If you feel a bit under the weather every time you have a cheese-streaked meal or your favorite soda, perhaps it is time to carefully examine the list of foods your everyday diet is centered on.
Even though food allergies affect only 5 percent of the world’s population, a number of people are plagued by intolerance of widespread ingredients such as dairy products, eggs, nuts, and wheat, and are unaware of it.
If you are prone to migraines, bloating, stomachaches, constipation, and skin conditions which coincide with the intake of certain foods, you may want to undergo some clinical tests.
You may, in fact, be suffering from a food allergy or intolerance of some products you consume daily, and the food which is supposed to keep you alive is actually making you sick.
Intolerance vs. allergy: What is the real difference?
A food allergy is the body’s reaction to the ingestion of even minimal quantities of trigger foods and is usually manifested through hives, difficulty swallowing or breathing, an uneven heartbeat, throat tightening, and anaphylaxis.
Intolerance of certain foods, on the other hand, occurs as a delayed reaction of the body to the intake of trigger ingredients such as lactose, vasoactive amines, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and gluten, and its symptoms are usually milder than in allergy cases.
The food irritable bowel is made of: Common intolerance triggers
A wide range of natural foods can trigger an unpleasant bodily reaction and compromise your gastronomic enjoyment, digestion, and overall well-being.
One of the most common trigger chemicals is monosodium glutamate, which is found in tomatoes, Camembert and Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, and some flavor enhancers.
Another set of substances that can aggravate your migraine or cause a rash, are vasoactive amines such as histamine, serotonin, and tyramine which are natural ingredients found in mature cheese, bananas, pineapples, citrus fruits, avocados, baked meat, vegetables, chocolate, and certain wine varieties.
One more potential culprit of your irritable bowel syndrome and hives is called salicylate, and it is usually found in spices, fruit, veggies, herbs, and flavoring agents.
The worst kind of allergy: The triggers hide where you expect them the least
The list of foods that cause 90 percent of allergic reactions includes milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, nuts, shellfish and fish – but do note that there are exceptions which, though less common, can trigger an acute allergic reaction.
Other foods that can cause your body to turn against you include seeds such as sesame and poppy, spices (coriander, mustard, caraway, and garlic), gelatin, corn, and even meat (mutton, beef, pork or chicken).
If you tend to experience debilitating post-meal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, or cramps, ask your physician about allergy tests to help identify the foods making you sick.
Sense and sensitivity: Foods you crave can turn your stomach against you
People with pronounced sensitivity to certain foods are not exempt from cravings for the very same snacks that are making them sick.
Although the reasons behind such cravings are still a matter of theoretical debate, most people intolerant of or allergic to specific diet ingredients report extreme yearnings for trigger foods, and the cravings tend to become especially prominent in the first couple of weeks upon adoption of an allergy avoidance diet.
Most patients report a gradual lessening of trigger food cravings after a few weeks, but the lasting improvement of overall health, which usually accompanies the elimination of problematic ingredients from the patient’s diet, does not always mean that the allergy is gone for good.
Some people can go back to eating the ingredients they used to be allergic to after a couple of years of avoidance, but as a general rule, blood tests should be carried out first for safety’s sake.
Myth vs. truth: Are autoimmune diseases linked to dietary choices?
Inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes type 1, and psoriasis have been on a steady rise in certain parts of the world despite a relative constancy of genetic factors responsible for their development.
Certain studies have found that though dietary choices may not be directly responsible for an autoimmune disease, Western nutritional patterns can substantially aid disease development in people with a genetic predisposition to inflammatory autoimmune diseases.
This is a rather grim prospect for global health considering the fast pace of Westernization of dietary habits worldwide, which is all the more reason to consider alternative nutrition patterns and replace ready-made meals with unprocessed food, quality supplements, and gluten-, lactose-, and GMO-free products.
One man’s food can be another man’s poison – believe it or not, the adage is very much true. If digestive problems, rashes, and headaches are a faithful companion of your favorite foods, you should think twice before wolfing down your next meal.
You may have a food allergy and not know it, so consider running food allergy tests to establish the main trigger of severe reactions, for your safety’s – and longevity’s – sake.
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Feature photo courtesy of Flickr/Christy Mckenna