Food Allergies and Intolerance

A food allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body's immune system to a particular food. This tends to cause unpleasant and unwanted effects (symptoms). There are different types of food allergy, depending on which part of the immune system responds. The acute, sudden-onset reactions tend to be caused by antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Those parts of the food causing allergic reactions are usually proteins and are called allergens. Most of these allergens can still cause reactions even after they are cooked or have undergone digestion in the intestines. Exceptions are fruits & vegetables, which seem to be more allergenic when fresh. Numerous food proteins have been studied to establish allergen content.  Food intolerance reactions are usually related to the amount of the food consumed. They may not occur until a certain amount (threshold level) of the food is eaten, but this amount varies for each person. Food intolerance is a chemical reaction that some people have after eating or drinking some foods; it is not an immune response. Food intolerance has been associated with asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

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