Food Allergies 101. People with seasonal allergies at this time of year may be more fortunate than those who suffer from food allergies, which seem never-ending. But do you really have food “allergies”, or can it be a food “intolerance” – and is it avoidable?What’s the difference between Food Allergies and Food Intolerance?
“Food allergies” are usually caused by Immune System deficiencies. The Immune System mistakes a food for a harmful substance, and causes the cells to make antibodies called “immunoglobulin E” which normally fight disease. This releases histamines and chemicals with physical symptoms such as:
Mild: Skin rashes, hives, over-abundant mucus, swollen lips, eyes or tongue.
Worse: Swollen throat, breathing problems (wheezing, coughing), vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.
Deadly: Anaphylaxis (complete throat closure, anaphylactic shock).
“Food intolerance” more often involves a lack of enough enzymes to digest a certain element. The most common food intolerance is lactose intolerance. The “intolerant” person may experience bloating, gas, abdominal pain or constipation, and possibly excess mucus.
Some symptoms can be part of both food allergies and intolerance, making it hard to differentiate. For example, “celiac” disease – a violent reaction to gluten (the starchy protein in wheat and other grains) – is considered by some medical experts to be both an auto-immune allergy and a toxic intolerance because of the crossover symptoms.
Your Personality or Behavior can be Affected, too!
Food allergies and intolerances can cause people of any age to be moody, irritable, anxious or hyperactive. Individuals may not realize that their mood after eating certain food correlates and coincides with their physical symptoms. Sugar intolerance can over-stimulate a person (make them feel “high”) and then make them sad or depressed, but they may not connect it to their throbbing headache.
Cases of childhood food allergies where children exhibit irregular behavior can be misdiagnosed as – or can actually be a warning sign for – attention disorders like ADD or ADHD.
Common Food Allergies:
Cow’s milk (including cheese, ice cream)
Soy milk and/or soybean products
Wheat or all gluten
Peanuts or all nuts
Shellfish or all fish
Fruits (strawberries the most widespread)
Common Food Intolerances:
Milk lactose from all dairy
Wheat, oats, barley, white rice, corn
Fighting Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
If you have food allergies or intolerances to the above foods or others, it may indicate Digestive or Immune System problems
Meanwhile, you can prevent attacks by:
- Keeping a record of what you ate or drank before a reaction.
- Eliminating one food at a time to find the culprit. For example:
- Replace dairy with brown rice based products
- Replace above grains with millet, brown rice, natural buckwheat and others.
- Eliminate sugary products and sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup.
- For fiber, eat fruits with skin, lentils, green vegetables, sweet potatoes.
- There are some very delicious sugar-free treats, wheat-free breads and dairy alternative products (even ice cream!) at most health food outlets. You’ll hardly taste the difference!