While the idea of food allergy is becoming more clearly understood there is still some confusion surrounding the definition of food allergy compared to food sensitivity and food intolerance.
The incidence of food allergy continues to increase in Australia with allergy occurring in around 1 in 10 infants, 1 in 20 children and in about 2 in 100 adults. Eggs, cow’s milk, tree nuts, seafood, fish, wheat, soy and sesame are common triggers, however the majority of these allergies in children are not severe and can be outgrown over time, with a smaller number becoming lifelong allergies.
What is an Allergic Reaction?
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy defines allergy as ‘the reaction of the immune system to a substance (allergen) in the environment which is usually harmless (e.g. food, pollen) or bites, stings and medications’. This reaction results in the production of allergy antibodies, which identify and react with foreign substances.
A reaction to an allergy as defined above my result in the development of symptoms such as vomiting, wheezing, hives and swelling of the lips, eyes or face. Reactions can range from moderate to severe with Anaphylaxis being the most severe form of allergic reaction.
Often the term allergy is misused to describe any adverse reaction to food. These reactions can result in uncomfortable symptoms including headaches and bloating. Adverse reactions to foods that are not a result of food allergy can include food intolerance and sensitivity, food poisoning and toxic reactions.
Are foods making you sick?
The incidence of food intolerance and sensitivities has, like food allergies, increased dramatically over the years. It is estimated that up to 20% of the national population may suffer from sensitivities with Intolerances to food being more common than true allergic reactions to food, particularly for adults.
According to The Dieticians Association of Australia there are many symptoms that can occur as a result of food intolerance, which may include:
- Hives (or rashes) and/or swellings
- Headaches and migraine
- Stomach and/or bowel upsets
- Sinus and/or breathing problems.
Each person will tolerate different amounts of the chemicals causing food intolerance. These chemicals either occur naturally in food or are added to foods during processing. Often with food intolerance or sensitivity a person will have a lower dose threshold meaning that it takes a smaller amount of the offending chemical over a shorter amount of time to elicit a reaction.
Common natural chemicals that may cause a reaction include salicylates, amines and glutamates. Food additives that are often on the culprit list include preservatives and additives including artificial food colours and flavour enhancers.
IgG Allergy Antibodies
While immediate Allergic Reactions are generally considered a Type I or IgE Allergy the IgG Allergy (Type III) antibodies can trigger a slower, subtle reaction to foods that aren’t tolerated. Due to symptoms occurring hours or days after ingestion it can be very hard to pinpoint the exact problem food using traditional methods such as food diaries. In some cases, a person’s reaction to a food may occur several days after eating the offending food and the link between the food and their symptoms may not be connected.
What is an IgG Food Antibodies Test?
The IgG 96 Food Antibodies Profile (link) is a food sensitivity test that helps identify those people with food related intolerances that are often delayed and difficult to pinpoint. This antibody food sensitivity test is ideal for patients who are trying to identify a food intolerance or sensitivity that may be attributed to a delayed reaction/sensitivity to specific foods.
This profile measures the IgG antibody levels that react to 96 different foods, including commonly eaten foods such as, milk, egg, and meats and fruit. The personalised report will help inform which foods result in a higher IgG Antibody reading and can inform changes to diet and intake of certain foods to reduce symptoms which may include:
- Gut issues
- Gut discomfort