What is a food allergy or intolerance?

A food allergy is sometimes used to describe all adverse reactions to food, the term is more often used to refer specifically to food reactions that are mediated by the immune system.

To protect us from illness and disease, our immune systems protect us from illnesses and diseases so  are continuously trying to lessen the danger represented by substances called antigens. Antigens are parts of proteins that our bodies recognize as dangerous and take steps to neutralize. Antigens can be found most anywhere there is protein – in foods, of course, but also in microorganisms like bacteria.

When our immune cells identify a dangerous antigen, they act to neutralize it and prevent it from causing harm in the body. When antigens from bacteria or viruses interact with our cells, we can get the flu, or the common cold. We don’t get the flu from food antigens, but we can get a wide range of immune-related symptoms that range from sniffles to hives to anaphylactic shock.

Immediate versus Delayed Hypersensitivity

Allergic reactions to food, also called food hypersensitivities, are further classified as either immediate or delayed. Immediate hypersensitivity reactions occur within hours or even a few minutes after a food is eaten, typically causing very obvious physical symptoms such as a rash, the hives, a running nose, or a headache.

In rare cases, immediate hypersensitivity reactions can cause anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition in which the throat swells and blocks the passage of air. Immediate hypersensitivities affect only a small percentage of the population.

Immediate Reactions to Food

The foods that are most often implicated as the cause of immediate allergic responses include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts), soy, strawberries, wheat, fish and shellfish. Many people with immediate food hypersensitivities must completely eliminate the offending food from their diet to avoid the serious symptoms.

Delayed Reactions to Food

Many of the same foods that are known to cause immediate hypersensitivities in a small number of people, have been implicated as a cause of delayed or “masked” food allergies in much larger numbers of individuals. Delayed food hypersensitivity reactions are believed to affect millions of people; some physicians have suggested that as many as 60% of all Americans suffer from masked food allergies.

These reactions may be responsible for a variety of symptoms including dark circles or puffiness under the eyes, fluid retention, dermatitis, sinus congestion, fatigue, abdominal pain or discomfort, joint inflammation, mood swings, indigestion, headaches, chronic ear infections, asthma, poor memory, anxiety and depression.

As the name suggests, delayed hypersensitivities do not appear immediately after consuming a particular food. In fact, in most cases the immune response is so delayed that it is difficult to determine which food is causing the symptoms, and many people are unaware that they are sensitive to certain foods.

Only through careful dietary manipulation, such as an Elimination Diet or Rotation Diet, is it usually possible to identify these hidden food allergies. The foods most often associated with delayed hypersensitivities include dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy products, peanuts, shellfish, and refined sugar.

Food Intolerance are immune-mediated food allergies represent one type of adverse food reaction. Another type of adverse food reaction is called food intolerance. Food intolerance is an umbrella term that refers to any abnormal physiological response to a food that is not caused by an antibody/antigen reaction. For example, some food intolerances are caused by enzyme deficiencies, while others are caused by poor function of the digestive tract or a sensitivity to a natural or synthetic chemical.

Lactose Intolerance is the most common food intolerance, which affects as many as 30% of adults, additionally it is particularly common in people of African and Asian heritage.

People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough of the digestive enzyme called lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar (lactose) found in dairy products. When too much undigested lactose makes its way into the large intestine, people suffer from gas and/or diarrhoea.

Wheat intolerance,  wheat allergy, and wheat sensitivity are all terms frequently used to described adverse reaction to this food. Wheat is unique when it comes to adverse food reactions, particularly because it has long been classified as the primary “gluten grain” and because its research history has been both complicated and controversial. Understanding allergy-related issues associated with gluten is important for understanding problems connected to wheat.

 

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Look after your insides ~ stomach, intestines…

1. Eat healthily.

2. Eat regularly.

3. Eat sitting up at a table, preferably.

All too easily we spend our daily and/or working lives gulping down food between events/lessons/meetings/exercise. In addition, after returning home we then spend the evenings on our electronic devices and or/sitting in front of the TV with a takeaway or additional snacks in the evening. The problem is that by eating this way we can cause problems with our digestive system, as food does not digest properly so some people have lower stomach and abdominal cramps or indigestion (which if severe is akin to a heart attack).

4. Stop smoking.
Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of the oesophagus (food pipe or gullet), causing heartburn.

5. Lose excess weight.
If you are overweight, your tummy fat puts pressure on your stomach this can cause heartburn.

6. Exercise regularly.

6. Do not binge drink.
Binge drinking increases acid production in your stomach which can cause heartburn, as well as making other digestive disorders worse.

7. Beat stress.
Anxiety and worry can upset the delicate balance of digestion exacerbating so worsening digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Carrot and Red lentil Soup (Vegetarian)

Ingredients

500 grams/ 1 lb Red lentils

4 large carrots finely grated or chopped in a food processor

2 medium potatoes finely grated or hopped in a food processor

2 litres/ 4 pints of vegetable stock (Chicken or Ham stock is fine if preferred)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sprinkling of dried chilli flakes to taste

Freshly chopped Coriander to garnish if you have it or dried coriander

Method

  1. Place the Red Lentils, carrots, potatoes in a large stock pot and stir well.
  2. Add the pepper, chilli flakes and stock stirring well boil for ten minutes – scooping off any scum from the red lentils.
  3. Turn on low to simmer for twenty to thirty minutes.
  4. Serve with fresh bread or croutons.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander fresh or dried to taste.

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Italian Vegetable soup

Italian inspired vegetable soupIngredients

3 litres/ 6 pints vegetable stock or boiling water

3 Large carrots peeled and diced

1 swede peeled and diced

4 medium potatoes peeled and diced

150 grams/6 ozs Red lentils

300grams or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes or passatta

1 desert spoon each of Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Rosemary

6 bay leaves – remove after cooking

Freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns

Chilli flakes  – optional sprinkle during cooking

Salt to taste

Method

  1. Pour stock into a large stock pot adding the ingredients stirring well.
  2. Bring to boil for ten minutes, stir well.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring throughout to prevent the lentils and ingredients sticking to the base of the pan.
  4. Taste to check season to taste.

 

Serve with grated cheese*and fresh bread and butter –

*my son’s personal favourite

A’s simple Autumnal Pumpkin soup

I name this ‘A’s simple Pumpkin soup as my youngest loves it just like this!

However I have added variations underneath;  which make it even more enjoyable for a more adult palate.

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A’s simple Pumpkin soup 

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup (Photo credit: pamelasvoboda)

Ingredients:

1 medium Pumpkin

2 litres chicken or vegetable stock – preferably home-made

4 Bay leaves

1 teaspoon of freshly ground mixed peppercorns

Pinch of freshly ground rock salt

Equipment:

Large 4-6 litre stockpot or saucepan

Large wooden spoon or similar

Ladle

Measuring jug

Teaspoon

Liquidiser, blender or hand blender

Method

  1. Finely dice the pumpkin.
  2. Add to the stock pot with the Bay leaves, vegetable or chicken stock ~stirring well.
  3. Adding the pepper and salt boiling for twenty minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Liquidise with a liquidiser or blender.
  5. Serve in the pumpkin serving with a ladle.
  6. Serve with fresh bread and butter or gluten and dairy free version.

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Variation 1: Simple Pumpkin soup

Ingredients

Potato soup

Potato soup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Add to pan when adding pumpkin:

~ I medium sized red or white onion finely chopped

~ 4 potatoes peeled and finely diced

Method

  1. Once cooked and softened either liquidise or serve as a chunky soup.
  2. Season to taste.

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Variation 2: Spicy Pumpkin soup

Ingredients

1 medium Pumpkin

1 medium sized red or white onion finely chopped

4 potatoes peeled and finely diced

2 litres chicken or vegetable stock – preferably home-made

4 Bay leaves

1-2 teaspoons of chilli flakes or fresh chilli

1 teaspoon of Freshly ground mixed peppercorns

Pinch of freshly ground rock salt

Equipment:

Large 4-6 litre stockpot or saucepan

Large wooden spoon or similar

Ladle

Measuring jug

Teaspoon

Liquidiser, blender or hand blender

Method:

  1. Finely dice the pumpkin.
  2. Add to the stock pot with the bay leaf, vegetable or chicken stock ~stirring well.
  3. Adding the chilli, pepper and salt boiling for twenty minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
  4. Liquidise with a liquidiser or blender.
  5. Serve in the pumpkin serving with a ladle.
  6. Serve with fresh bread and butter or gluten and dairy free version

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Further spicy and non spicy variations add after adding stock stirring well:

  • chilli, nutmeg and coriander
  • curry powder and parsley
  • chilli, ginger and coriander
  • smoked paprika, nutmeg and coriander

 

Serve with Rosemary Socca Gluten free bread: https://sharonac72.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/rosemary-socca-gluten-free-bread/