Food intolerance is a detrimental reaction, often delayed, to a food, beverage, food additive, or compound found in foods that produces symptoms in one or more body organs and systems, but generally refers to reactions other than food allergy. Food hypersensitivity is used to refer broadly to both food intolerances and food allergies.
Food allergies are immune reactions, typically an IgE reaction caused by the release of histamine but also encompassing non-IgE immune responses. This mechanism causes allergies to typically give immediate reaction (a few minutes to a few hours) to foods.
Food intolerances can be classified according to their mechanism. Intolerance can result from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a food substance, as in hereditary fructose intolerance. It may be a result of an abnormality in the body's ability to absorb nutrients, as occurs in fructose malabsorption. Food intolerance reactions can occur to naturally occurring chemicals in foods, as in salicylate sensitivity. Drugs sourced from plants, such as aspirin, can also cause these kinds of reactions.
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