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Food allergies often confused with food intolerance

The number of people suffering from food allergies has increased markedly over the last five years with Allergy UK claiming that 45% of the population may suffer some symptoms. In contrast, doctors claim that only 2% of the population actually has a food allergy. To clarify this inconsistency, the difference between food allergy and food intolerance must be clarified. A food allergy is an immune response that can be detected through the presence of antibodies in a blood test and the condition can be fatal. Food intolerance is not based on an immune response but still causes the patient to suffer unwanted symptoms such as fatigue, headache, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea and wind. Food intolerance can be diagnosed through a blood test or an elimination diet. Some people may also develop psychological food intolerance where they believe a food affects them but upon testing it is revealed that the food has no effect on them. Allergy UK believes that the increases in incidence of food allergies and intolerance are due to the fact that more people are eating a wider variety of foods. One expert claims that up to 1 in 4 people may have a food allergy or intolerance with dairy, yeast and wheat being the most common triggers. These foods were not originally a part of mankind's diet and that may be why it is poorly tolerated in many people. A poorer immune system may also be a cause of many of the problems. Factors that can lead people to mistakenly believe they have food allergies or intolerances are poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep and emotional unhappiness. One woman suffered from severe irritable bowel symptoms until her yeast intolerance was diagnosed.

Source: summary of medical news story as reported by The Independent

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About: Food allergies often confused with food intolerance

Date: 25 January 2005

Source: The Independent

URL: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/story.jsp?story=604178

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