Food Intolerance and Allergies
One man’s food is another man’s poison.” – Lucretius
allergy or intolerance is a major modern
problem affecting people
of all genders, cultures and ages, and involves an abnormal response to an otherwise normal substance.
According to the Royal College of Physicians, one in ten people suffer from allergies
, with food being the most common provokers of allergic symptoms
There is no doubt that the prevalence of food intolerance and food allergies are increasing.
Let us distinguish between food intolerance and a food allergy.
With a true food allergy, a clear immune system
mechanism is involved, showing a particular and specific process within the body
and can be proven through laboratory tests.
It usually has a rapid onset and only a small
amount of the offending food is required to elicit a severe response.
Food intolerance on the other hand produces a wide and varying range of symptoms, usually has a slower reaction time and greater quantities of the offending food substance are required to produce effects that are less severe that in the case of an allergy.
A person with food intolerance is unable to digest and process that food correctly due to a lack of certain enzymes.
Food intolerance can lead to a food allergy if particles of the undigested food manage to enter the bloodstream
and cause an immune system reaction.
We can experience a food allergy/intolerance to just about any food type, but the most common ones are dairy products
, shell fish
, wheat, yeast, nuts
, citrus fruits
and food additives or preservatives.
These substances, that may be harmless
to one individual whilst causing symptoms to another, are called the allergens. The food allergen enters the body through the digestive system
and travels to the body tissues where antibodies
Excessive antibodies cause harm to the tissue
and allergic symptoms appear.
There is not always a clear apparent link between an allergen and the organ it attacks, for example intolerance towards dairy products can affect the nose
Because of the nature
of the allergic reaction, there is no cure to date, and it is imperative to separate allergic reactions
from pathological disease
Food intolerance or allergy is often managed by means of an elimination diet
, and in some cases by means of kinesiology or indicator muscle
With elimination diets
, the suspected possible food allergen is named and monitored through noting symptoms, including food cravings
, palpitations, weight
fluctuations and diarrhoea.
Different options for elimination diets can then be considered, for example a 21 day, a 14 day or 4 to 7 day elimination process where suspected food culprits are avoided and slowly
reintroduced while symptoms are being watched.
Once a food culprit has been identified, the substance should be avoided.
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