Food Allergies and Intolerances by foodyfaheema

Do you find yourself shying away from a yummy milk and egg desert or being tempted to eat those delicious chocolate brownies only to remember that it contains nuts??? You are not alone! I personally do not suffer from any food allergy or intolerance (as far as I know) but this week I decided to educate you on the basics of this topic which I’m sure many of you can relate to…though you might not have a known allergy or intolerance, we have all struggled to digest some kind of food at some point right? What I found interesting in some people was an allergy to CHOCOLATE…my deepest sympathy!

Food allergies and intolerance are often mistaken for being similar because of the symptoms given off but when triggered, the two are vastly different. They can affect any person at any age of their lives but are most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of 14, it can however be overcome but in most cases it stays with the person throughout their life. A food allergy can be defined as an abnormal immune system reaction to a specific food and is triggered by the consumption of this ingredient. In other words your immune system mistakenly treats the protein in a certain food as dangerous to you that may not be harmful to the next person, this can be ANY food ingredient and even products that contain traces thereof can trigger the allergy. The most common ingredients that causes allergies are nuts, egg, milk, wheat, soy and seafood. NO sushi for you!

Allergic reactions from food can sometimes cause serious illness and even death but in most cases symptoms such as nausea, rash or hives, chest pain, itchy skin and shortness of breath occur. Other symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach pain and swelling of the airways. An allergy is only “activated” when the sufferer consumes the ingredient for the second time and your body is exposed to the harmful protein once again. There are two categories of allergies, one tends to cause rapid/ immediate symptoms which occur within seconds or minutes after exposure while the other only causes symptoms hours or even days after exposure and is often difficult to diagnose. There is no treatment to cure a food allergy and the best way of preventing a reaction is to identify the type of food that causes the allergy and then completely avoiding it in future. An NO…this does not mean saying you are allergic to mom’s dinner only because you not feeling it…shame on u!

Food intolerance on the other hand is never life threatening and is defined as a digestive system response rather than an immune response. It occurs when something in a food type irritates ones digestive system or is unable to properly digest or breakdown the food in our body and occurs every time the food is eaten. However no allergic reaction takes place. Food intolerance symptoms generally come on gradually and does not involve an immune response. One of the most common types is intolerance of cows milk which means that the body does not produce enough of the enzyme to breakdown the protein. If you do have a food intolerance you may be able to take steps that help prevent a reaction instead of avoiding the product eg. If you are lactose intolerant you may be able to drink lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme  pills (aids digestion)  where as with an allergy there is no exception. A food intolerance can cause the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy so people often confuse the two.

Did you know?

  • There are people intolerant to alcohol
  • You can do an intolerance test yourself by taking your pulse and monitoring your body’s reaction to a certain food

There is a strong genetic pattern to food intolerance and because we are born with high levels of lactase in our bodies, lactose intolerance is only diagnosed after the age of  breastfeeding and some may only experience symptoms years there after. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of enzyme your body makes and the amount of food that was consumed. Food intolerance can be managed simply by cutting the food out of your diet or in adults, tolerating small amounts of the troubled food and experimenting with the use of lactase enzyme drops or capsules, in this way you can still go for that chocolate milkshake once in a while, a huge while.

I trust that you have enjoyed reading my post. I welcome any of your questions, comments and suggestions relating to this topic as I am sure to follow it up. foodyfaheema

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