus Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Nettle Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Rooibos (Redbush tea) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Rosehip Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Tea Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Crab Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cod Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Haddock Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Herring Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lobster Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Oyster Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mackerel Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mussel Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Prawn Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Plaice Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Salmon Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Scallop Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Shrimp Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Sole Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Trout Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Tuna Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Apple Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Apricot Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Banana Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Bilberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Blackberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Blackcurrant Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Blueberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Boysenberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Cherry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Coconut Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cranberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Goji Berry Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Grape Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Grapefruit Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Kiwi Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lemon Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lime Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lychee Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mango Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Melon mix (Watermelon, Honeydew and Cantaloupe) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mulberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Olive Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Orange Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Papaya Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Peach Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pear Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pineapple Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pomegranate Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Plum Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Prune Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Raspberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Rhubarb Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Strawberry Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Tomato Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Barley Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Buckwheat Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Corn (Maize) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Gluten (Gliadin)* Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Hops Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Malt Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Millet Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Oat Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Quinoa Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Rice Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Rye Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Dinkel flour (Spelt) Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Wheat Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Anise Seed Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Basil Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Chilli Pepper Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cinnamon Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Clove Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Coriander Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cumin Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Dill Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Garlic Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Ginger Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Juniper Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Nutmeg Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mint Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mustard Seed Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Paprika Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Parsley Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Peppercorn Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Sage Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Thyme Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Vanilla Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Beef Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Chicken Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Duck Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lamb Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pork Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Turkey Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Almond Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Brazil Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cashew Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Chia Seed Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Flax/Linseed Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Hazelnut Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Peanut Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Rapeseed Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Sesame Seed Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Sunflower Seed Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Walnut Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Asparagus Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Aubergine Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Avocado Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Beetroot Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Bok Choi (Pak Choi) Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Broccoli Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Brussels Sprouts Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cabbage Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Carrot Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cauliflower Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Celery Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cucumber Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Haricot Bean Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Kale Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Kidney Bean Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lentils Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Lettuce Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Mushroom Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Okra Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Onion Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pea Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Peppers (Capsicum) Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Potato Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Pumpkin Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Rocket (Arugula) Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Soya Bean Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Spinach Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • String Bean Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Sweet Potato Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Agave Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Aloe Vera Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Carob Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cocoa Bean Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cola Nut Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Cow's Milk Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Egg White Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Egg Yolk Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • Goat's Milk Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Hemp Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Oak Tests for Food & DrinkScan
  • Seaweed Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Sheep's Milk Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Spirulina Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Sugar Cane Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Wheatgrass Tests for Modern Living DietScan
  • Yeast Tests for Food & DrinkScan Tests for Modern Living DietScan Tests for Food
  • We Recommend…

    product image

    Food&DrinkScan Programme

    The comprehensive Food&DrinkScan Programme analyses your IgG reaction to 158 foods and drinks, providing you with clear results and nutritional support to help you replace your problem foods and optimise your diet.

    Key benefits

    • Money Back Promise -  if no reactions are identified YorkTest will refund you €320 (available when you purchase the complete programme at the RRP)
    • Expert testing and analysis of IgG antibody reactions to 158 foods and drinks
    • Comprehensive guidebook and 12 week food and drink diary
    • Two x 30 minute telephone consultations with one of our NTOI/BANT* registered Nutritional Therapists
    • Convenient mail order service – no need to visit our laboratory

    Only

    €350.00

    Add to basket
  • Find out more about Food Intolerance with Dr Hilary Jones

  • Customer testimonials

    Read some of our customers' stories

    Find out more