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Facts About Food Allergy

Jaya Mohan

Your diet provides the nutrition you need at every life stage for body function and day-to-day health. Wrong foods can diminish productivity and create stress. We can manage our work and thus our lives better and save ourselves from stress by paying altention to our diet.

Allergic reactions are now quite common. Many more of us experience allergies than people did fifty years ago. The rise can be attributed to the increase in environmental pollution, the use of pesticides and the abundance of other chemicals we use or are exposed to in our daily lives. It is estimated that we are subjected to approximately 3,000 different chemicals every year-so it is no wonder that allergies are on the increase.

Every day our immune systems are challenged by the chemicals we ingest in food and drinks,and the potentially toxic substances we inhale. This constant battle causes the liver to become overloaded consequently making allergic reactions more prevalent. In Britain, the most common food groups that people react to are wheat, dairy products, citrus fruits and eggs. In terms of human evolution wheat is a relatively new food, having only been farmed for the last 10,000 years. It is not clear whether wheat intolerance is due to man’s lack of adaptation to the grain, or if the pesticides, herbicides and chemical processes involved in preparing the grains are behind it. Wheat based foods often form the major part of the Western daily diet, so it is possible that the lack of variety may be the cause of the problem.

However,it is very important to identify food allergy from food intolerance or food aversion.

The expression FOOD ALLERGY is widely used to mean any unpleasant reaction to a food that result in one or more physical symptoms. The word ‘Allergy’ applies to the responses made by the body’s immune system. Food allergy is more common in children than in adults. Certain people (known as atopic) produce excessive amounts of antibody called IgE (immunoglobin E) in response to some foods, pollens or animal fur. The high levels of IgE cause immediate reactions such as urticaria and anaphylaxis, within minutes of eating an offending food. Atopic people are also prone to delayed reactions to foods when symptoms such as eczema, asthma or migraine may not appear for several hours or even days.

Food allergy facts
- Food allergy is not common but can be serious.
- Food allergy differs from food intolerance, which is far more common.
- The more frequent types of food allergies in adults differ from those in children.
- Children can outgrow their food allergies, but adults usually do not.
- The diagnosis of food allergy is made with a detailed history, the patient’s diet diary, or an elimination diet.
- Food allergy is treated primarily by dietary avoidance.

FOOD INTOLERANCE is a delayed reaction that causes a wide variety of symptoms often seemingly unrelated.Food intolerance can occur in many ways. Certain substances namely caffeine in tea,coffee and cola drinks; tyramine in cheese,yeast and red wine; and histamine in beer, chocolate and canned fish-can provoke a wide range of symptoms including migraine, flushing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Other foods like tomatoes and strawberries cause the body to release histamine into the bloodstream, which in turn causes symptoms ranging from flushing to a drop in blood pressure. Susceptibility to these naturally occurring chemicals differs from one individual to another.

Food Aversion is an adverse reaction to a food which may have a psychological rather than a physical cause such as when someone associates sickness with a particular food. If morning sickness has caused a woman to vomit after eating a certain food,for example,she may feel sick at the emotion or smell of it.The cause of such an aversion may be self-evident, or may require the patient to undertake allergy or intolerance tests, diets and food challenges.

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