What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an immune system response. This happens when the body mistakes an ingredient in food as harmful (normally a protein) and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. An allergic reaction occurs when the antibodies are battling an “invading” food protein. The most common food allergies are shellfish, nuts, fish, eggs, peanuts and milk.
What is a food sensitivity?
Sensitivity to a food normally is more likely to cause a digestive system response rather than an immune system response. Sensitivity to certain foods or food intolerance is the “inability to properly digest or fully process certain foods”, which leads to chronic symptoms and illness.
Bad reactions to foods can take up to 48 hours to appear after eating. So it is difficult to make a connection between the symptom and the food which caused it. Most people keep buying symptom relief (over-the-counter medications) for years without ever realising they have food intolerance.
Symptoms of food sensitivity tend to be those we ‘put up with’ on a daily basis: itching skin, mild diarrhea, coughing, tiredness, mouth ulcers, stomach bloating, stiff joints or back ache and headache. By the time food sensitivity is properly diagnosed – the health can be compromised, with a much greater risk of serious disease. But with corrected diet symptoms evaporate and pre-disease conditions can heal.
What are the symptoms of a food allergy?
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:
- Rash or hives
- Cramping stomach pain
- Itchy skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis is a very serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction that involves a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and body system failure.
What are the symptoms of food intolerance?
There are dozens of symptoms of food intolerance. They fall into these groups:
- Gastro-intestinal (stomach and digestive tract – bloating or diarrhea or irritable bowel, colitis etc.)
- Respiratory (lungs and breathing – chronic cough, asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis etc.)
- Dermatological (skin conditions – eczema or psoriasis etc.)
- Neurological (nervous system – chronic headache)
- Mental – (behavioural, memory, mood issues, depression)
- Musculo-skeletal (muscle and bone disorders – stiff joints, arthritis, gout)
- Reproductive (genital and fertility issues – inability to conceive, miscarriage)
- Immune system (allergies and frequent infections)
- Malabsorption (nutrient deficiencies – anaemia, osteoporosis etc.)
How common are food allergies and sensitivities?
“True” IgE food allergies are rare and typically affect less than 5% of the population. Food sensitivities are much more common and can affect over 80% of the population at some point in their lives.
Testing for food sensitivities/intolerances
The new ALcat test is a cellular test for food and chemical sensitivity. More than 450 substances can be tested. The results from the ALcat test can determine which foods and other substances may trigger unwanted inflammation and related symptoms. The ALcat test can assist you to improve your health issues through dietary and environmental changes.