Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are You Allergic or Intolerant?

While about 25% of adults claim to have a food allergy, only about 2% have a true allergy. Most of the rest of are experiencing some level of food intolerance, a much less serious condition. Understanding the difference can make life easier for those with intolerances while avoiding a serious reaction for those with a real allergy. Take this true-false quiz to test your knowledge:

1. If you experience gas or cramps from milk, bran, or broccoli, you’re probably allergic to them.

2. If you find lactose or high-fiber foods difficult to digest, you should avoid them altogether.

3.You can experience harmful reactions to wheat and not even realize it.

4. The greatest food allergy risks are from seafoods, not nuts.

5. Products labeled as “manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts” are just as risky as those labeled “may contain peanuts.”

Answers: 1. False. These are common signs of a food intolerance resulting from digestive problems such as a lack of certain enzymes or difficulty processing some substances such as fiber or sulfites. With an allergy, the immune system treats certain food proteins as invaders.
2. False. Often these foods can be tolerated in small quantities while gradually increasing the amount consumed.
3. True. Celiac disease strikes about 1 out of 130 people, a cross between intolerance and an allergy to the gluten in wheat. Many who have the disease have no recognizable symptoms other than nutrient deficiencies.
4. True. Seafood allergies are twice as common as nuts or peanut allergies and can be very serious. See your doctor if you have a reaction after eating seafood, even if you’ve never had a problem before.
5. True. Manufacturers can use either phrase, so if you have an allergy, avoid foods with either label.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health November 2007
If you find yourself experiencing discomfort and various symptoms after eating, keep a journal of exactly what you eat, how much and when. Look for patterns and try to isolate the source by combining fewer foods. Consult your doctor if serious discomfort occurs or for help in determining the cause (and remedy) of such symptoms. Gas, bloating, nausea and other forms of digestive distress are not normal, so don’t dismiss them. Nurture your body today!

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