Allergies & Intolerance in Australia
We know that allergies & intolerance are more prevalent in Aussie kids than in previous generations. But really, how common ARE food allergies?
The ‘Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children’ suggests that allergic responses to food have risen by as much as 20% in the last 10 years. The strongest association with food allergy was co-existent eczema. Children with eczema were actually 7 times more likely the have a food allergy than children without eczema, while children with asthma were three times more likely than the general population to have a food allergy.
What are the most common allergenic foods?
Milk / dairy
So what’s the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?
Food allergy and food intolerance are often confused.
An allergy involves an immune system response. An IgE (Type I) response produces IgE antibodies that often lead to an immediate allergic reaction. Symptoms occur within seconds or minutes, and often include severe swelling, breathing difficulty, rash, itching skin, & anaphylactic shock. Delayed response reactions can also occur, which leads to inflammatory processes that can take more than 24 hours for symptoms to appear. Delayed reactions can make pinpointing the offending allergen difficult.
An intolerance / hypersensitivity reaction on the other hand, does not involve the immune system and is simply a chemical reaction. Intolerance reactions may not occur until a certain amount of food (threshold level) has been consumed. This amount can vary from person to person. Intolerance symptoms can include fatigue, abdominal cramping, nausea, constipation & diarrhoea, aching joints & muscles.
What if you’re reacting to anything & everything?
Hyper-reactivity is not an allergy but an intolerance. When you start to react to anything and everything, it is actually a sign of poor gut health, which has lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when damage to the gut lining allows gaps to form between the intestinal lining, which allows food particles, toxins, waste products and bacteria to ‘leak’ through the gut lining into the blood stream. Your body’s immune system then switches to overdrive as it wards off threats, reacting to anything & everything it comes into contact with.
What can you do nutritionally to decrease the risk of allergy in your family?
Introduction of solids around the 6 month mark, and before 7 months, has shown to provide benefit in reducing allergies in children.
Supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy and during breastfeeding with Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG has also been shown to confer protection to bub with relation to reducing the incidence of allergy.
Ensuring healthy gut flora are encouraged in kids by eating a wide variety of food, exposure to animals, limiting antibiotic use where possible, and eating a high fibre diet are all protective behaviours that reduce the risk of allergies in children.
If you suffer from allergy, intolerance, or just react in one way or another to anything & everything, get in touch fro create your personalised action plan.