November 21, 2013

On Food Allergy

Identifying imposters in food

Foods can make you feel sick for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with food allergies. This leaves the door open to “quackologists” selling all sorts of ineffective cures and treatments for a host of ailments that they falsely attribute to food allergies. To avoid getting sucked in by misinformation, be aware that the following ailments are rarely, if ever, related to food allergies:

Food intolerances: The inability to digest a particular food, such as milk or wheat, is typically related to a missing enzyme in the digestive system that prevents a person from fully digesting the food.

Food poisoning: Some foods may have toxins or bacteria that make you sick. Just because a food makes you sick one time does not mean you’re allergic to it, although you should have your doctor check it out.

Histamine poisoning: When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamine into your system, which causes most of the symptoms you experience. Some foods, including strawberries, chocolate, wine, and beer; may contain enough histamine to produce similar reactions, but these are not bona fide allergic reactions.

Reactions to food additives: MSG (monosodium glutamate) and sulphites often cause reactions, but in these cases, the body has a chemical reaction, not an allergic reaction, to the additive, not to the food itself.

Other common ailments: Food allergy is blamed for everything from migraine headaches to irritable bowel syndrome, but most of these ailments are caused by something other than a food allergy. Don’t waste your time chasing the food allergy ghost. Work with your doctor to identify the real cause and obtain more effective treatments.