Allergy related conditions are on the rise, particularly in Australia which has one of the highest allergy prevalence rates in the world. The most common food related offenders are milk, eggs, nuts, soy, shellfish and the biggest one, peanuts. Allergies have become so widespread that some schools have implemented a nut free policy to ensure the health safety of those experiencing a true allergy to nuts. However, the term ‘allergy’ is often used incorrectly when in most instances it should be referred to as an ‘intolerance' or ‘sensitivity'. What’s the difference?
A food ‘allergy’ is when an individual’s immune system responds to something that might be harmless to someone else. Somewhat like a ‘false alarm’. If you experience a ‘true’ food allergy (IgE antibody mediated) you most likely know about it because you will have an immediate reaction to the offending food and probably experienced this since childhood.
Because this type of antibody is located in the lungs and on the skin and mucous membranes the symptoms are usually swelling, difficulty breathing, asthma, eczema or in more serious cases cause an anaphylactic shock. Because the allergic reaction is immediate, it's easy to identify which foods you are allergic to. For example, you eat a nut and you immediately experience difficulty breathing or have an asthma attack.
However more commonly people are experiencing food intolerances and sensitivities (IgG antibody mediated) with the most common reactions arising from milk, eggs, beans, nuts and grains. It is believed that food sensitivities affect a much larger percentage of the population and these start to develop later on in life. Common conditions associated with IgG related food sensitivities and intolerances include:
- Bloating and fluid retention
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Skin conditions
- Behavioural problems in children
- Autoimmune conditions
- Sleep disturbances
The gold standard for any food related reaction is an elimination diet whereby you eliminate the most common offenders for 3 weeks and then one by one slowly reintroduce them back into your diet to identify the foods you are sensitive to. Whilst this is effective, it is incredibly difficult. Particularly as it relates to food intolerances as reactions can be triggered by a number of foods and they can be delayed. The reactions might not show up until 3 days later making it hard to know what triggered it.
Food Intolerance Testing is a test I run in my clinic to help some clients identify if they have a food intolerance and which foods they are intolerant to. The great news about food sensitivities is many of them can be reversed. I believe the biggest trigger is related to impaired gut health and intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut.
By knowing which foods you are reacting to and removing them from your diet you reduce inflammation, reduce your symptoms and most importantly can start the gut healing and repair process. Once you have repaired the gut, more often than not clients are able to reintroduce those foods without any problems.
If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, this might be due to a food intolerance and a food intolerance testing might be a helpful tool in restoring and rebalancing your health.
Click Here to enquire about food intolerance testing at Stephanie Malouf Nutrition