In Australia, an estimated 1 in every 10 babies born in the country expected to develop a food allergy, one of the highest allergy rates in the world. May hosts Food Allergy Week, an initiative intended to raise awareness of potentially life-threatening reactions.
Food Allergies Defined
When talking about allergies, it’s important to understand the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity or intolerance. A true allergy triggers an immune response to a substance that the body mistakenly believes to be harmful. Allergies can be mild or severe and symptoms can include hives, abdominal pain, dizziness, swelling, particularly of the face, lips, eyes, and tongue, and trouble breathing.
In very severe cases, allergic reactions can lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis, which is a generalized allergic reaction involving the respiratory or cardiovascular system. Anaphylaxis and other severe reactions must be treated as an emergency. Reactions generally occur between a few minutes and two hours after exposure.
What is A Food Intolerance?
The key difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy is that an intolerance does not involve an immune response and can be referred to as a non-allergic hypersensitivity. Food intolerances are typically the result of an inability to effectively digest some component in the food, such as a protein, sugar, naturally occurring chemical or toxin, or a food additive.
For example, many people who have trouble drinking milk lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Symptoms of food intolerance include bloating, migraines, headache, cough, runny nose, stomach ache, digestive disturbances, hives, rash, and a general feeling of illness. These symptoms may take hours, up to two days, to appear, and may persist for several days.
With an allergy, symptoms typically present even after ingesting a small amount of the food, and physical contact or smelling the food can trigger symptoms in a sensitive individual. People with an intolerance to a food can generally tolerate small amounts of the food, or may be able to tolerate the food if it is prepared in a way that neutralizes the component of the food that triggers symptoms, such as fully cooking beans to neutralize a toxin that can cause bloating and gas.
For some people, particularly those with multiple sensitivities, identifying the offending food can be difficult, especially if the reaction isn’t immediate or for those who do not react to every exposure. If you think you may have a food sensitivity, but aren’t quite sure what food (or foods) may be triggering your symptoms, there are some ways to find out.
Diagnosing Allergies and Intolerances
One of the most commonly used methods is with an elimination diet, eliminating all of the most likely culprits from the diet for at least two weeks, then reintroducing one food at a time and monitoring for reactions. This method is time-consuming and can be inaccurate, especially for those foods that can be prepared in a way that doesn’t cause a reaction. For faster and more accurate results, blood testing for antibodies can identify the foods that may be causing you trouble quickly and accurately. At NeuroBalance Chiropractic we can perform the necessary testing.
If you think you may have an allergy, call the practice now on 02 9938 5456 to arrange an appointment. We can help you determine whether your symptoms are due to a food sensitivity or something else.
If you are suffering from a food sensitivity, we can help you find ways to manage the condition without necessarily giving up your favorite foods. This could include supplements, nutritional recommendations, and education on food preparation, among other suggestions that can help reduce sensitivity.