Food Allergies & Sensitivities


JULY, 2016

Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming very prevalent.  The common foods this is seen in include cow’s milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, and wheat.  .

In different populations, the occurrence is between 0.5% and 9 % (Venter et al., 2012).  The treatment of these allergies is simple in theory but can be challenging in practice, that is, to avoid consumption of the offending foods.

If bothersome foods are not removed from the diet, food allergy can impair quality of life and affect normal growth and development in children.  As a nutritionist, an allergy-focused diet history is essential to helping clients manage their symptoms.

Taking an allergy-based history of dietary intake for clients is very important in structuring healthy recommendations for each individual.  Allergies are often hard to diagnose and often get overlooked as individuals can present with symptoms that mimic other conditions.

These symptoms may involve an immediate immune response or may not involve the immune system at all.  It takes careful assessment to determine the individuals’ nutritional needs and to determine which foods may need to be avoided.

While take a diet and health history, a nutritional practitioner should discern the following information:  personal and family history of atopic disease, foods that are avoided and why, assessment of symptoms associated with foods, medications used for symptoms and results of symptoms, and any response to the elimination and reintroduction to the food.

In addition, symptoms of cross-reactivity to foods should be noted.  Allergies to pollens may be associated with Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) and it is imperative to know which end of the spectrum allergies each individual is on to differentiate it from the much more serious IgE reaction.

By focusing on allergies with a diet history, the nutritionist may be able to direct client to further possible diagnostic testing which would then help to confirm nutritional needs.  This would allow the client to achieve and maintain proper nutrition for growth and development or to achieve specific health goals.

According to Venter, 2012, “These patient-oriented tools facilitate the appropriate management and follow-up of patients with food allergies.”

Venter, C., Laitinen, K., Vlieg-Boerstra, B. (2012).  Nutritional Aspects in Diagnosis and Management of Food Hypersensitivity – The Dietitians Role. Journal of Allergy 2012; 2012: 269376. Doi:101155/2012/269376.

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