Why food allergies matter

While preparing for one of our new courses in food allergens awareness it got me thinking. In today Society we want to be more informed, aware, educated and engaged with our food choices and what we are eating. Our health is so important to us these days but how much do we really know about Food Allergen awareness? How many people really know that a single peanut can mean life or death to some people or allergic reactions can make people very ill? With all the food trends and fads sometimes people with restricted diets due to food allergies and intolerants can be perceive as fussy when eating out and this be can further from the truth. Some allergies are more commonly develop early in life, while others typically develop in later life. While there is no cure for food allergies some children can outgrow their allergies as they get older. For sure food allergies are unpredictable, they can appear out of the blue be or be life-long. The only way someone can avoid getting ill is to make sure they don’t eat the foods they are allergic to.

The phrase ‘You Are What You Eat‘ means that it is important to eat good food in order to be healthy and fit. Food that you eat affects your health, your energy level, your mood, even your behaviour so now think what it dose to you when you have an allergies and intolerants. Cooking with food allergies or intolerances in everyday life can be difficult and eating out can leave you feeling scared, anxious, confused or overwhelmed.

Food Allergies on the Rise……

Research has shown that Peanuts the most common causes a food allergy to cause fatal or near fatal reactions have trebled since 1995 in Ireland and the causes are not clear. They are more common in children than adults and appear to be increasing in frequency

But the thinking is they may be partly genetic as the conditions often run in families and vary from area to area.

Findings from Dr Hazel Gowland “There have been as many cow’s milk allergy fatalities as there have been peanut allergy fatalities in the UK, says leading patient advocate Dr Hazel Gowland in our latest Food Safety podcast on milk allergy and intolerance”

Lifestyle Choices……

Also we need to look at the way we live and the choices we make with the food we consume. Because of our fast pace of life, less than half an hour for lunch, eat,  back to work, home late, eat, a high percentage of the food we eat is processed and made in a factory, it’s no wonder we have no time for cooking from scratch. Or is the question how many know what cooking from scratch is. All kinds of additives are added to foods for many different reasons and mainly of or convenience, eating things that are bad for you, the body will react, how can you not suffer? Basically, our bodies are reacting to the way we eat and live.

Which foods are associated with food allergy and food intolerance? These are 14 Foods Listed in EU Legislation

These foods are easy to identify when they are sold separately. However, they may be less obvious as ingredients in a food product as they can come in many forms or menu item which is where the problem can lay for many who have allergies when buying food or eating out. When eating out you rely on the person making the food or waiting on you to have some knowledge of food allergies and that’s were all the feel go into over drive was it worth the hassle!


The Body’s Warning Signal

What is a food allergy it’s when our immune system causes     Body part affected –  Physical reaction an adverse reaction to specific proteins found in food. How can I tell if someone has a food intolerance, allergies, sensitivities or coeliac disease?  Symptoms are usually not immediate and tend to be less severe with intolerance, sensitivities, coeliac than those associated with an allergic reaction.

The range of symptoms vary from moderate, such as tingling in the mouth and a skin rash, degree of sneezing, wheezing, rashes, brain fog, joint pain, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, or another symptom, to life threatening, such as a severe swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to breathe known as anaphylaxis. Understand food reactions can be challenging to understand although common. While finding the food triggers or causes of the allergies can be difficult and time-consuming. The benefits are worth the time and effort.

What’s the difference?……..

Do we know the difference between food allergies, intolerance, sensitivities or coeliac disease?

Food allergies

A true food allergy has a more severe reaction, were the body’s immune system, has a extreme response against a seemingly harmless substance — in this case, food. Peanuts or seafood would be the common example, where just a trace can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure. Carrying an EpiPen (deliver medicine quickly and effectively) in case of accidental ingestion or even contact with the food in question is essential and can be lifesaving. Reading ingredient labels needs to be a given as a daily routine

Food intolerances

A food intolerance is having difficulty digesting certain foods due to a lack of an enzyme needed to break down the food, having an unpleasant physical reaction to them. It doesn’t involve the immune system it triggers a digestive response so there is no allergic reaction and is non-life-threatening. The symptoms happen gradually after eating a sizeable amount, such as bloating and tummy pain which generally happens a few hours after eating the food. Many different foods, additive, chemical or contaminant in food can cause intolerants. Food intolerances are manageable, try an elimination diet; stop eating the food for a while (about two to four weeks) and then reintroduce small amounts keeping an eye on how much you can eat without causing symptoms.


Celiac disease

Celiac disease is not a true allergy. Gluten causes an auto-immune, complex inflammatory reaction that damages the gut that can make people with coeliac disease very sick. Gluten is found in a variety of grains. Its not life-threatening problem but continuous or prolonged ingestion can cause diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition. It can cause bloating, pain and stomach upset in people who are gluten intolerant.

A study was undertaking by Dr. Sheila Crowe professor of gastroenterology of the digestive tract and its disorders at the University of Virginia, Mar 16, 2018  her finding stated that “Celiac disease is most common in the Irish population” due to being predisposed to specific genes involved in autoimmune diseases. Also according to the Coeliac Society of Ireland – While coeliac disease affects just 1pc of the population, up to 13pc are thought to have gluten intolerance. They also says around one in 100 Irish people has coeliac disease, but “for each person diagnosed, there are likely to be 5-10 people who remain undiagnosed”

The only solution to this problem is to avoid gluten, many processed foods also contain gluten so reading ingredient labels highly advisable. Preventing cross-contamination is imperative and can be a very challenging for people with celiac disease and food business

Food sensitivities

If you have a food sensitivity the reaction is triggered by the digestive system and not the immune system, non-life-threatening.  There are a wide and highly individualistic symptoms, but some signs that may point to a food sensitivity include, including joint pain, stomach pain, fatigue, bloating, migraines, diarrhea, rashes, and brain fog. Gluten is probably the best-known trigger of food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities are on the rise and generally go undiagnosed, affecting our health and moods. After eating the trigger food symptoms can be delayed for a few days unlike a true food allergy. This is why people can go a lifetime without ever knowing they have a food sensitivity due to the delayed reaction times and vague symptoms that look like common illnesses. Food reactions, especially sensitivities, can also fade away with time as our immune systems, and the gut microbiome are continually changing. The best approach to manage food sensitivity is to adopt a short-term elimination diet.

Check out our Food Allergy Course or Call Deborah for more information

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