Food Allergies And Intolerances

What Are Food Allergies

Certain foods do not agree with some people, and might even make them ill. The symptoms of food-related problems are variable and may arise as food allergies and intolerances.

The simplest is a good dislike. An individual might sometimes or always find the appearance or taste of a food unpleasant or disgusting. The problem is easily solved by avoiding that food. Intolerance to a food or a substance in food is more complicated. A food problem is considered psychological if an individual does not have a food allergy, which is determined through immunological tests, but always develops a variety of physical and behavioral symptoms when he is aware that he has eaten the offending substance. Symptoms do not develop when he is unaware of eating the substance.

If a person always develops signs and symptoms whether or not he is aware of the presence of the substance – and his immunological tests are normal – he is said to have a physiological food problem or food intolerance. This means that his symptoms are caused by his body’s inability to digest or absorb the substance.

Detecting Food Problems

Fortunately, most food-related problems cause only temporal discomfort, but they all need to be dealt with. Because immediate treatments differ, it is important to distinguish, with the help of a reputable doctor, which kind of problem a person suffers from.

The usual procedure is to put the individual on a very simple elimination diet, which consists of a few basic foods that are almost never associated with food allergies or intolerances. Symptoms are monitored for several weeks, and foods are gradually added back to the diet. If symptoms then occur, more sophisticated tests are used to determine, which kind of problem is present.

Allergists sometimes inject a suspected allergen under the skin. If the person has an allergy, a skin irritation will develop at the location of the injection. Another test, the cytotoxic test, in which the suspected food is placed with white blood cells from the patient, is not used by reputable specialists.

If a person taking the double-blind challenges does not always respond or develops only less clear-cut symptoms, such as nausea, headache, behavioral problems, and general discomfort, psychological causes of intolerance will be suspected.


The evidence is inconclusive whether allergic reactions to food additives and colorings are the triggers of hyperactivity, hyperkinesis, fatigue, or depression in either children or adults, but if you suspect food to be the cause of a problem, you should be checked for allergy.

Common Food Allergies

Although medical experts agree that there are true food allergies and intolerances, it is not clear how prevalent or widespread they are. When double-blind food challenges are used to establish their presence, only 10-15 percent is common food allergies are actually confirmed and found to have a physiological cause.

True food allergies and intolerances are much more common in children than in adults. The most common intolerance is to lactose, milk sugar. The most common allergies are to the proteins in milk, eggs, wheat, and peanuts. Because these problems can affect growth and health, they need to be identified early. Breastfeeding and the gradual introduction of solid foods, with common offenders, introduced later in infancy, and only gradually, can help to prevent some of these problems. However, it is unwise to put infants or children on special diets until a doctor diagnoses the problem and recommends a diet that includes all the necessary nutrients.

Food Allergy intolerances also occur in adults, although food might not always be the cause. Some drugs, for example, can cause headaches when people taking them to eat certain foods. And there is evidence that in some people who suffer from migraine headaches, certain foods trigger the attacks, although no single food appears to be the cause. People who suffer from migraine headaches should take double-blind food tests administered by an allergist to determine if foods are involved.

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