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How to better manage your allergies and intolerances

November 14, 2019
Mark Killick
A man rubbing his eyes and crying

Food intolerances and allergies are common, however before looking at how to manage these better it’s important to know the difference.

Food intolerance is sensitivity to a specific food or a compound in a group of foods.

There are many reasons why someone may have a food intolerance. For example it could be due to a lack of enzymes to break down that food normally or because the immune system has developed a negative response to the food – so that the food is seen as an enemy rather than a friend.

A food intolerance in terms of the immune system is classified as an Igg response. Igg is an antibody that our immune system makes to attack antigens such as bacteria and viruses. Food intolerances may go away over time with dietary changes.

Allergies are different, and are classified as an Ige response.

This is also an antibody. In the case of food, if you eat something you have an allergy too, such as a peanut, your immune system will begin making antibodies for the peanut.

This is the same process that happens when a virus is detected. The difference is foods like peanuts should not be perceived as a danger to us, whereas a virus should be.

These antibodies will then attach themselves to mast cells (found in body tissue) who are ready to release histamine next time that person eats peanuts. Histamine and other compounds are what cause symptoms such as swelling and itching.

If you have a food allergy you must avoid the allergenic ingredient. A true allergy results in serious symptoms and in many cases requires immediate medical attention such as antihistamines and the use of an EpiPen (adrenaline injection).

If you have an intolerance, here are some tips to support a healthy immune response and reduce sensitivity to allergens:

  • Eat organic food where possible, to avoid pesticides, herbicides and additives.
  • Have a diet high in berries and other antioxidants and vitamin C – such as pomegranates, plums and cherries. The flavonoid quercetin is thought to be a particularly good natural anti- histamine – some of the richest sources include onions, apples (especially the skin), cherries, berries, pineapple and cabbage.
  • Reducing or eliminating common allergens such as dairy or gluten can be helpful to see if your symptoms reduce. It is however advisable to work with a practitioner to ensure you aren’t excluding any essential nutrients. If your intolerance is a result of low digestive enzymes it may be worth supplementing with these to see if there is an improvement. A live bacteria supplement which may help to support the health of the digestive tract and the immune system.If your intolerance is a faulty immune response you may want to try supplementing with Beta glucans which are commonly found in mushrooms and yeast, Research shows these may stimulate our immune system to work in thecorrect way instead of acting against harmless substances.