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FOOD ALLERGY OR food intolerance?

You may be wondering what food reactions have to do with your skin but what you need to know is that food reactions contribute to the level of inflammation in the body. In the case of acne, inflammation is what causes pores to become clogged and acne lesions to form – it is after all said and done, a chronic INFLAMMATORY disease of the skin. Eczema is often referred to as ‘Eggzema’ because for some sufferers there is a strong intolerance to eggs and when they remove them from the diet, they find that their eczema clears up.

There are two categories of food reactions : Food allergies and food intolerances also known as food sensitivities.

Many people are clear on the fact that a nut allergy can be a very dangerous thing, resulting on occasion, in death. But, outside of this, food allergy isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be. This might be in part because people don’t know which symptoms to look out for. It is also largely because some people use food allergy and food intolerance interchangeably when they are two very different things.

To start, let’s get clear on what a FOOD ALLERGY is…

A true food allergy is an acute, immediate reaction made by the body's immune system to a particular food. The reaction can form from within minutes up to three hours of consuming the food and can range from a mild reaction to one that is severe and life-threatening (anaphylaxis).

The body produces IgE antibodies in response to a food, drink or other substances the body mistakenly thinks is attacking it. The issue can be restricted to one area (your digestive system, skin and so on) or the whole body, where the immune system triggers widespread inflammation and swelling – anaphylaxis – which can be deadly.

Some of the most common symptoms are:
  • Acne, skin rashes, hives, itching or eczema

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth

  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body

  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting

  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

If you have a food allergy, you will need to avoid the food forever. That’s because part of the immune system works on the basis of memory. In exactly the same way your body remembers its response to, say, the polio vaccination you were given as a child (and can prepare its attack should it come into contact with polio again), it remembers its response to nuts, dairy, or whatever. You only need to have a small amount of a suspect food for your immune system to go into overdrive.

If you think you have a food allergy, you can often get tested free of charge via your GP, but private tests are also available. Please let me know if you are interested in this kind of testing as I can organise this for you.

One clinical pearl I’m going to share with you is that, if you’re struggling with the symptoms of a true allergy (itchy eyes, swelling and the like) yet testing reveals no problem foods, the answer might be in the gut. Parasites also cause the body to produce high levels of IgE antibodies (the same antibodies made when you have a food allergy), yet these are not often considered by conventional medicine as a potential cause of allergy-like symptoms.

let’s get clear on what a FOOD INTOLERANCE is…

An intolerance is something very different, producing low grade inflammation throughout the body and symptoms that are far ranging but altogether less dramatic. Food intolerances or sensitivities as they are also known are delayed reactions to food which can take anywhere from 72 hours to three weeks to emerge after consumption.

Some of the most common symptoms are:
  • Weight that won’t shift

  • Bloating

  • Migraines

  • Headaches

  • Coughs (frequent)

  • Runny nose

  • Itchy or overly waxy ears

  • Stomach ache

  • Irritable bowel symptoms (bloating, cramping, diarrhoea, constipation or alternating bowel movements)

  • Hives

  • Fatigue

  • Asthma

  • Arthritis

  • Blocked nose

  • Ear Infections

  • Eczema

  • Sinusitis

  • Urticaria

Although the symptoms might seem less dramatic, it really is worth dealing with food intolerances especially if you’ve had niggly issues for years. This is because the low-grade inflammation through the body if your system doesn’t like something you are repeatedly feeding it, will almost certainly lead to a worsening of symptoms in the future because that’s the way these things work. ALL chronic disease is caused by inflammation of one sort or another.

You can do your own elimination diet by cutting out foods you suspect you might have a problem with for a period of time and then reintroducing them and seeing what happens. Albeit the gold standard approach for identifying food intolerances, it can be time consuming if you are not entirely sure which foods might be problematic.

Being supported by a practitioner like myself can make this a lot easier especially being coached through the ‘reintroduction’ phase which can be tricky but an essential part of any elimination diet.

Alternatively, you can choose to do a food intolerance test. A couple of drops of blood and a finger prick blood test is all you need to get a reliable reading of what your body is objecting to. If you experience any of the symptoms I listed above and want to have a chat about it, then book in your complementary 30 minute call with me – here’s the link to my calendar.

In case you’re wondering, if you have a food intolerance, you don’t have to remove the food forever but it’s important to know that it’s not enough to just take the food out and not do anything about it.

If you find you have a food intolerance, this is your body telling you your gut needs some TLC. If your test results show a large number of food intolerances then this would point to a condition called intestinal impermeability, commonly known as ‘leaky gut’ which will require more TLC to restore, rebalance and heal. Without this vital step, you’re likely to end up (over time) with more intolerances and more symptoms.

If you are wondering whether you have an allergy or intolerance, please do get in touch and book a call with me on:

I can help by offering a variety of testing options to help get to the bottom of the problem, and my Happy Skin Programmes can help bring your body back into balance.

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