Food Allergy, Hypersensitivity & Intolerances!

Research into this complex subject is ever increasing and we know more each day about the complex picture of food sensitivities. So many people are nutrient depleted because they have taken a myriad of foods out of their diet which appear to challenge their health.

The 21st Century presents us with food that is nothing like ‘real food’ and our bodies react with dismay, because what we are eating is so unfamiliar and by design we do not know how to handle this. The supermarket shelves are burgeoning with flavor enhanced, ‘open a packet with ease’ foods, quick foods for busy lifestyles, and all full of unrecognizable ingredients – a recipe for body functioning despair!

The commercialization of food with the wealth of choices on our supermarket shelves, makes a wealth for the food industry and a wealth of distress for the unsuspecting public!

Food Allergy

Many people today believe they have a food allergy and the incidence of food allergies is increasing! Food Allergies are different to Food Intolerances. The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (US) defines a food allergy as ‘an adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food’.

These reactions are often severe and have a rapid onset after ingesting the food. They are often referred to as IgE mediated type 1hypersensitivity and can be life threatening if not treated appropriately! When a food allergy is suspected an IgE allergy screening blood test may be conducted, through the GP to try and define the culprit food.

Showing classic food allergy symptoms

Organ Affected Common Symptoms
Skin Irritation, flushing, urticaria,
Gastrointestinal Abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea
Respiratory – Upper Airway Sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, hoarseness, throat irritation, difficulty swallowing
Respiratory – Lower Airway Wheezing, shortness of breath, respiratory arrest
Cardiovascular Tachycardia, low blood pressure, cardiac arrest
Nervous system Anxiety, dizziness, loss of consciousness
Other Metallic taste in mouth, cramping, urinary urgency

The most common foods to trigger an acute type 1 food allergy are: dairy, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, (cashews, walnuts etc.). Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol.2009 Aug;9(4).
If you suspect a food allergy (an immediate and severe reaction) you must consult a medical practitioner immediately, because this can be life threatening.

The degree of hypersensitivity is categorized in Types where Type 1 is immediate, the most severe in presentation and usually involves an IgE anti body response, while Type IV is a delayed response such as shown in contact dermatitis and is generally effected by a T lymphocyte response.

Food Intolerance

Food intolerances come into a different category and are also on the increase with the ‘Free From’ isle in supermarkets ever increasing in length. Food Intolerance reactions are generally delayed and may take up to 2-3 days to become apparent.

Many foods contain components that can be difficult for some people to digest for example lactose in milk and high lectin content foods like beans and pulses and this is often due to a lack of certain enzymes produced by the digestive tract.

Also many people have lower than ideal levels of stomach acid to breakdown food sufficiently and this then goes onto cause symptoms in the lower bowel area. This common problem particularly affects the adequate breakdown of proteins which often leads to low mineral status in the body such as iron, magnesium, zinc etc. and as these are minerals are needed to produce effective digestive enzymes, so the problem is compounded. Undigested proteins in the lower intestinal tract can cause fermentation and gas and this can lead to rapid bowel evacuation.

The Microbiome and the Intestinal Tract

The health of the gastro intestinal tract is the key to the health of the body.

The microbial population in the gastro intestinal area probably play the biggest part in its health and behavior. Food Intolerances and Food Allergies are influenced by the balance of gastro-intestinal microbes. Again this is a huge and complex subject but as an over view; the species of microbes housed in this area, the the type of food you eat, your digestive competence, the medication you take and have taken, your level of stress, your exposure to toxins, your illnesses etc. all have an impact on the healthy balance of this internal ecosystem and the permeability of the intestinal lining.

The intestinal lining forms a barrier, selectively regulating permeability for the movement of ions, nutrients, and water. If this barrier becomes disrupted and permeability is increased, small undigested molecules may pass through into the blood stream which may be recognised as antigens and an immune complex may form. The immune complex is formed from the antigen and commonly an IgG antibody and this may trigger an inflammatory responses leading to increased intestinal permeability and triggering inflammatory reactions in other areas of the body. The location of the response may be related to your genetic predispositions and or a specific response in a susceptible area of the body. An estimated 80% of food intolerances are IgG mediated.

Common Symptoms Caused by Food Intolerances
Bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting
Skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes,
Fatigue, joint pains, night sweats

For help and advice with food intolerances and allergies contact Jane Rose-Land, Nutritionist, BSc Nutritional Medicine, BANT, CNHC reg.
Email: Tel: 01366 347452, Mob. 07740287458