Food Allergies & Intolerance

Allergies and Intolerance: the facts

A food intolerance can often be mistaken for an allergy. It is thought around 2% of the
adult population in the EU have a genuine food allergy. Some people who think they have
an allergy may actually just have a food ‘intolerance’, which is different.

Food allergies: the facts

If you have a food allergy, your body will treat certain foods as if they were a threat, and your immune system will go into action against them. From common allergies to more extreme reactions, your body makes sure white blood cells go into action to fight off what it thinks is a threat. The resulting allergic reactions will usually occur within minutes of contact with the allergenic food.

Some common symptoms of food allergies are:

  • Itchiness or swelling around the mouth or throat
  • Swelling, flushed or itchy skin
  • Wheezing or short breath
  • A running nose and sore or itchy eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Food intolerances: causes and symptoms

If you have a food intolerance, your immune system isn’t involved. Also, it could take hours or even days for symptoms of your food intolerance to appear the symptoms are usually focused around the stomach and can include nausea, bloating, stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Two of the most common food intolerances are to gluten, which is found in many types of grain including wheat, barley and oats, and lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products.

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Food Allergies & Intolerance

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Keep a food diary

If you think your diarrhoea could be the result of a food intolerance, it’s worthwhile keeping a diary of the food you eat every day and also of when you suffer from diarrhoea. It can be a very useful tool to work out what’s causing the problem.

If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance, see your GP for advice.

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Simple changes can make a big difference to your life

What you eat and how you eat is vital to digestive health.