Food, allergies and overweight. Individual Sensitivity Matters

The allergic reaction is strong. Intolerance is sneaky, linked to metabolism

03/20/2022 – by Roberto Baldi

According to an international group of experts (International Obesity Taskforce), 61% of illnesses are linked to a diet that is a source of food allergies and intolerances, from which three million Italians suffer, a figure that has almost doubled in space of a decade. Foods that can cause allergic reactions are both animal and plant-based. The disease affects both adults and children, in more or less severe forms. The first mistake made in this sector is the confusion between allergy and food intolerance, considered by many to be equivalent forms.

Symptoms indicate the differences: violent and rapid immune reaction in case of allergy, which is sometimes associated with skin components, redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, bronchospasm with possible combined reaction called anaphylactic shock and characterized by dose independence; food intolerance, resulting from the body’s refusal to metabolize certain foods or components of certain drugs, characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, abdominal swelling and headaches with reactions proportional to the quantity of substance ingested and of onset tendentially slower than with food allergy.

The most common food allergens: cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelled), milk and dairy products, eggs and egg products, fish and fish products, shellfish and shellfish products, preservatives, sweeteners and antioxidants. Among the intolerances, the most common is the lactose or sugar content in milk. Another typical example of intolerance is favism, which concerns beans, peas, nuts, drugs such as sulfonamides, salicylics, quinidine, menadione.

When the symptoms listed above occur, some simple and quick skin tests are useful such as skin prick, prick by prick, atopy patch test (ATP), to be entrusted to the immunologist to avoid severe allergic reactions, and others more complex such as IgE, lip provocation test, oral provocation test (OPT). Recall that in infants of allergic parents, the risk of developing a reaction is two to four times higher.

The easiest and initially decisive remedy is the elimination of substances which have been found to be allergenic or to which the subject has shown himself to be sensitive anyway. It is useful, in case of proven predisposition to a food allergy, to take urgently a cortisone and an antihistamine, by referring any desensitizing treatment to the specialist.

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