Although many believe that food allergies and food intolerances are a similar thing, they are in fact very different health conditions with widely varying reactions. Intolerance to certain food groups is caused by the inability to digest or process the food, often caused by the lack of appropriate enzymes. Food intolerances typically cause mild reactions such as diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal cramps. Unlike intolerances, food allergies can have extremely serious effects. When an allergic reaction occurs, the immune system responds very quickly, and can result in a life-threatening reaction in the body called anaphylaxis.
A genuine food allergy is a rare condition, with between only 2-4% of the population affected. Although many people believe themselves to be suffering from a food allergy, it can often turn out to be a milder form of food intolerance, and so it is of vital importance to get tested if you suspect any issues relating to food.
The most common food allergies are nuts, particularly peanuts, and all types of shellfish. Also common in younger children are cow’s milk allergies, as well as allergies to certain fruits. There are two types of food allergies that are medically recognised:
- IgE medicated, in which antibodies cause acute reactions through the over production of histamine and other chemicals.
- Non-IgE medicated, in which white blood cells, called T-cells, cause a slower and less severe reaction.
There are three main methods used to diagnose food allergies, all of which are carried out to ensure the patient’s maximum safety. The skin prick test involvesa small drop of fluid containing the allergen being placed on the skin, with the skin beneath then pricked with a needle. If the skin reddens and swells, then the allergy is confirmed. Alternatively, analysing the blood for specific IgE antibodies can identify a small number of IgE medicated allergies. Finally, non-IgE allergies can be diagnosed by the elimination of the suspected food groups from the diet.
Here at Euromed, we offer the most advanced food allergy and intolerance testing available, and will be able to give you the answers you need to better understand your dietary requirements. Using the innovative Vitagene test we can get a clear picture of your genetic history and DNA makeup, allowing you to have complete knowledge of what food groups should be added or avoided. This customised diet plan will help you make healthy and informed choices, and most importantly give you the peace of mind that you are eating the foods your body needs.