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Facts About Food Allergy

Jaya Mohan

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Allergy or Intolerance?
There are subtle differences between food allergy and food intolerance. The body’s reactions to a suspect food help to determine a diagnosis. Check the chart below to ascertain whether you have an allergy or intolerance:

  ALLERGY INTOLERANCE
Reaction Time Immediate Delayed
Causes histamine and antibodies (IgE) antibodies (IgE)
Symptoms hives (urticaria), rashes, swelling, Vomiting, palpitations, blushing, Sudden tiredness itching, raised pulse, fatigue, water retention, muscle soreness, dark circles under the eyes, headaches , migraines, Diarrhoea, IBS

The Genetic Factor
Although it is common to find allergies in children of parents who have a history of allergic problems, it does not always follow that every such child will be susceptible. The evidence indicates that children of parents who have had asthma, eczema or hayfever will have an increased susceptibility, particularly if both parents are sufferers. The fault seems to lie in the genes that determine the suppression of the release of IgE, a chemical substance in the body which is one of the acute, instant inflammatory responses to specific allergens. However, genes are not the only cause of allergy. For example, identical twins do not necessarily develop the same allergies, which indicate that other external factors such as environmental, bacterial or viral components may also play a part in an individual’s likelihood of developing allergies.

Digestion and Allergies
Approximately 70 percent of the body’s immune system lies in the digestive tract, making this area highly reactive to troublesome foods and substances. One of the most disruptive problems for the intestines is when an overgrowth of candida albicans occurs. Although, candida is an organism that is normally found in the gut, when the immune system is compromised, candida may get out of control and become a problem. When this happens, the candida becomes invasive, burrowing its way through the intestinal wall and creating holes and spaces in an otherwise well-guarded wall. The holes and spaces allow food particles, which would not normally pass into the bloodstream, to cause immune responses there. This is a typical cause of headaches and food intolerance related migraines.

Nutrition Know-How
If you always have a sandwich for lunch, ensure that the type of bread and its fillings are rotated daily to prevent intolerances brought on by a repetitive diet. Try rye, wholegrain or ciabatta bread with a chicken, tuna cheese or salad filling.

Dealing with Allergies and Intolerances
A healthy digestive tract and an efficient immune system are essential for alleviating or preventing allergies and intolerances.Identifying trigger foods and other substances is the first step to tackling the problem.Therefore,working closely with a nutrition consultant is one of the most productive ways of approaching the problem of food allergies.

Symptomatic problems in children can often be rapidly relieved by eliminating certain trigger foods. For example, in cases of hypersensitivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the simple removal of foods that include additives and colourings often has immediate positive effects. In adults, many long term health problems not previously associated with food interactions can often be banished permanently by following exclusion programmes devised with a nutrition consultant. Eating foods in season and rotating foods daily can also help eliminate many minor food intolerances.

Allergy Testing
Many foods irritate both the digestive tract and the body as a whole. There are a variety of different types of tests that can be carried out to determine allergies, ranging from a skin prick test to a full blood test to measure the antibody reaction caused by individual foods. The results of these tests are not always conclusive since false positives as well as negatives often appear.

Food Diaries
Maintaining a food diary that details all your food and liquid intake and subsequent symptomsis a very accurate method of pinpointing those foods that are causing problems.A record of the emotional response towards the foods can also be kept. For example, some people may find that within 24hrs. of eating tomatoes they experience joint pains, water retention and irritability; others may be vulnerable to bread and pasta, suffering reactions such as depression, headaches or sneezing.

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