What is an allergy?
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system (which has the important role of protecting us from foreign invaders) reacts to non-threatening substances such as food or pollen, as if they were harmful. This can cause chemical reactions in the body which sufferers experience as unpleasant (and sometimes life-threatening) symptoms.
It’s important to be aware that reactions to food-related reactions are not necessarily allergies. The can also be classed as intolerance. Adverse reactions to food can be divided into five distinct groups.
Classic, true food allergy, such as peanut anaphylaxis – where there is an immediate Peanut allergy
Peanuts commonly cause an immediate allergic reaction.
IgE immune mediated reaction. This will require emergency adrenaline injections and may necessitate medical resuscitation.
Delayed food allergies are sometime referred to as “hidden”, or “masked” allergies. The reaction to the causative foods can take up to several days to manifest and may take much longer to resolve following removal of that food from the diet.
True Food Allergy, is an immediate IgE-mediated reaction, and can constitute a medical emergency when activated. A small protein particle (called an allergen) is responsible for triggering the antibody response – this causes mast cells to release histamine, resulting in tissue inflammation and swelling. The antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) accounts for 90% of true food allergic reactions. A reaction can occur even to tiny traces of the offending allergen and in exquisitely sensitive individuals, even airborne food allergens can trigger anaphylaxis – this is most commonly known in relationship to peanut allergy.
Classical IgE-mediated food allergy can present with immediate red skin rashes, swelling of the face and neck and even anaphylaxis with shock and circulatory collapse. In adults, the foods most commonly implicated in anaphylaxis are wheat, soy, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and egg .
What is Food intolerance?
Food intolerance(Non-allergic food hypersensitivity), is an adverse reaction that does not involved the immune system.
There are a number of different reasons food intolerance can occur. For example, a deficiency in a digestive enzyme such as lactose results in lactose (milk sugar) intolerance. When lactose (the enzyme that enables us to digest lactose) is depleted the result can be cramping, flatulence and frothy diarrhoea after drinking cows milk, or more moderate symptoms from smaller doses of lactose (such as from milk r milk powder added to many bread products). It can affect up to 20% of the population, often begins in teenage years and gets worse with advancing age. Lactose intolerance is more common in Asians, African, Hispanic and Mediterranean populations. This kind of food intolerance is best managed by avoiding the food or taking a dietary supplement that contains the missing enzyme.
Some foods naturally contain high levels of a potentially problematic molecules, called amine. The most common of these is histamine. Examples of foods high in histamine include eggs, nuts, olives, alcohol, seafood, aged cheeses, some vinegar, processed or aged meat and fermented foods. Reactions are varied – from digestive disturbance to sinus or throat symptoms, skin rashes (commonly red and itchy) and headaches.
Allergy vs Intolerance.
As detailed above, an allergy is mediated by the immune system, and markers for such reactions can be measured in the blood. Allergy diagnosis is best made by your doctor or allergy specialist. An intolerance is often completely confined to within the gastro-intestinal tract and thus is NOT detectable by a blood test. The gold standard for this kind of problem is elimination and provocation testing.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Colic (in babies)
Bed-wetting in children
Cognitive & Psychological
Colic (in babies)
Bed-wetting in children
Cranky behavior in children
Head & Neck
Runny or congested nose
Irregular heart beat
Muscle and Joints
Joint inflammation (arthritis)
Some cases of rheumatoid arthritis