Allergy

Updated 23 June 2014

Zero tolerance: is it an allergy?

If you are prone to reacting badly to certain foods, you may have a food allergy or an intolerance. Here’s how to tell the difference ,and what to do about it.

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Milk

If milk causes: Facial swelling, breathing difficulty, skin reactions, headaches or gastrointestinal symptoms.

You’re allergic
Because Your body’s immune response is triggered by the whey (lactoglobulin) or casein protein in milk.

Do this
Read food labels carefully–whey, casein or lactose indicates the presence of milk. Substitute milk with soy or rice milk and stick to goat’s cheese.
If milk causes: Bloating, cramping or frothy diarrhoea.

You’re intolerant
Because Your body is deficient in the lactase enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products.

Do this
Limit dairy and opt for lactose-free milk. Cheese and yoghurt can often be tolerated.

Eggs


If eggs cause: skin reactions, breathing difficulty, gastrointestinal symptoms or headaches.

You’re allergic
Egg proteins (more commonly egg white proteins) trigger your immune reactions.

Do this
Avoid food containing egg. Hidden sources include baked products, sauces, mayonnaise, nougat and marshmallows. On food labels, lecithin, globulin, albumin or ingredients starting with “ovo” or “ova” indicate the presence of egg.

If eggs cause: bloating, cramps, diarrhoea

You’re intolerant
Because poorly digested egg ends up in the colon, creating gastrointestinal symptoms.

Do this
Avoid food containing egg. Hidden sources include baked products, sauces, mayonnaise, nougat and marshmallows. On food labels, lecithin, globulin, albumin or ingredients starting with “ovo” or “ova” indicate the presence of egg.

Bread, Rye, Wheat

If bread, rye or wheat causes: Skin reactions, breathing difficulty or gastrointestinal symptoms

You’re allergic
Because your body reacts to one or more of the proteins found in wheat, often gluten.

Do this
Stay away from wheat products (that includes semolina and couscous) and eat rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn instead, or eat bread, cereals and pastas made fromcorn-, potato-, soy- and rice-flour.

If bread, rye or wheat causes: Bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation, headache, skin reactions or mouth ulcers

You’re Intolerant
Because the protein gluten irritates your small intestines and hinders the production of digestive enzymes.

Do this
Eliminate gluten from your diet for two weeks, then reintroduce it. If your symptoms reappear, opt for gluten-free foods and alternate with low-gluten containing foods like couscous, rye and oats.

Peanuts

If peanuts cause: Facial swelling, airway constriction or gastrointestinal disturbances

You’re Allergic
The protein particles in peanuts are seen as invaders and trigger an immune response.

Do this
This can be a life threatening allergy – so tell people that you’re allergic to peanuts and wear a Medic-Alert bracelet. Read food labels and avoid anything that contains “vegetable protein”. If in doubt, don’t eat it!

If peanuts cause: gastrointestinal symptoms or headaches

You’re intolerant
Nuts are poorly digested by your body, resulting in undigested nut particles ending up in your colon.

Do this
Usually a small amount can be tolerated every now and then. Avoid completely if the intolerance is severe.

Soy products

If soy products cause: facial swelling, runny nose, abdominal pain or breathing difficulty


You’re Allergic
Because the soy protein is mistakenly seen as harmful and your immune system then releases histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream, leading to allergic symptoms.

Do this
Read food labels and avoid hydrolysed vegetable protein, lecithin, MSG, vegetable oil, vegetable gum and vegetable starch.When in doubt, opt for fresh and unprocessed foods.

If soy products cause: bloating or cramps

You’re intolerant
Because your body is unable to digest the soy protein.

Do this
Read food labels and avoid hydrolysed vegetable protein, lecithin, MSG, vegetable oil, vegetable gum and vegetable starch.When in doubt, opt for fresh and unprocessed foods.

Shellfish

If fish or shellfish causes: skin reactions, airway constriction, gastrointestinal disturbances or facial swelling

You’re allergic
The protein particles in fish are highly allergy-provoking.

Do this
Determine your specific culprit by means of elimination (your dietician can help with elimination diets)or with skin prick tests by your doctor. If you’re severely allergic, avoid restaurants where fish is served from the same kitchen as meat.

If fish or shellfish causes: gastrointestinal symptoms (especially bloating)

You’re Intolerant
Poorly digested fish ends up in your colon where fermentation takes place, causing severe gastrointestinal discomfort.

Do this
Determine your specific culprit by means of elimination (your dietician can help with elimination diets)or with skin prick tests by your doctor. If you’re severely allergic, avoid restaurants where fish is served from the same kitchen as meat.

This story originally appeared on womenshealthsa.co.za - visit the site to read the full version.

(Picture: peanut allergy from Shutterstock)

 

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Ask the Expert

Allergy expert

Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies. obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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