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FOOD ALLERGIES AND INTOLERANCES


Allergies or intolerances too many foods are widespread and seem to be increasing. It is not only spoiled food and additives that can make people ill. A true food allergy, as opposed to intolerance, provokes an abnormal response from the immune system. Compounds in usually harmless foods are mistaken for alien invaders by the immune system, which responds by launching antibodies to combat the threat. The antibodies cause the release of powerful inflammatory substances that can provoke a range of symptoms, from diarrhoea and nausea to a potentially fatal swelling of the throat. However allergic symptoms usually manifest themselves in minutes, thus alerting susceptible people immediately to the problematic foods.

Foods most likely to provoke reactions are milk, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, strawberries, nuts and pulses, especially soya beans and peanuts. Therefore unless the allergy disappears of its own accord, usually the only recourse is to cut the offending food out of the diet. However true food allergies are rare, but food intolerances are fairly common. The adverse reactions can take hours or even days to set in because, unlike the case with true allergies, the immune system is not affected by food intolerance. Symptoms range from mild maladies like headaches, indigestion, depression and diarrhoea to chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and irritable bowel syndrome. Food intolerance is often difficult to diagnose. Special clinics for treating food intolerance and allergy, which have proliferated in recent years, use a number of different methods to identify troublesome foods.

Therefore in patch tests, food samples are placed on the skin to see if an allergic reaction takes place. But the same allergic reaction may not occur internally when the food is eaten. Another method is the elimination diet banishes all but a few innocuous foods from the diet for a few days. Foods are then reintroduced one by one while any reactions are noted. But this method may not be entirely reliable because the patient expectations of a bad reaction to a particular food could trigger psycho somatic illness. Two common food intolerances are known to be the result of an enzyme deficiency. Some people lack an enzyme in their intestine called lactase without which the lactose in milk and dairy products, such as butter and cheese, cannot be broken down, resulting in symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea and gas. Similarly a deficiency of the enzyme lipase in the intestine can result in problems with fats passing undigested into the lower part of the bowel. Foods can trigger a variety of symptoms because each person’s allergy reaction is different. But certain symptoms or illnesses are usually triggered by specific foods.

# Particular foods may cause allergic reactions in sensitive people they are as follows:-

1. Swelling in throat:- nuts, eggs and shellfish.

2. Migraine:- fish, cheese, chocolate, citrus fruit, wheat flour, sausages, red wine.

3. Swelling on lips:- nuts, eggs and shellfish.

4. Asthma:- eggs, seafood, nuts and cheese.

5. Oedema in fingers and water retention:- eggs, strawberries, cow’s milk.

6. Rash:- strawberries, eggs, nuts, cow’s milk, fermented cheese.

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