What’s the difference between Food Intolerance and Food Sensitivities?

What is the difference between food intolerance and food sensitivities?

Food sensitivity: Inappropriate activation of immune system when exposed to a food component.

  • Celiac disease
  • IgE mediated food allergies (like nut allergies)
  • Non-IgE mediated allergies (food protein induced enteropathies)

Food intolerance: Do not involve the immune system. Caused by abnormal functional response to a food component.


1% affected by Celiac disease
3.5% affected by IgE mediated allergies
35% affected by Food allergy

Both food intolerance and food sensitivities can present with similar symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Eczema



1. NIH

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