Food Intolerance, Allergies & How We Diagnose Them
Our accredited Brisbane dietitians specialise in food intolerance and food allergies using proven techniques gained from years of experience and knowledge. We can diagnose and help you manage your intolerance to certain foods or assist you with your food allergies.
Just like doctors who specialise in certain fields of medicine, our dietitians also focus on specific areas of health and well-being. If you suffer from an allergy or sensitivity to specific foods, you’ll want a dietitian who has a great wealth of knowledge and experience in this speciality, who is also committed to providing ongoing support. And that’s exactly who we are.
Choosing a specialist is crucial when it comes to managing your food intolerances and allergies because this is a vastly complex area of health and wellbeing. On the surface, a mild to moderate allergy and intolerance can seem like the same thing, but they are not. Your allergies are set off by an immune system reaction, requiring a very different way of management and treatment from a food intolerance. Food intolerances, on the other hand, are generally less severe and tend to focus on digestive, gut and bowel health problems.
We believe that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to health and nutrition. That’s why we choose to work very closely with our clients from the very start. From in-depth diagnosis explanations, to creating a tailored food allergy or food intolerance plan, we help you manage your diet so you can live a healthier, happier life.
How we diagnose and help you manage your food sensitivity
Many of our patients with food intolerances come to us with a long list of symptoms, either with a pre-diagnosed condition or complaints of feeling generally unwell even though they have not been diagnosed with any health condition. Often, our patients cannot remember the last time they did feel well before asking for our help.
At New Life Nutrition, we use the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s (RPAH) elimination diet to help identify and manage your food chemical sensitivities. This way of testing for food intolerance allows us to pinpoint exactly which foods are bothering you.
Our nutritionists and dietitians have worked closely with and are highly recommended by the FAILSAFE support group.
Many patients find an elimination diet a daunting and difficult process, but with the right advice and support from our experienced dietitians and nutritionists, it needn’t be.
Our team can also assist you with creating and maintaining a low-chemical diet plan that can help reduce a huge range of symptoms that you may be experiencing.
We can help you manage your food allergy
Currently, there is no known cure for a food allergy, making long-term, ongoing management necessary. While they occur fairly commonly in both children and adults, in some cases children who have an allergy will simply grow out of it. The good news is that once the allergy-inducing food has been identified, it’s much easier to manage. Most food products are now labelled with an ingredients list as well as known allergen warnings, making it easier for you to manage your food allergy. In saying this, however, there is more in-depth techniques we can assist you with to manage your food allergy on an individual basis.
What is a food intolerance?
A food intolerance is your body’s adverse reaction to a specific type of food. The causes of food intolerances are more difficult to pinpoint than allergies because the reactions tend to be milder than allergies. They might not occur immediately because the reactions don’t involve 1gE antibodies. This doesn’t mean that they are any less concerning.
Food intolerances are chronic and can impact your quality of life by making you feel unwell, causing pain or even mood disturbances. In some instances, the reactions can be delayed by as much as several hours to several days.
Common symptoms associated with a food intolerance include:
- Migraine and headaches
- Poor sleep
- Restless legs
- Behavioral issues
Food intolerance occurs when your body struggles to digest a certain type of food and in the process, produces an adverse reaction. The condition varies from person to person, so it’s important for you to take note of your diet so that we can better help you pinpoint the potential cause.
One of the difficulties with food intolerances is that the symptoms of other conditions can often mimic this one, making some believe that they have an intolerance, when another issue might be the culprit. For this reason, diagnosing this condition may take longer because a range of conditions need to be eliminated before this specific diagnosis can be made.
The good news is that once the issue is identified, it is quite simple to manage.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is your immune system response to a certain food that occurs very soon after it has been consumed, making it a fairly simple task to identify the culprit. In most instances, even a small amount of the allergy-inducing food has the potential to trigger the allergy.
The symptoms of food allergies include:
- Itching in the mouth
- Swelling of the face, lips and tongue
- Stomach pain
The symptoms are not the same for everyone. While they can be somewhat mild in some cases, in others, they can be rather severe and even fatal, known as anaphylaxis. If you believe you are having a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction, please seek immediate medical attention by calling 000 or going straight to your nearest hospital.
Lactose intolerance is the inability of your digestive system to absorb lactose, which is a type of sugar found in dairy. As this lactose isn’t absorbed, it begins to ferment within your colon, resulting in bloating, pain and diarrhoea.
In order for your body to absorb lactose, it needs to be divided into the two sugars from which it’s made up – galactose and glucose – and this is done by a specific enzyme. When this enzyme isn’t present, or if its levels are too low, the process comes to a halt. Babies have high levels of this enzyme because their diet is high in milk. As they begin to grow up, these levels drop.
Lactose intolerance isn’t an allergy. It is important to distinguish this issue from dairy allergies.
A dairy allergy is your immune-response to a dairy product that results in wheezing, pain, skin rashes and swelling of the lip and tongue. A dairy allergy can be severe in some instances. It can also occur immediately, which makes it easy to identify the issue. This isn’t always the case with lactose intolerance as the symptoms can range from somewhat mild to severe and can take some time to identify with the help of our qualified practitioners.
Gluten sensitivity causes your body to produce a negative reaction after ingesting gluten, which is a protein found in barley, wheat and rye. The symptoms of a gluten sensitivity range from gastrointestinal problems to fatigue, joint pain and depression. As with other gastrointestinal conditions, the symptoms differ from person to person, depending on how the condition presents itself.
This condition is very similar to celiac disease, so it’s critical for the right diagnosis to be made. What makes it different from celiac disease? If you have an intolerance to gluten, you may not have the chronic inflammation or the long-term damage that occurs to your small intestine. You won’t be struggling with a leaky gut, which is a more common symptom of celiac disease.
A gluten-free diet is the only way for you to manage this condition, beginning with learning all the foods and products that contain gluten.
Gluten sensitivity is now recognised as a legitimate health condition distinct from other gastrointestinal issues. This recognition ensures you will get the right support and guidance in making healthy lifestyle choices while managing your gluten sensitivity.
Peanut allergy is one of the most common types of food allergies. Symptoms can range from slight discomfort to anaphylaxis, which could be fatal. It should be noted that peanuts are not the same as tree nuts, which include cashews, almonds and walnuts. Peanuts grow underground and are part of the legume family, which includes peas, beans and lentils.
Peanut allergies can cause reactions through skin contact, with more severe reactions caused by contact with the eyes and mouth. If you have a peanut allergy, you will usually have a higher chance of being allergic to tree nuts, but a smaller chance of being allergic to other legumes.
There are a variety of products that now have the potential to contain traces of peanuts, including lupin, or lupine, which has become a fairly common substitute for flour in gluten-free foods.
If you have an egg intolerance, your body reacts negatively to the proteins found within the egg yolk, the egg white or both. It is usually advised that you avoid eating all types of eggs once you have been diagnosed with egg intolerance, since this protein is present in chicken, duck, geese and even quail eggs.
The symptoms of an egg intolerance do not always arise immediately. In some cases, they can take up to 72 hours to appear. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult for those diagnosed with it to pinpoint the problem. These symptoms include digestive problems, skin issues, respiratory complaints, joint pain and fatigue. In many instances, this condition can impact your psychological wellbeing, especially if the symptoms are chronic and severe.
While some people will need to manage their egg intolerance their entire lives, others could grow out of it. Some people find that eliminating egg from their diet – which isn’t always easy due to the huge number of food products that contain this ingredient – often goes a long way in putting an end to their discomfort caused by symptoms of their egg intolerance. But this is not the case for most people, therefore effective, long-term management is essential.
If you are allergic to shellfish, your body produces an immune system-based response after consuming the proteins within certain types of marine animals, including oysters, shrimp, lobster and crab. Some people with this allergy will react to all types of shellfish, while others will only struggle with certain types.
As with other food allergies, the severity of the symptoms may differ from person to person. Some will experience mild symptoms including hives or a stuffy nose, but for others, their reaction may be immediate, severe or even life-threatening. The most common symptoms of a shellfish allergy include swelling of the face, lips and tongue, dizziness, abdominal pain and vomiting.
Corn Allergy & Intolerance
A corn allergy is a less common but more severe reaction of your immune system to a corn product. When this occurs, you might experience hives, sneezing, headaches, nausea and anaphylaxis, which could lead to death.
A corn intolerance, on the other hand, is the body’s negative reaction to corn or corn by-products. An intolerance to corn occurs when you experience discomfort or pain after eating corn. This can sometimes be a delayed reaction.
Just like other types of food allergies & intolerance, everyone experiences corn allergy & intolerance differently. Some might have a rather mild reaction, but it can be immediate and severe in other cases.
A soy sensitivity is not an allergy, but a delayed reaction within your body caused by antibodies called immunoglobulin G. These reactions can appear anywhere from a few hours to a few days after you have consumed soy, making this process of diagnosing soy sensitivity rather tricky.
In some instances, a soy sensitivity and allergy can have similar symptoms, but the former has a much broader list. Symptoms for soy sensitivity include headaches, food cravings, fatigue, stomach pains and even hyperactivity.
A meat intolerance is your body’s negative reaction to the proteins within certain types of meat, such as beef. This reaction can take anywhere from a few hours to a number of days to arise. Meat intolerance symptoms include pain, gas, diarrhoea, rashes and headaches, among others.
It is not only your consumption of the meat itself that can cause issues, but even your consumption of products derived from meat. Certain types of gum, for example, contain traces of beef that may be enough to cause your flare-up. This can make it more difficult to identify meat as the cause of a dietary condition.
It is important that this condition is managed on a person-to-person basis. The intensity of the symptoms of meat intolerance differs, with some people experiencing fairly mild symptoms but severe symptoms for others. The good news is that with the right lifestyle and dietary choices, your meat intolerance can be managed well, greatly improving your quality of life.
FODMAPs are essentially a short-chain carbohydrate, including fructose, sugar alcohols and lactose, among others. These can be found in a wide range of foods, such as wheat, certain fruits and vegetables, yoghurt, milk, soft cheeses and honey. The term FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols (1).
You may have heard about the low FODMAPs diet if you have been diagnosed with IBS. This particular diet calls for your reduced intake of certain types of carbohydrates for periods of time to determine whether they eliminate the symptoms of IBS.
The reason low FODMAP diets are becoming more and more popular is because these types of foods are well known for causing a range of digestive issues, including gas, bloating, diarrhoea and stomach pain, among other problems. The human body often finds these foods difficult to digest, causing the range of negative symptoms to appear.
Determining whether you have a FODMAP sensitivity will take some time. It requires us to focus on the impact of what you eat, even days after you have consumed these products as some reactions can be delayed for hours or even days.
Other Food Allergies
While some allergies are fairly common and can be identified quite easily, there are allergies that are so uncommon that they can be difficult to pinpoint. These types of allergies include reactions to honey, marshmallows and even the range of ingredients used in hotdogs.
Just like reactions to other food products, an allergic reaction to honey, marshmallows or hotdogs can range from mild to severe. These reactions usually occur shortly after these products have been consumed.
Need some further help? Book an appointment now.
Our team is composed of highly certified and experienced dietitians and nutritionists who have dedicated themselves to help our clients live healthier, happier lives. We are passionate about sharing our food and nutrition expertise because we believe this is key to creating effective, long-term changes for your holistic health and development. Our goal is to guide you in changing the way you eat now, so you can change the way you feel forever.
Call us now at (07) 3071-7405 to book an appointment with one of our certified dietitians to receive professional advice about managing your allergies or intolerances, as well as support in making lifestyle and dietary changes on a long-term basis.