Food Allergy Information

Do You Have a Food Allergy?

Around one-third of the UK population have a food allergy, but there are a lot more people who have food sensitivity. Confused? Take our quizzes displayed to find out the difference.

Up to a third of the population believes they suffer a bad reaction to a food or foods. The charity Allergy UK says that around 45% of people may react in some way to food. However, many doctors and experts think the number is much lower. But people who have symptoms which they think may be caused by food are often confused about how to solve their problems.

The difference between food allergy and food intolerance is not understood very well. Some quizzes are included to help you decide whether food might be making you ill.

Food allergy and intolerance myth buster

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What is a Food Allergy?

An allergic reaction is a rapid and serious response to a food by the immune system, the body’s defence system. If you have a food allergy, your immune system mistakes a particular food for an ‘invader’ and attacks it with antibodies. This causes a reaction in which inflammatory substances are released. These cause sharp and unpleasant side-effects.

If you have a food allergy, it’s important you are aware what is in the food you eat. As of 13th December 2014, all foods legally need to state and emphasis whether they contain any of the 14 allergens listed below.

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten (wheat, barley, rye and oats)
  • Crustaceans (such as lobster and crab)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy beans
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives used in some foods and drinks) at levels above 10 mg per kg or per litre
  • Molluscs (such as squid and snails)
  • Peanuts
  • Lupin

Do I Have a Food Intolerance?

Take this quiz to find out if you have a food intolerance

Do you regularly experience any of these symptoms?

  • Bloating and pain in your tummy
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • Wind or grumbling tummy
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Headache or migraine
  • Craving for common foods, such as wheat (bread, pasta) or dairy foods

If you answered yes to one or more of these, you may have food intolerance. The more yeses, the more likely it is you react to food.

However, remember that occasional responses to food are normal. Sometimes, something you eat simply won’t agree with you, or you may have eaten too large a portion, which can give you symptoms of indigestion. This is unlikely to be food intolerance.

Remember, too, that symptoms of food intolerance can be similar to symptoms of many other conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disorders or other intestinal diseases.

What Can I Do?

Don’t eliminate a major food Or food group from your diet. Instead, ask yourself whether you are eating well.

More information is available on the NHS wesbite: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Allergies/Pages/Foodallergy.aspx