Food allergies and intolerances are on the rise! Australia has one of the highest rates of allergic disease in the world with 1 in 20 children suffering from food allergies. Many adults and children remain undiagnosed despite showing signs of food allergies or intolerances.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between the symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance. Usually symptoms caused by food allergy develop very soon after consuming the food. Symptoms caused by food intolerance, on the other hand, can be immediate yet may also take 12-24 hours to develop. Food intolerance reactions are usually based on the amount of the food consumed. They may not be noticed until a certain amount of the food or drink is consumed, and this amount varies across the population.
Food intolerance has been associated with asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and is much more common than food allergy. Food is the most common cause of severe allergy in young children - particularly cow's milk, soy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. For older children and adults, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, seeds and egg are the most common food allergens. Other “triggers” can include herbal medicines, fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, the majority of food allergies in children are not severe, and will disappear with time. However, some food allergies can be severe, causing life-threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. Peanut allergies tend to be severe, with some sufferers reacting to a fragment as tiny as one two-thousandth of a nut.
In Australia, peanut consumption is rising. It is a common ingredient in Asian and vegetarian dishes which have grown in popularity in recent years and our diet-conscious population is increasingly turning to nuts as a source of healthy fats. Constant sneezing, itchy eyes, throat and inner ears, asthma, rashes, eczema, upset stomachs and diarrhoea can all be signs of food allergies. Intolerance can bring on similar symptoms as well as conditions such as headaches, bloating, and lethargy. Children with intolerances and allergies are more likely to present with eczema, asthma and ADHD (hyperactivity).
It is important to find out which foods your body reacts to as it can lead to long term health issues if left unaddressed.
Children who have one family member with allergic diseases (including asthma or eczema) have a 20-40 per cent higher risk of developing allergy. If there are two or more family members with allergic diseases, the risk increases to 50-80 per cent.
Can food allergies be prevented?
By eliminating particular foods, someone with intollerances or allergies can quickly see a reduction in their symptoms and strengthen their immune system. Many people discover other changes to conditions that they had just accepted as normal, or would never have associated with food.
Parents, the world over, experience the same frustrations without realising just how much can be improved with simple changes. Recognising the role that allergies and intolerances may be playing in our children's development means we can create a solid foundation for their health.
To learn more about Food Intolerances go to the Fed Up With Food Additives web-site