When people think of allergies, they usually picture symptoms like hives, sinus congestion, rashes, runny nose, and dry eyes.
But allergens can have many other effects on your health, and the connection between the allergen and the symptom is not always apparent. Sensitivities or allergies to foods can produce physical symptoms such as joint pain, asthma, bad breath, acne, constipation, fatigue, diarrhea, and weight gain, and psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, “brain fog,” and hyperactivity. One expert claims that 90% of people have some type of food allergy or food sensitivity.
A food allergy results in an immune system reaction, potentially affecting many organs in the body. In severe instances, it can be life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance generally results in less severe symptoms and is usually limited to digestive problems.
With an intolerance, you can usually eat a small amount of the food without much trouble. One common example is lactose intolerance, which may cause indigestion and stomach pains.
More than 140 different foods have been identified as popular allergens. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 90% of food allergies come from just eight types of foods:
- hen’s eggs
- cow’s milk
- tree nuts
While people can sometimes have bad reactions to certain foods, the reactions are not necessarily consistent. This is because your response to food is affected by the health of your digestive system at the time. If your digestive system is in poor health, you may be more sensitive to a certain food than you would be otherwise. Stress can seriously affect your digestive health and can be a trigger for a negative reaction.
This is because the gastrointestinal tract is designed to break food down so that the body can absorb it in a controlled way. The GI tract acts as a protective barrier between food and the inside of the body. When it is not functioning properly, it may fail to break down certain molecules in a way that the body can use, instead allowing them through the barrier where they may play havoc with various body processes.
With more than 140 foods containing thousands of chemicals that might cause problems, we can’t discuss them all, but among the common adverse reactions to food are:
- Absence of a particular enzyme that is needed to digest a food, resulting in indigestion
- Food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Celiac disease
- Stress or other psychological effects
Most researchers agree that allergies to food are most common in children and infants, and it’s estimated that 6% to 8% of children and infants experience food allergies. Intolerance to food, on the other hand, is more common in adults. Adults are more likely to have a compromised digestive system due to stress, alcohol intake, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin. Also, with age, digestive enzymes are produced more slowly and digestive functions slow down. Lactose intolerance is a common example, in which the production of an enzyme (lactase) slows down, typically in people over 40.
If you suspect you have a food allergy or intolerance, contact Evolved Medical in San Mateo, Lafayette, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, CA, for a free consultation. Contact us online or call (888) 925-4568.