Food Allergies have recently been in the news because of the attention of the public to peanut allergies in children. The Mayo Clinic defines a true Food Allergy (not sensitivity) as an event involving your immune system. In the case of a true Food Allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies a specific food or a part of that food as a harmful substance. Your Immune System triggers specific cells to produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight it’s supposed “enemy” food or part of the food. Hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your throat, lips or tongue, or a tingling in your mouth are all signs of a Food Allergy.

There is recent information by German researchers University of Wurzburg that finds that only a small number of the adults who report “food allergies” are really Food Intolerances. The patients,over 400 of them, underwent a standardized diagnostic evaluation, including a thorough history-taking, blood tests and food challenge tests.

As a starting point, Dr Axel Trautmann and his researchers took the knowledge that up to 20 per cent of the population sees itself as suffering from a food allergy or one type or another. In addition, legitimate immune-related food allergy is suspected by physicians and patients far more often that it is actually present.

Unsubstantiated suspicions of food allergy can considerably impair the quality of a patient's life because of uncalled for dietary restrictions along with the additional anxiety. However, with life-threatening anaphylaxis can unexpectedly occur when an IgE-mediated food allergy that has gone undiagnosed or has not been taken seriously.

The significance of differentiating between IgE-mediated food allergy and other non-allergic types of food reaction was emphasized by the results of the Wurzburg study. Of the 419 patients examined, 214 (51.1%) were found to have an IgE-mediated food allergy. Almost half of these patients (24.3% of the overall group) had previously experienced food-induced anaphylaxis. In 205 patients (48.9%), however, an IgE-mediated food allergy was ruled out as far as possible.

The Conclusion: “ Only a comprehensive evaluation performed by an experienced allergist in accordance with current guidelines can protect patients from the negative consequences of excessive concern about a non-existent food allergy or, on the other hand, the negative consequences of inadequate attention to a genuine food allergy. A proper evaluation consists of detailed history-taking, skin tests and challenge test when indicated.”

Ten to 20% of adults in the population report food intolerances - mostly they refer to these as "food allergies". Even though only a small number of these are genuine immunologically mediated allergies. Food intolerances are therefore overrated while potentially dangerous food allergies are often not diagnosed at all or only with delays.

Personally I have found that many of my challenges with foods come from the additives in processed foods.  The additives are not always good for your health and are often the reason for problems.  I shop around the edges of the grocery store, choosing Organic produce and fruits, locally grown when possible.  The closer to the farm the better.  Stay well!

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