I used to eat dairy every day; cheddar cheese was my favourite. I remember on a flight to Australia the only part of the diabolical plane food I would eat was the cheese block. In fact I stole my parents and sister’s and ate them too. That was until about two years ago when I started getting severe stomach pains. It took a while for me to realise that my overload on dairy (something I am now intolerant to) and general ignorance on the topic of correct nutrition was to blame.
It seems that food allergies and sensitivities are on the increase, or at least they being discussed a hell of a lot more. But what are they and what is the difference???
Simply put, a food allergy is a condition of unusually high sensitivity to foodstuff, such as shellfish, that triggers an immune response. The body mistakes the food for a foreign invader and produces an antibody (IgE) to fight it. When the same food is eaten again it causes an immune response which causes the rapid release of histamine. Symptoms of an allergic response include: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, swelling, rashes, runny nose and wheezing. In rare cases severe allergies can lead to anaphylaxis which can be fatal.
Intolerance and sensitivity are essentially the same thing. Food intolerance is far more common than a food allergy. Sensitivity to certain foodstuff occurs because the body is unable to digest the food matter, due to a lack of an enzyme(s). The response occurs in the digestive tract and symptoms are generally milder, though sensitivity levels can vary greatly from person to person.
Why are they on the rise?
Recent years have seen a major shift from ‘skinny’ to ‘strong’. Strong means carrying about what you get out of your body as well as what you put in it. Understanding what your body needs to be in optimum condition requires a little research, but you don’t need to delve far to realise that a lot of food has been tampered with.
The most common food allergens are dairy and gluten, perhaps due to an increased use of genetic engineering and modification of wheat. Packaged and processed foods are laden with preservatives and chemicals, which our bodies struggle to digest. Furthermore, when food is processed a lot of the original goodness (vitamins, minerals and enzymes) are destroyed, potentially leaving us malnourished and vulnerable to disease.
[I say final, I rabbit on for a bit..]
Unfortunately for those suffering with sensitivities or allergies, or those who want to lead a cleaner lifestyle, it can be tricky to find good ‘from from’ options, especially when out and about. Also why are they soooooooooo expensive??? “Cheese sandwhich sir, that’ll be £2.50.” “Dairy free, gluten free toastie miss, that’ll be £6.50.” It is like we are being punished for caring about our health!
You know your body better than anyone. If you believe you have an intolerance keep a food diary. Note everything you eat/drink and how it makes you feel, both physically and emotionally.
Dinner: pasta, tomato sauce & greens …bloated, tired
I know that dairy doesn’t agree with me at all, excess gluten leaves me looking 6 months pregnant and too much refined sugar causes me to break out.
Often doctors will put symptoms like bloating or upset stomach down to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Frequent misdiagnosis can be extremely frustrating, but sometimes you have to preserve and do a little research on your own or seek help from alternative diagnoses.
If you’re a lucky duck who has zero problemos with food, then by all means continue to eat dairy, gluten etc in moderation. It is all about what is best for you. X