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- Is It Really Milk Allergy
- One Of My Pupils Has Anaphylaxis: How Can I Help?
- Is It Really Wheat Allergy
- Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis: Dealing with peanut and other food allergens
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis: Dealing with food allergens
- Peanut (Legumes), Nut and Shellfish Allergy and Potential Fatal Food Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis) Article
- Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Leaflet
Is It Really Food Allergy
|ASEHA Leaflet Series - Food Allergy and other Food Disorders|
WHAT IS IN OUR FOOD
Our food contains:
- Organic chemicals - carbohydrates, proteins, fats, as well as vitamins and minerals that are essential for life.
- Naturally occurring chemicals that can produce toxic reactions in sensitive individuals. Examples of these are alkaloids in potatoes, salicylates in fruits and vegetables; caffeine in tea and coffee, amines in cheese, chocolate, bananas, avocado and wine.
- Small amounts of agricultural chemicals may remain in our food supply from herbicide and pesticide application.
- Food additives are added at various stages of food processing.
WHY WE USE FOOD ADDITIVES
While food is essential to our wellbeing, it has become a commodity and is now a megabillion dollar a year industry with many processed foods on the market. Food must be preserved and packaged to allow it to be stored and transported without spoilage. Food additives are used to maintain freshness, for cosmetic appeal, to facilitate handling and maintain nutritional quality. Convenience foods have come about, as people seem to be disinterested in preparing their own meals.
ADVERSE REACTIONS TO FOOD
Common reactions to foods and other substances in the food supply can include
- frequent colds, sore throats,
- hay fever and mucus problems
- skin diseases,
- hyperactivity, headache
- digestive disturbances.
These reactions can be categorised into three types, Food Allergy, Food Intolerance/Sensitivity and Malabsorption syndromes, e.g. lactose or gluten intolerance.
Food allergy (also known as ‘True Allergy’) is associated with an antibody-mediated response and the reaction is immediate (minutes to within 1 hour). This makes it easy to make the association between eating food and reaction occurring. However, in some individuals delayed reactions can occur. Infants and children are more likely to experience food allergy than adults, particularly if the child is born to parents with a history of allergy. A wide variety of symptoms are associated with food allergy but only a few of these symptoms will be apparent in each allergic individual, and the reactions are usually specific to one or two foods. In adults, the most common allergenic foods are peanuts, soy (legumes), crustacean and fish. In children the most common allergens are milk, soy, peanut, wheat and fish.
Symptoms associated with food allergy are:
- Throat swelling;
- Eczema and other miscellaneous rashes;
- Hay fever; sinusitis and rhinitis;
- Can also lead to anaphylactic shock.
Food Intolerance or sensitivity is not an immunological response (or ‘True Allergy’) and can be provoked by chemical substances both natural (e.g. amines and salicylates) and artificial (e.g. food additives), that are common to many different foods. Some food additives are similar in chemical structure and function to naturally occurring small weight molecules in foods. Those who are sensitive to the small weight molecules can react to the synthetic additives as well. For example, those people who are salicylate or amine intolerant/sensitive can also react to:
- colourings, preservatives
- benzoic acid
- propionic acid
- sorbic acid
Food Intolerances can occur at all ages. The symptoms produced involve many body systems and reactions can be delayed by hours, even days after ingestion. Reactions may affect the skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or central nervous system, either individually or more than one at a time. Reactions associated with food intolerance/sensitivities are usually not as severe as true allergic reactions. They do not always occur on each exposure, are not always reproducible and do not show on allergy testing. They have a threshold level below which reactions do not occur. These reactions are thought to be pharmacological reactions - like side effects from medications.
*Symptoms associated with food intolerance are:
- Hives; localised swelling;
- Headaches and migraine;
- Nasal congestion; sinusitis;
- Mouth ulcers;
- Nausea; abdominal cramps; diarrhoea; irritable bowel syndrome
- Muscle pain;
- Impaired memory; poor concentration; mental agitation; depression;
- Visual disturbances;
*It must be stressed that these symptoms may not be the result of food chemicals, they can also be caused by other illnesses.
In malabsorption syndromes the normal digestion and/or absorption of foods is disrupted. Malabsorption syndromes may be caused by food intolerances. An example of this is lactose intolerance, a sensitivity to cow milk, due to an absence or deficiency of the lactose digesting enzyme lactase. Undigested lactose cannot be absorbed and bacteria in the gut converts it to water and gases, resulting in symptoms of bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. This disorder can be inherited, or can occur after acute infectious gastritis that can damage intestinal cells that produce the enzyme.
In Coeliac Disease, the gluten present in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and oats damages intestinal cells that are critical for digestion and absorption of nutrients. Gluten sensitivity is characterised by diarrhoea, bloating, weight loss, anaemia, bone pain, chronic fatigue, weakness and muscle cramps. In children, this disorder can be a cause of ‘failure to thrive’
How do I sort this out?
If you suspect that your health problem is caused by food chemical sensitivity, you should first consult your health care practitioner to ensure that the symptoms are not being caused by some other illness.
If a lot of foods are involved it is best to work with a dietitian as nutritional deficiencies can occur which can further exacerbate the problem.
Food chemical sensitivity is the specialty of an allergy dietitian, who uses a strictly controlled elimination diet and challenge procedure.
Prof RH Loblay and AR Swain. Food Intolerance. Recent Advances in Clinical nutrition. P169-177.
R Buist 1987 Food Chemical Sensitivity. Harper & Row. NSW Australia.
M Hanssen & J Marsden. 1994. The New Additive Code Breaker. Thomas C Lothian Pty Ltd Victoria Australia
Prof RH Loblay, V Soutter and A Swain. 1988. Hyperactivity and Diet. Audio-Visual Services. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Australia.
FN Kotsonis, M Mackey and JJ Hjelle (Ed). 1994. Nutritional Toxicology. Chapter 6 Allergic reactions and Food Intolerances. Raven Press. New York.
Swain, A R, Soutter, V L, and Loblay, R H. 2004. Friendly Food. Murdoch Books, NSW Australia.
Breakey, Joan. 1998. Are you Food Sensitive.
Dengate, Sue. 1998. Fed Up. Random House, Sydney, NSW.
Martin, S*. 1999. The Facts on Lactose Intolerance.
Available ASEHA. $10 Australian.
Food Additive code numbers which may cause adverse reactions
102, 107, 110, 122–129, 160(b) 132, 133, 142, 151, 155
200 - 203
210 - 218
220 - 228
280 - 283
249 - 252
Glutamate e.g. MSG
621 - 635
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Textured vegetable protein
Plant vegetable protein
Don't forget to join a support group to help you cope…….
For information about ASEHA Qld Inc send us a stamped addressed envelope
ALLERGY, SENSITIVITY & ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION QLD Inc
PO Box 96 Margate Q 4019
Supported by funding from Gaming Machine Community Benefit Fund
Is there a connection between your chronic medical condition and allergy, food intolerance or chemical sensitivity
A publication of ASEHA Qld Inc A volunteer community organisation promoting awareness in the community
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Last Updated (Monday, 16 November 2009 02:32)