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Coping with Food Allergies and Intolerances

Published | 4 min read

Comprehensive guide from experts on how to conquer food allergies. Unlock a world of safe and satisfying dining experiences through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) guidance.

Coping with food allergies intolarance

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system detects and determines a foreign substance as an invader and releases chemicals to fight it.

A food allergy is an allergy due to certain types of food, and is most common in babies and young children.

Allergies can be mild or severe, the latter of which is termed as anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening event causing difficulty breathing, hives, tightness in the throat, hoarseness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, and even cardiac arrest. 

Food Allergies vs. Intolerances: What’s the difference?

In food allergies, the body’s defense system mistakenly identifies a harmless food protein as a threat, thereby eliciting an immune response, which manifests in mild to severe symptoms.

Major food allergens include milk, eggs, certain types of fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and sesame.

Whereas in food intolerances (or food sensitivity), it often affects the digestive system. The body lacks the necessary tools to properly digest certain components of food. While not life-threatening, it can cause digestive discomfort.

Common food intolerances include lactose (found in dairy), histamine (found in foods such as cheese, pineapple, and chocolate), and gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley).

It is important to note that despite the fact that allergies and intolerances can cause unpleasant symptoms, food allergies must be avoided while intolerances may allow for smaller amounts or alternative ingredients.

What are the signs of a food allergy?

Within minutes of consuming a food allergen, symptoms begin to appear. They may include the following:

Eczema

Eczema, hives (urticaria), or raised, red patches may appear; these are rashes often accompanied by intense itching.

Puffiness

Food allergies may cause puffiness in the face, particularly around the mouth, nose, and eyes.

Digestive issues

Allergic reactions may also result in vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps. These symptoms can mimic food intolerances.

Food allergies can become deadly should you go into shock (anaphylaxis). This is an emergency that involves extreme narrowing of the airways, resulting in trouble breathing. If you suspect anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention.

Food Intolerance: Discomfort Without Danger

Food intolerances differ from allergies in one key way: the amount of food consumed. With intolerance, symptoms appear only after exceeding a certain threshold of the substance.

Digestive issues that may arise are bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may even get headaches, or in severe cases, migraines due to food intolerance.

Fortunately, food intolerances are not life-threatening. Despite their unpleasant effects, they will not cause serious reactions associated with allergies.

How can food allergies be managed?

There are several ways by which food allergies and intolerances can be prevented or dealt with.

Avoidance of triggering foods is ideal, but it’s not always achievable due to limitations in food labelling. Thus, you may prepare for such instances in the following ways:

Know Your Enemy

Work with your doctor to identify specific food allergies through testing. Allergies pose a greater risk, potentially leading to anaphylactic shock, a severe reaction requiring immediate medical attention.

Be Your Own Food Detective

Keeping a food journal is key. Record everything you eat and any reactions you experience, including the type of reaction and how quickly it appears. This information is valuable in helping pinpoint problem foods.

Talk to Your Doctor

Consult with your physician on the best course of action for managing food sensitivities. This may involve dietary modifications or carrying medication for potential accident exposure.

Be Prepared

If accidental ingestion occurs, having a plan in place can make all the difference. Discuss with your doctor if any medication is necessary to manage symptoms.

What is the best treatment for food allergies?

Abstaining from trigger foods is the most effective way to prevent allergic reactions. 

Your doctor or a registered dietitian is most equipped to help you identify suitable replacements for your allergens, ensuring you enjoy a balanced and delicious life!

Can food allergies be done away with naturally?

A healthy lifestyle promotes a strong immune system, thereby reducing your overall risk of developing food allergies. 

Natural remedies may also provide aid in this department:

Nutrient-Rich Foods

Incorporating foods high in Vitamin D and zinc contribute to optimal immune function. Prebiotics and probiotics, too, promote healthy digestion, potentially reducing the risk of food sensitivities.

Traditional Practices

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers various approaches to boost immunity. Astragalus porridge, for instance, is believed to strengthen digestion and lung function. Ginseng chicken soup is another option known for its immune-boosting properties.

A Final Note

While TCM remedies hold promise, it’s crucial to consult a qualified practitioner before incorporating them into your routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Managing Food Allergies and Intolerances Naturally”, which first appeared on the allthingshealth.com.

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