Ronéll van Rooyen
To most people an allergy and intolerance to food sounds like the same thing. Let us find out whether the experts agree.
An allergy is a reaction of the immune system caused by eating certain foods. In many cases it can be tested clinically because changes develop in the immune system. Large numbers of antibodies develop when a food allergen is ingested and the diagnosis is confirmed by certain symptoms associated with it. Blood tests are done before a final diagnosis is made.
Food intolerance occurs when food is eaten that does not cause a reaction by the immune system. The symptoms can be very similar to those of allergies and the person may feel sick. Blood tests can confirm it.
Symptoms of food allergies and food intolerance
Symptoms and/or reactions appear within a few seconds or could take as long as two days. In general the ingestion of small quantities that are not taken regularly do not have a big effect. The list of symptoms of both conditions is very long and fairly well known, e.g. swelling, red areas, runny nose, etc.
Conditions that could be associated with intolerance
Coeliac disease: The lining of the bowel is damaged by gluten. The symptoms are nausea, poor appetite, swollen abdomen, etc.
Irritable bowel syndrome: This is caused by stress.
Crohn’s disease: This occurs when segments of the colon and/or small intestine become inflamed; typical symptoms are cramps, diarrhoea and fever.
Lactose intolerance: This occurs where milk sugar (lactose) is present, but not in the case of vegetable milk such as nut milk and soy. The symptoms are diarrhoea and enteritis.
Sucrose intolerance: This is when cane sugar causes diarrhoea and gas in the intestine. Another reaction is a swollen, red rash.
A lot of research and evidence by people confirm that a healthy lifestyle, and especially fresh, healthy wholefood, makes all allergies disappear by themselves. Many people are cutting out many foods and replace them with food from the shelves on which the magic words gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and fat-free appear, but nobody reads the labels to find out what has been added to give these foods a certain shelf life. It’s a question of run from the lion and the bear catches you.
Another factor is definitely preservatives and colourants. On the whole it is therefore better to practice a healthy life style by eating directly from the soil than from cans, packets and bottles. A cup of herbal tea fresh from the garden will also make many reactions disappear in an easy, natural way.
Eat as much as you like and stay lean and healthy
Being healthy and living healthy is much easier than some people make out. Start in the fruit-and-vegy department of the supermarket and load your trolley so that there is little space and money left for the processed store food. Or enjoy an early-morning excursion to the farm market with your family and buy to your heart’s content. It really is true that you can make and eat your fill of fruit salads, vegetable salads, steamed and baked vegetables, fruit drinks and many more and still loose weight and get rid of the symptoms of disease.
Eat heartily … as long as it’s healthy!
Hilda Lategan, 1997, South African cookbook for allergies and food intolerance.
Mary-Ann Shearer, 1991, The Natural way. A Family guide to vibrant health
Mary-Ann Shearer, 2005, The Natural way. Recipe book 2
Johan Jacobs , 2014, Go Natural. Wisdom for healthy living