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Garlic Allergy and Intolerance Guide

Garlic is a bulbous plant that is used to enhance the taste of many savoury dishes, in all traditional cuisines around the world. Garlic has a pungent smell and a savoury flavour that it adds to meals. However, if you have a garlic allergy, the mere inhalation or its aroma can cause reactions all over your body. Garlic belongs to the allium family, meaning that if you’re allergic to garlic, you may also experience reactions to other spices like chives, leeks, and shallots. Garlic allergy and onion allergy are commonly linked because most patients experience an allergy to both bulbs as they contain specific similar allergens {1}. Garlic allergy is relatively uncommon compared to garlic intolerance, but it still does exist and can be life-threatening. If you’re allergic to garlic, this means that consuming raw or cooked garlic will cause the same reactions, and it’s only best to avoid this spice. Within this guide, we will discuss both garlic allergy and intolerance, including symptoms and ways of testing.

Causes of garlic allergy

Garlic allergy, similar to other allergies, occurs when the body comes in contact with a foreign substance, and your immune system reacts to it. When you have a garlic allergy, your immune system assumes that this substance is “harmful” even though, in reality, it’s not. When your immune system releases antibodies to fight something that’s not typically harmful to the body, it’s what we refer to as an allergic reaction. Food allergies are a specific type of allergy that can be triggered by even the smallest amount of the trigger object or food. Food allergies affect around 8% of children and 3% of adults.

The most common types of allergies are shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs. Compared to these, garlic allergy is among the rare allergies people suffer from. According to most clinical trials, garlic’s most common side effects are body odour, bad breath, and garlic allergy.

Garlic allergy symptoms

Garlic allergy symptoms are often experienced within a few minutes of contact with garlic, but for others it may take a few hours before they can witness them. The most common symptoms are those that affect the skin, like rashes and asthma. These garlic allergy symptoms can show up even after touching or inhaling garlic. Symptoms of garlic allergy can either be mild or severe depending on the individual’s reaction. Symptoms include:

  • Skin inflammation.
  • A tingling sensation of the lips, mouth, or tongue.
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose.
  • Itchy nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy or watery eyes.
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Hives, itching, or redness of the skin.
  • Swelling around the mouth, tongue, face, or throat.
  • Anaphylaxis.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Dizziness or fainting.

Differentiating garlic allergy and garlic intolerance

Garlic allergy, as seen above, can be very dangerous because when symptoms like anaphylaxis show up, this tends to be life-threatening and needs immediate medical help. On the other hand, garlic intolerance is not as serious and can’t be life-threatening. The severity of garlic intolerance increases with the amount of garlic you consume. Food allergies are often confused with food intolerance, which also applies to garlic. It is wise to note that garlic intolerance symptoms often dwell in the gastrointestinal tract. In contrast, garlic allergy symptoms often include skin reactions, like contact dermatitis.

While garlic allergy results from the immune system mistaking garlic for a dangerous substance, food intolerance is due to the body being sensitive to the proteins present in garlic or the body lacking enzymes required to digest proteins in garlic. When you suffer from garlic allergy, it doesn’t matter how much you consume; you will still experience the symptoms. However, the amount of garlic you often consume matters in garlic intolerance. Most people have some tolerance for the food they are intolerant to. So, if you consume too much of that food or ingredient, that’s when things go wrong, and you experience severe symptoms.

The symptoms of garlic allergy happen within a few minutes to two hours. In garlic intolerance, it may take up to three days to witness the symptoms, which makes it hard to pinpoint the cause to a specific food item or ingredient. Food intolerance symptoms take a long time to show up because food must reach the colon first before you can see or witness any signs.

Intolerance to garlic

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Our Complete Intolerance Test Box.

Garlic intolerance is caused by the lack of certain digestive enzymes that are supposed to help break down or process garlic. Intolerance to garlic can also be caused by other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or even stress. Intolerance to garlic and other foods is often a result of a myriad of issues, and that’s why we advise you to talk to your doctor to check for underlying problems before you can take our Intolerance Test kit.

When a certain food isn’t broken down in the small intestines, it gets pushed to the colon. Here, it ferments and forms gas, and that’s when you start hearing the stomach rumble, and you get gassiness and stomach cramps. Having garlic intolerance can be very uncomfortable because of these symptoms. It is common for these symptoms to subside and finally come to a halt once you’ve passed on the food, which in this case is garlic.

Garlic intolerance symptoms

Symptoms of garlic intolerance dwell in the digestive tract but are not limited to there. The symptoms of garlic intolerance often vary from one individual to the next based on your level of intolerance for that specific food item. Symptoms of garlic intolerance include:

  • Bloating.
  • Gassiness.
  • Stomach ache or cramps.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Coughing.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • A runny nose.

Garlic intolerance remedy

The best way to remedy garlic intolerance is by avoiding consuming garlic. The same applies to garlic allergy. It is possible to find substitutes for this flavour and add it to your meals to prevent experiencing symptoms after eating food loaded with garlic. You can also talk to your doctor (once you’ve proved you have garlic intolerance by taking an Intolerance Test). Under their supervision, they can help you go on a garlic-free diet for a couple of weeks, and after you’re finally feeling well, they’ll help you reintroduce it slowly. This method can help you know the amount of garlic you can use without experiencing a reaction. However, this method is not effective for garlic allergies, where the only remedy is to completely cut it out from your meals.

You may also notice that when you have a garlic allergy or garlic intolerance, you will also suffer from reactions when you consume foods from the same family as garlic. These include:

  • Onions.
  • Chives.
  • Leeks.
  • Shallots.

Garlic is part of the allium family, meaning you may be allergic or intolerant to the above foods. That’s because the proteins or allergens in these foods are similar to each other, and if you’re allergic, your immune system will react to them in the same way. This is known as cross-reactivity. You will also need to be careful about what you’re eating by asking for the ingredients or checking the ingredients list when food shopping. You’ll find that most soups, pre-made marinades, and mixed spices contain garlic, and you’ll need to keep away from these. An allergy to garlic means that you will always have to be careful to avoid any contact you may have with this spice. Sometimes people with garlic allergy can also experience cross-reactivity with pollen allergies like birch pollen {2}.

Testing for garlic allergy and garlic intolerance

If you suspect you may suffer from either garlic allergy or intolerance, you need to talk to your doctor about your history and symptoms. Doing so will help the doctor determine what issue you may be having and whether there could be underlying diseases. If there aren’t any, you can take an Intolerance Test or an Allergy Test. You can pick these depending on which symptoms you have based on what’s listed above, or read more on our page dedicated to allergies vs intolerances. But if you’re still unsure, you can take an Allergy and Intolerance Test to check for both.

These home-lab test kits are great at helping you determine what could be causing the symptoms. It could be a garlic allergy, intolerance, or other foods you consume regularly. These tests check for common allergens to help you determine what is the cause of your symptoms. You can order your preferred test kit online, have it delivered within three days, and once you’ve collected your sample, send it back to the lab for testing, upon which you’ll receive your test result within a week. Find out more about your body and health without even leaving your home!

References

  1. Almogren, A., Shakoor, Z., & Adam, M. H. (2013). Garlic and onion sensitization among Saudi patients screened for food allergy: a hospital based study. African Health Sciences, 13(3), 689-693.
  2. Asero, R., Mistrello, G., Roncarolo, D., Antoniottib, P. L., & Falagiani, P. (1998). A case of garlic allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 101(3), 427-428.

Avocado Allergy Guide

Avocados are a popular fruit used in salads, brunches, sandwiches and guacamole. They offer a range of health benefits, as they are high in fibre, healthy fat and nutrients. However, for some people, avocados trigger uncomfortable intolerance or allergy symptoms. Within this guide, we will discuss the difference between an avocado allergy and intolerance, including symptoms and methods of testing.

Are avocado allergies common?

Avocado allergies are uncommon, and are not considered one of the most common allergens in the UK. There are two main causes of this allergy, latex fruit syndrome and oral allergy syndrome.

Oral allergy syndrome

Fruits and vegetables that grow near pollen can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to pollen. Your body can mistake certain proteins in avocados as pollen which generates symptoms for those who have a pollen allergy. As explained in the name, most symptoms in this case occur orally through swelling or itchiness of the mouth, lips or throat.

Latex fruit syndrome

Most common cases of avocado allergy are among those who are also allergic to latex. This phenomenon is called latex fruit syndrome, which occurs because the proteins within latex are similar to those in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, people who are allergic to latex may experience symptoms after consuming certain foods, especially banana, kiwi, chestnut and avocado. It is estimated that 30-50% of individuals who are allergic to latex also experience symptoms when eating plant-based fresh foods. Allergy to avocado without latex sensitisation or oral allergy syndrome is rare, but has been documented before.

Avocado nut allergy

There is not a strong cross-reactivity between nuts and avocados, yet it has been suggested that avocados and chestnuts may both cause symptoms as explained previously by latex fruit syndrome.

Avocado allergies symptoms

Avocado food allergy symptoms include:

  • Hives or rash.
  • Tightness of the throat.
  • Wheezing.
  • Itchiness and swelling of the mouth or throat.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Itchy, watering eyes.

For people who have a severe avocado allergy, there is the chance that consumption could result in anaphylaxis. These symptoms include breathing difficulties, severe asthma, and swelling of the throat which should be taken seriously. If the person experiencing these symptoms owns an adrenaline auto-injector this should be used, and an ambulance should be called as soon as possible.

If you’re unsure if avocado is the cause of your allergy symptoms, you are advised to undertake an allergy test. Through using this at home allergy test, your blood sample will be tested against 38 common allergens. This way you can rule out the main causes of allergies, since avocado is a very rare allergy your symptoms could be caused by a different food item.

Avocado allergies in babies

Avocado is a great food for babies since it has many health benefits and is a perfect texture when ripe. Avocado allergy in babies is rare, yet when introducing new foods into your baby’s diet you should always be cautious. If your baby has experienced allergy symptoms after eating banana, you should be more wary and monitor them closely after trying avocado due to latex fruit allergy.

Allergy symptoms in babies include:

  • Hives or rash.
  • Itching.
  • Red, watery eyes.
  • Wheezing or coughing.

Avocado intolerance

An intolerance is most commonly caused by lacking the enzyme required to digest the problem food, in this case avocados. Therefore it is a digestive response, in comparison to an allergy which is an immune response, indicating the key difference between the two issues.

It is also possible that individuals are intolerant to histamine that is contained within the avocado. In this instance, people will experience symptoms if they eat a food that contains a lot of histamine.

You can test for intolerances from the comfort of your home with our complete intolerance test, which analyses your sample against avocado specifically as well as 158 other potential triggers. From this test, you will be able to get a clearer overview of your health and begin to make changes to prevent symptoms for good.

Avocado intolerance symptoms

If you are intolerant to avocado, common symptoms you may experience are:

  • Stomach pain and gas.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Bloating.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Heartburn or indigestion.

Avocado intolerance stomach pain relief

If you are suffering from stomach pain as a result of an intolerance, it is likely that your symptoms will subside once the food has exited your body. While you are feeling the pain, if it’s safe for you to do so you can take pain killers. Otherwise, you could try a hot water bottle or drink some chamomile tea to ease discomfort.

Avocado alternatives

If you’re looking to substitute avocados in your diet,it’s beneficial to consider what functionyour avocado was serving.If you want to replicate the mild flavour and texture, then avocado alternative options include:

  • Mashed banana.
  • Plantains.
  • Nut butters.
  • Hummus.

However, be cautious if you do replace avocados for bananas, as there is a chance you willexperience the same symptoms due to latex fruit syndrome discussed previously.

Final thoughts on avocado allergy and intolerance

If you believe you have an allergy or intolerance to avocado, the first step is to confirm this with a test kit. Despite being a rare intolerance, our intolerance test even tests for avocado as well as 158 other items. If you’re unsure of which test to order, or you have further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with a helpful member of our customer service team.

Foods With Yeast to Avoid

Yeast is a type of fungus commonly used in food production. You can find yeast in popular foods and drinks like kombucha, bread, sweets, and most baked goods. Yeast is also naturally present in the body, but it’s a different species known as candida. When there’s an imbalance in the body, that’s when you’ll have a yeast infection. The yeast in your body can flare up, causing imbalances due to antibiotics or lifestyle changes.

When you’re trying to avoid foods with yeast, it’s primarily because of an existing yeast intolerance or yeast allergy. A true yeast allergy is rare, and it may be due to other proteins in beverages like beer and wine rather than yeast itself. But even though a yeast allergy is rare, a yeast intolerance isn’t. About 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, but only a few of them are food and yeast allergies{1}. A yeast intolerance can result in gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea, gas, and cramps. It is important to note that the gut naturally contains its yeast, and some foods can trigger it even if they don’t have yeast.

Despite having yeast intolerance or allergy, some people go yeast-free because it helps manage candida symptoms{2}. Candida overgrowth causes yeast infections in the urinary tract, the mouth, and the gastrointestinal tract. One theory as to why candida overgrowth happens is believed to be the misuse or overuse of antibiotics. Too many antibiotics result in the death of good microflora in the gut, allowing space for the growth of candida and other harmful bacteria. Another reason for the overgrowth of candida is excessive stress and hormone imbalance. So, a yeast-free diet is also believed to help regulate this bacteria.

Foods with yeast

Certain foods are notorious for containing yeast. When getting into a yeast-free diet, it is necessary to note foods to avoid with yeast. They include:

  • Leavened baked goods- Most baked goods are foods with the most yeast. They include bread, muffins, croissants, and biscuits containing yeast. Bakers use yeast to make these goods rise and add flavour. So, if you love baked goods, it is essential to inquire whether or not yeast was used in the preparation.
  • Breakfast cereals- Most cereals contain malt. Malt is fermented barley made with yeast. It is necessary to avoid malt if you have an allergy or intolerance to yeast. In most packaged products, you’ll find it labelled as “malt syrup” or “malt extract.”
  • Sweets- Most types of sweets contain malt as an ingredient. If you’re following a yeast-free diet, you’ll need to check the ingredients list on candies.
  • Beverages- Many alcoholic drinks are fermented with yeast. In liquor, the different types of yeast help achieve a particular flavour that the brewer wants to achieve. All kinds of alcohol have some traces of yeast, and those who suffer from yeast allergy need to avoid these beverages at all costs altogether. Kombucha is made using sugar, tea, bacteria, and yeast.
  • Miso- There are types of miso that use yeast in their fermentation process.
  • Soy sauce- Yeast is a common ingredient in soy sauce. So, when buying processed foods, you can find soy sauce to be an ingredient.
  • Berries and grapes- Even though most foods contain added yeast, it occurs naturally in some foods like grapes and berries. So, if you’re allergic to yeast, even the tiny amounts present in these fruits will result in an allergic reaction.

Why you should avoid foods with yeast

If you have yeast intolerance, consuming any foods with yeast may result in digestive issues. Even though digestive problems aren’t life-threatening, they can’t still cause inconveniences because of how you’ll feel, interfering with the quality of your life. Some people also suffer from yeast allergy, which has some severe symptoms and, in some cases, can even be life-threatening. Many people who suffer from a yeast allergy are also allergic to other fungi and moulds.

If you’re perfectly healthy and don’t suffer from either an allergy or intolerance to yeast, you shouldn’t deny yourself the amazing foods and drinks made using yeast. However, you’ll find that some people follow a yeast-free diet to help prevent candida infections.

If you aren’t sure why you are reacting to yeast, you should know that there are three leading causes. These include:

  • Yeast buildup– Sometimes, an overload of yeast in the body can result in a yeast infection. When you have a fungal infection, the symptoms will be similar to those of an allergy, and the difference will be that it’s curable. Some antibiotics will help chase away the yeast infection and a lifestyle change.
  • Yeast allergy- When you’re allergic to yeast, you will notice symptoms affecting the whole body leading to changes in mood, skin reactions, and widespread body pain. Allergic reactions can, at times, be dangerous to your general health and life. A yeast allergy occurs because the body assumes that “yeast” is a harmful foreign bacteria and attacks it. This attack leads to various symptoms that we see physically on the body.
  • Yeast intolerance- Yeast intolerance isn’t as severe as yeast allergy. Most of the symptoms are limited to the digestive tract. Yeast intolerance occurs when the body finds proteins in yeast that it is sensitive toward or it can’t digest as it lacks the proper enzymes to do the job. So, when you consume foods fermented with yeast or foods made with yeast and you have a yeast intolerance, then you will get various gastrointestinal symptoms.

What’s the difference between a yeast allergy and intolerance?

While these two are what mainly cause people to avoid foods with yeast, they are not similar conditions. The symptoms of yeast allergy and intolerance vary from one person to another. However, yeast intolerance is more common than yeast allergy. Yeast intolerance symptoms can take days, while a yeast allergy symptom shows almost immediately.

While a yeast intolerance can cause some discomfort, unpleasant sensations, and pain, a yeast allergy is more severe and life-threatening. One of the most severe yeast allergy symptoms is anaphylaxis, which can lead to a coma or even death if not treated immediately.

While yeast intolerance affects the gastrointestinal tract due to the body’s difficulty digesting the food, a yeast allergy causes symptoms all over the body because it triggers the immune system. Both conditions affect different parts of the body.

You can outgrow a yeast intolerance by working closely with your doctor to make your body resistant. However, you can’t outgrow an allergy; it’s there to stay if you’re already an adult. Only kids can outgrow food allergies when they grow up. When it comes to yeast intolerance, some people can tolerate specific amounts of yeast, while others can’t. But when you’re allergic to yeast, you can’t take a small amount of yeast and not get a reaction. Even trace amounts of yeast result in allergy symptoms.

Yeast intolerance and allergy test

If you react to yeast, it is best to talk to your doctor and get their opinion on the matter. Once they rule out any underlying conditions, you can consider other possibilities like yeast allergy or yeast intolerance. The most common yeast intolerance and yeast allergy symptoms include:

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Our Complete Intolerance & Allergy Test Kit
  • Rashes
  • Bloating
  • Joint pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal issues

If you see the above symptoms, you’ll need to get yourself an Allergy and Intolerance Test, which will help you understand whether you’re suffering from a yeast allergy or yeast intolerance. You can easily order your test kit online and have it delivered to your doorstep within three days. You can mail back the sample to the labs, where it will be cross-checked against many other common allergens, and you’ll get your result within a week. You will also get a list of items you should eliminate from your diet to avoid further symptoms and inconveniences.

Final thoughts on avoiding foods with yeast

If consuming foods with yeast causes you discomfort, it is best to look into the main problem that you may have at hand. Sometimes people get reactions when they drink beer and not when they eat leavened bread, and that’s a sign that you don’t have a yeast intolerance or allergy but rather a problem with some other proteins present in the beer. Once you are sure that it could either be an intolerance or allergy, you can get yourself an Allergy and Intolerance Test online, and it will help you determine whether it’s one or the other. If you have either issue, it’s best to take up a yeast-free diet to avoid further symptoms and hurting your body.

References

  1. Food Allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Source: https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/food/
  2. Bauer, B. A. (2014, August 5). What is a candida cleanse diet and what does it do? Source:https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/candida-cleanse/faq-20058174

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you been looking for delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies? Then you’re in the right spot. Finding a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe that is not only great on your taste buds but also intolerance-friendly can be challenging. When you have intolerances like wheat, milk, eggs, gluten, and others, finding recipes for baked goods that you can enjoy and share with your friends and family without being afraid of getting intolerance symptoms is a little challenging.

If you discover you have specific allergies and intolerances to food, you can recreate recipes you used to enjoy with ingredients that won’t affect your health. This vegan chocolate chip recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free.

It is beneficial to make your own food at home when dealing with food allergies and intolerances because when cooking or baking at home, you can always decide which recipes to use and the amounts to use in each recipe. By doing this, you’re keeping yourself safe and creating healthy options for yourself. Most baked goods we buy contain too much sugar and fats, but when preparing the recipes at home, it gets easier to ensure that you’re eating healthily.

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar

3/4 cup soft dairy-free butter

1/4 non-dairy milk

1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C fan). Preheating the oven ensures that the heat inside is evenly distributed, and once you start cooking your cookies, they will cook all the way through, not just on the surface. Line a baking sheet or two with baking parchment to prevent the cookies from sticking to the baking tray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and sugars and beat or mix until smooth and well combined. Creaming the butter and sugar evenly ensures it disperses sugar evenly into the mixture and increases the mixture by introducing more air into it.

Add the chocolate chips to the cookie dough

3. Add the milk and vanilla and mix again. Evenly mix the wet mixture until everything is incorporated fully.

4. Add in your flour and baking soda and mix until combined. Mix baking soda and flour beforehand so that you don’t need to do a lot of mixing when adding your dry mixture (flour) into your wet mixture (butter, eggs, and milk). The less mixing you do when introducing flour into your wet mixture, the fluffier your cookies will be. We all want cookies that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside but well cooked.

5. Pour your chocolate chips into the bowl and fold these in. when folding, don’t overdo it, just ensure an uneven distribution of the chocolate chips. Overmixing the cookie dough will prevent it from being fluffy and rising.

Mix thoroughly
Mix thoroughly

6. Using a tablespoon (or I prefer to use a small ice cream scoop), place balls of cookie dough onto the baking sheets. Gently press the dough flat. For more decoration ideas, you can use the back of a fork to press them down to create unique textures.

7. Bake for 10 minutes until they begin to turn golden brown. Cookies continue to bake after they have been taken out of the oven, so don’t worry if they look slightly underbaked.

8. Leave to cool on the baking trays or a wire rack and enjoy!

An ice cream scoop is a great way to get the right size.

FAQS

How many calories are in a cookie?

Each cookie contains approximately 195 calories.

How to store cookies

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for five days at room temperature or refrigerated. If refrigerated, leave to return to room temperature before eating for a more enjoyable experience.

Can you freeze cookies?

If you do not want to make all cookies at once, you can freeze the unused dough for up to 3 months.

When baking cookies using frozen dough, you may need to add 2-3 minutes to the baking time to give it a little time to return to room temperature.

Should you melt the butter in the recipe?

It’s recommended not to melt the butter before using it in the recipe. Bring the butter to room temperature instead. This will stop your cookies from spreading too much during baking.

If you want to explore more allergy-friendly recipes, you can visit our dedicated vegan recipe page, where you’ll find many tasty desserts and snacks to make at home.

The Most Common Allergies in the UK

When compared with the rest of the world, the UK has some of the highest allergy rates you’ll find. This is perhaps unsurprising, given our far-stretching beautiful countryside is home to a wealth of fauna and flora, and less than 1% of the UK has been built on.

Which allergies, though, are the most common of all? And who do they affect?

Check out our graphic on allergies, or read on for more information.

Common UK Allergies Infographic

Common allergies in the UK

Identifying and detecting allergies in the UK

It’s important that we collectively get better at diagnosing and identifying allergies in the UK, as the number of patients admitted to hospital following an allergic reaction doubled between 2013 and 2020, reaching over 27,000 per year.

To increase the complexity of this equation further, more and more people are confusing allergy symptoms with COVID-19 symptoms; given there’s a lot of overlap when it comes to runny noses and sore throats. Read our insights on how to tell the difference between the two.

Allergies in children

Another interesting trend our research uncovered is that children with allergies are 80% likely to have two parents who are also allergic in some capacity.

So, if you’re noticing that your child may find allergens problematic, it may be worth you conducting an at-home allergy test to get a quick indicator of whether you, like many others, are also afflicted.

Hay fever

Our survey wouldn’t be complete without looking into the impacts of hayfever, one of the most common allergies in the UK. Most notably, we found that almost two thirds of adult hayfever sufferers felt their sleep was negatively impacted by their allergy with stuffy noses impacting breathing during the night.

This increased to 90% in children, and so antihistamines may be a prerequisite to a good night’s sleep for many.

Managing common allergies

One final insight we’d like to draw attention to is that almost a third of allergy sufferers reported that they have had to adjust their lifestyles to reduce their allergic reactions. This is a smart move, and the practical, actionable steps we’d advise taking include:

1. Properly diagnosing the allergy. You can do this by taking allergy and intolerance tests, and consulting with a GP for professional advice.
2. Adjusting your lifestyle or diet to minimise the chance of an allergic reaction.
3. If an allergy is inevitable, such as a seasonal allergy or hay fever, make sure you’re equipped to fight it as best you can.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our insights and that you’re on your way to comfortably managing your allergy. For more advice, check out our blog which is bursting with handy insights around everything from alcohol sensitivity to elimination diets.

Vegan Brownies Recipe

Enjoying brownies is something no one should be denied ever! I mean, all that chocolatey goodness in your mouth should make you drool. If you have a dairy intolerance or allergy, you also deserve to enjoy brownies just like everyone else, and that’s why we have drafted this simple vegan brownie recipe for you to enjoy.

When looking for a vegan, gluten-free brownie recipe, you might think it will be tasteless and won’t enjoy it as much, but you’re wrong. This recipe makes these brownies as sweet as those with dairy, if not more. Making brownies allergy-free at home is the best because you know every ingredient that goes into the recipe and can adjust accordingly. If you want to reduce the sweetness level, you can always tone down on the sugar or even alternate it with a different sweetener of your choice.

This intolerance-friendly brownie recipe is loaded with all the healthy ingredients. You’ll have plant milk, flax seeds, and even dairy-free chocolate chips. It has all the right ingredients without any dairy or animal products that could flare up any of your allergies or intolerances.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free plain flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup plant milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 flax egg (1 x Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 x Tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Optional: 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
You’ll need cocoa powder, sugar, and gluten-free flour in this recipe.

Makes 16 brownies.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Preheating the oven allows it to be the correct temperature before you start baking otherwise your brownies will end up being undercooked. To sufficiently ensure your oven is preheated, allow it to heat for approximately twenty minutes.

2. Line an 8×8 baking pan with greaseproof paper or silicone baking mats. If you don’t want your brownies to stick to the pan. You can start by making the flax ‘egg.’

To make a flax egg, add 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed and 3 Tbsp of water to a small bowl and mix them. Leave to sit for a few minutes until it thickens.

3. Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa powder in a bowl and once it’s fully combined, add in the vegetable oil, flax egg, and plant milk.

4. Add the baking powder and gluten-free flour to the bowl, adding the flour in half a cup to ensure it combines well with the rest of the mix. Combine until you can no longer see bits of flour.

Flaxseed egg
5. Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa powder in a bowl and once it’s fully combined, add in the vegetable oil, flax egg, and plant milk.

6. Add the baking powder and gluten-free flour to the bowl, adding the flour in half a cup to ensure it combines well with the rest of the mix. Combine until you can no longer see bits of flour.

Brownie mix

Then add 3/4 of your dairy-free chocolate chips to the brownie mix. You can choose to mix it in, or just sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the mixture. Pour your mix into your baking pan and smooth down.

You can add your remaining chocolate chips to the top of the mix and press them in.

Vegan brownies ready to bake
7. Now that your job is done, place it in the centre of your pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

8. After 30 minutes have elapsed, check with a toothpick to the centre to ensure it is cooked. If the toothpick comes out clean, then your brownies are done. But if it comes out with brownie mixture sticking on it, then it needs more time. Once it’s done, you can let it cool down if you want to eat it as a snack or eat it warm with ice cream for an indulgent dessert.

Ready to eat vegan brownies

Calories per brownie: 196 calories

Tips for vegan brownies

  • Don’t overbake the brownies. Doing so will leave you with a hard, inedible, mess.
  • Use good-quality cocoa powder and chocolate. The quality of both ingredients will highly determine how good your brownies will be.

If you’re craving more chocolate, you can check out this Home-Made Chocolate Recipe. You can even eat this with your vegan brownies.

FAQ’s for vegan brownies

Does it have to be vegan?

This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free. Making foods dairy, egg, and gluten-free means they’re suitable for a lot more diets and more people can enjoy!

How many calories are in each brownie?

Each brownie contains 196 calories if made to the recipe. If substitutions are made, this will change the calories in each brownie.

Can I substitute the flour?

Plain flour can be substituted on a 1:1 basis if you do not wish to make the recipe gluten-free. If using plain flour, you can also remove the flax-egg.

What’s the best cake tin to use?

We recommend using a 8x8inch non-stick cake tin.

What’s the best way to store the brownies? Can they be frozen and defrosted?

The brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 5 days. If in warmer climates or during summer, I would recommend refrigerating and bringing back to room temperature before eating. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months (they’re extremely delicious when defrosted in the microwave and eaten with ice cream!)

If you want to explore more allergy-friendly recipes, you can visit our dedicated vegan recipe page, where you’ll find lots of tasty desserts, snacks and salads to make at home.

Seasonal Allergies vs COVID-19

In the UK, every year thousands of people suffer from uncomfortable symptoms caused by a reaction to environmental allergens. Seasonal allergies, otherwise known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are a common part of many people’s lives, yet recent circumstances have brought about challenges not faced before.

Following the outbreak of coronavirus, it is now difficult to know whether you’re experiencing hay fever or COVID-19, as symptoms could overlap between the two. As a result, we’ve put together all the information you need to know about seasonal allergies vs COVID-19.

Check out our quick infographic guide below, or read more detail behind specific allergies and symptoms.

Allergies Versus COVID Infographic

Do I have COVID-19 or Seasonal Allergies

Common Allergy Types

Pollen Allergy

Pollen is the most common allergen thought to affect 1 in 5 people during their lifetime. This mainly occurs in Spring and Summer as plants release pollen, resulting in people experiencing an adverse immune response. Sometimes these reactions are to specific plants, such as a tree pollen allergy or grass pollen allergy.

Hay Fever

Hay fever is the body’s allergic response to environmental outdoor or indoor substances (mainly pollen) that are wrongfully identified as harmful. An allergic reaction to pollen is called hay fever.

How long does hay fever last?

Hay fever begins immediately after being exposed to an allergen, and symptoms will continue for as long as you are exposed.

When does hay fever season end?

Depending on where you live in the UK, allergies to pollen tend to occur from March to September, starting with tree pollen first and ending with weed pollen.

Dust Mite Allergy

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic bugs that exist in our homes in warm environments such as bedding, furniture, and carpeting. Although dust mites are perennial allergens and can impact people all year, symptoms can be worse during winter when there is less ventilation.

Mould Allergy

Like dust mites, allergy to mould can be experienced all year round, yet with less ventilation around the home in colder months, there may be more issues during this time.

Pet Dander Allergy

An allergy to pet dander is caused by the body reacting negatively to proteins in dead skin cells that are shed by animals. Suffering from a pet allergy is more common in those who also have asthma or hay fever. There are a few reasons why pet allergies may worsen during winter, including staying inside with your pet for longer, lack of ventilation in the house, and pets having thicker fur with winter coats.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis are consistent whether you are reacting to pollen, dust, mould, or pet dander.

Seasonal allergies symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny, or blocked nose
  • Itchy watering eyes
  • Itchy ears or throat
  • Postnasal drip

COVID-19 Symptoms

People suffering from coronavirus have described experiencing symptoms that range from mild to severe.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • A fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • A continuous cough and sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • A loss or change to taste or smell
  • Aching body or headache

Is it seasonal allergies or COVID-19?

If you are wondering whether you have hay fever or coronavirus, there are distinctions between the two in terms of symptoms. Seasonal allergies tend to induce symptoms that are related to itchiness, such as an itchy nose, eyes, ears, or throat. On the other hand, COVID-19 symptoms are more cold-like so include a fever, headache and a change in taste or smell.

What do I do if I think I have an allergy?

If you are experiencing symptoms of an allergy and want to know what’s causing them, you can order an allergy test online. We’ll send you a simple blood spot test, then in our laboratory we’ll use your sample to test against 38 common allergens including house dust mites, different grasses and different types of dander.

We hope this guide had been useful in helping you differentiate between seasonal allergies and COVID-19. You can also learn more about different types of allergies by accessing tons of resources here.

How an Alcohol Intolerance Test Works

If you notice that you don’t feel well after drinking even a few sips of alcohol, then you might be alcohol intolerant. Alcohol intolerance tends to cause immediate uncomfortable reactions like flushing skin, stuffy nose, and nausea. Of course, an alcohol intolerance test will help figure out if you’re truly intolerant to alcohol or if it’s something else you ate. This guide will discuss the symptoms of alcohol intolerance and how you can complete an intolerance test to discover whether alcohol is the cause of these symptoms for you.

Most people who suffer from alcohol intolerance assume that maybe they got drunk too quickly, but in reality, it’s their bodies that don’t have the right enzymes that help break down the beverage. Alcohol intolerance is sometimes also called alcohol sensitivity.

Causes of alcohol intolerance

Alcohol intolerance is passed through genetics. This means that you can inherit this metabolic disorder {1}. This genetic condition prevents your body from properly breaking down alcohol, which leads to the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. It is possible for you to have this condition even if your parents don’t suffer from alcohol intolerance, as it can be genetically mutated and passed down.

Our bodies are full of enzymes and proteins which break down anything that we consume, be it foods or drinks. Alcohol intolerance is when your body lacks a specific enzyme that helps it metabolize alcohol. So, even if you drink small amounts of alcohol, you will still get the symptoms. When you consume anything with ethanol and have alcohol intolerance, the genetic mutation in your body makes ALDH2 inactive. Because of this, your body can’t convert Acetaldehyde to acetic acid, which in turn leads to Acetaldehyde starting to build up in your blood and tissues, causing intolerance symptoms.

Alcohol intolerance symptoms

Before you test for alcohol intolerance, you need to check your symptoms and see if they are close to the common alcohol intolerance symptoms. Which include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Throbbing headache, fatigue, and other hangover-like symptoms.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) or heart palpitations.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Worsening asthma.

Risk factors of alcohol intolerance

If you find out that you have alcohol intolerance, then it’s likely that someone else in your family has it already or will have it. However, it can affect anyone really, but there are people at a higher risk of being alcohol intolerant like:

  • Being of Asian descent, especially Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
  • Suffering from asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
  • Having an allergy to grains or other food.
  • Having Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Alcohol intolerance test

It is possible to test for alcohol intolerance. You can even get an alcohol Intolerance Test at home if you feel like you don’t have time to visit the doctor’s office. You can purchase an alcohol intolerance test kit online and have it delivered to your doorstep within three days. All you’ll have to do is carefully read the instructions on how to collect the sample. After collecting your sample and storing it safely, you can then send it back to the labs for testing. At the lab, the scientist will not only do an alcohol intolerance test, but they’ll also test for other common intolerances. You will then receive results in your mail within seven days of sending your sample back to the lab.

Blood test for alcohol intolerance

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Our Basic Intolerance Test Kit

When doing a blood test for alcohol intolerance, the lab technicians check for IgG4 antibodies. By looking at IgG4 antibodies, it acts more like preventative screening as it blocks access of IgE to the allergen. IgG4 antibodies concentration is 10,000 times higher than those of IgE; hence binds faster and with greater frequency. Since only 1% of IgG4 is released in cases of allergies, it is easy to observe them when one has an intolerance.

IgG4 antibodies are released with the focus of influencing immune-inflammatory response without releasing histamines. So, in the lab, observing the IgG antibodies helps the scientist know which foods are causing you intolerance symptoms, and that’s how we come up with a list of culprits that your body is sensitive towards. If you feel like you’d like to try out this science for checking for alcohol intolerance, you can order your alcohol Intolerance Test online.

Difference between alcohol intolerance and allergy

Even though some people think these two are the same, the truth is far from that. Alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition, whereas alcohol allergy is an immune response to ethanol or other compounds used to make the liquor. Since alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition, it means this metabolic disorder affects the digestive system preventing your body from metabolizing alcohol like it’s supposed to.

But when it comes to an alcohol allergy, it only means that the immune system is fighting something in alcohol like grains, preservatives, chemicals, or sulfite. Most people who are allergic to alcohol don’t have an ethanol allergy but rather an allergy to the ingredients used to make alcohol.

The symptoms between the two vary slightly, and in rare cases, an alcohol allergy can be life-threatening, whereas intolerance isn’t {2}. An allergy can result in anaphylaxis which always requires the intervention of a medical emergency team, but an intolerance never becomes that extreme.

Alcohol intolerance treatment

Since alcohol intolerance is more of a genetic issue, there’s no cure for it. The best way to treat alcohol intolerance is by avoiding alcohol. If you don’t consume alcohol, you won’t experience the horrible symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Just because you have alcohol intolerance doesn’t prevent you from being an alcohol addict. In fact, you may experience severe consequences compared to the average person suffering from alcohol addiction. If someone you know or you are struggling with alcohol addiction and intolerance, it’s necessary to help them join a treatment program as it’s the first step towards recovery.

When you have alcohol intolerance, you should quit smoking or avoid inhaling second-hand smoke as it worsens the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. You will also need to completely cut out alcohol or keep it at the barest minimum, and if you still choose to keep drinking alcohol, don’t mix it with medication as it will worsen the symptoms. The most advisable advice you will get is to stop drinking alcohol since it can lead to other dire conditions putting your life at a higher risk.

However, you can use antihistamines or antacids to reduce the symptoms of alcohol intolerance. Even though using antihistamines will help, it’s not a good idea if you keep drinking alcohol afterwards. Since the medications help mask the symptoms, it can often lead to more drinking, which will worsen the problem. If you keep drinking alcohol when suffering from alcohol intolerance, you could end up suffering from:

  • Cancer of the mouth and throat (head and neck cancer)
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease

 

Is alcohol intolerance the same as being drunk?

Most people assume that alcohol intolerance means that you are intoxicated easily, even though this is false. Alcohol intolerance doesn’t mean that you become drunk faster after drinking little amounts of alcohol. Instead, it means that you will most likely not drink too much because symptoms will make the whole experience intolerable. Alcohol intolerance doesn’t increase your blood alcohol level.

Final thoughts on how alcohol intolerance test works

Living with alcohol intolerance can be difficult,  which is why the recommended response is to avoid alcohol at all costs. If you are experiencing symptoms after drinking alcohol, you can get your alcohol Intolerance Test kit today to be sure if you’re honestly intolerant or if it’s something else. If the results show that you’re intolerant, you know what to do. Even though most food intolerances are harmless apart from the negative symptoms, alcohol isn’t like that. The more you keep drinking after learning that you’re intolerant to alcohol, the higher your chances are of developing more dire illnesses.

References

  1. Agarwal, D. P., & Goedde, H. W. (2012). Alcohol metabolism, alcohol intolerance, and alcoholism: Biochemical and pharmacogenetic approaches. Springer Science & Business Media. Source: https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Fu-XBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA6&dq=alcohol+intolerance&ots=xSA0WhQlP4&sig=RPcmjNn4rWY0JFkL2xdyIl9Jr9E&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=alcohol%20intolerance&f=false
  2. Gonzalez‐Quintela, A., Vidal, C., & Gude, F. (2004). Alcohol, IgE and allergy. Addiction Biology, 9(3‐4), 195-204. Source: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1369-1600.2004.tb00533.x

Tomato Intolerance Guide

Tomatoes are the most consumed fruits in the world. We use them in making stews, salads, and sauces. It isn’t easy to come across a day’s meal that doesn’t have some form of tomato. They add sweetness, flavour, and acidity to food. Tomatoes are even plenty in processed foods. You can consume tomatoes when processed or in their raw form; either way, you get the nutrients from these plump red fruits. In Britain, 500,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes are consumed per year. Even though tomatoes are widely consumed, some people experience certain problems upon consuming them because they have tomato intolerance.

What is tomato intolerance?

Tomato intolerance is an IgG reaction in your body after consuming this fruit. Symptoms of tomato intolerance typically appear between hours or up to days after consuming the fruit, which can at times make it difficult to pin down the exact food causing the symptoms. If you have tomato intolerance, it means that once you consume it, the body isn’t able to break it down properly and digest it fully, resulting in tomato intolerance symptoms. That’s why most of the tomato intolerance symptoms occur in the stomach causing gastrointestinal symptoms.

The main cause for tomato intolerance could be a lack of certain enzymes in your body to break down the proteins present in tomatoes. Even though tomato intolerance symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, they aren’t as severe as tomato allergies. Sometimes it can prove difficult to know that tomatoes are the cause of your intolerance symptoms because they are found in foods like pizza (in the sauce). It is possible to have tomato sauce intolerance and even raw tomato intolerance. When you have tomatoes in the sauce, it can be hard to know which food is causing symptoms because the first culprits that will come to mind are wheat or cheese. These two are common allergens, and most people will assume they are the cause of the intolerance symptoms.

Because of how long tomato intolerance symptoms take to show up, the easiest way to determine what’s causing your intolerance is by using an Intolerance Test. This will not only test for your intolerance towards tomatoes but also check for other common intolerances like dairy, wheat, eggs, and others.

When it comes to tomato intolerance, there are different styles of sensitivities that could be in play. We have IgG reactions which are the most common in food intolerances, but the symptoms can also be due to alkaloids sensitivity or reactions to acid content.

Difference between tomato intolerance and allergy

Signs of tomato intolerance include gastrointestinal issues, while allergies are an immune reaction to proteins in tomatoes. It is common for people with tomato and nut allergies to have eczema. Tomatoes and nuts are common eczema irritants. If you experience symptoms like eczema after consuming tomatoes, it is more probable that you have a tomato allergy rather than intolerance{1}.

Most of the time, symptoms of tomato intolerance pass when you have a bowel movement. But if you have an allergy, the symptoms tend to stay for up to weeks (like eczema) before they can clear up after you’ve consistently taken medication. Most of the time, signs of food intolerance happen when you consume tomatoes in large quantities. Some people can consume a certain quantity of tomatoes without getting any side effects. But when it comes to tomato allergy, any amount of tomato you consume causes the symptoms. Some people have severe tomato allergies, and their symptoms flare up just by touching them.

Tomato intolerance is less severe compared to tomato allergies. Some people suffer from severe tomato allergies. Even though severe tomato allergy is uncommon, it leads to symptoms like urticaria/angioedema, oral allergy syndrome, dermatitis, rhinitis, and abdominal pain{2}.

Alkaloid sensitivity

Tomatoes belong to the Nightshade family, which contain compounds called alkaloids and can come in the form of solanine. The amount of alkaloids in the nightshade family is quite low, but you’ll still realise that your digestive system cannot digest it. If you’re sensitive to other foods in the nightshade family, you will find yourself experiencing tomato intolerance. Other nightshade family fruits and vegetables to look out for include:

  • White potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Paprika
  • Goji berries
  • Bell peppers

Acid reflux and heartburn

Since tomatoes contain some level of acidity, you may suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn. This takes place when stomach acids go back up the oesophagus and cause a lot of discomfort in the chest area. If you experience this after consuming either canned or fresh tomatoes, it is important to avoid tomatoes altogether.

IgG tomato sensitivity

IgG tomato sensitivity happens when your body produces antibodies that react to the tomatoes causing inflammation. This results in gas, bloating, and other digestive issues. The inflammation can happen anywhere between 3-72 hours after eating tomatoes. Even though IgG tomato sensitivity can be uncomfortable, it’s not as life-threatening as a tomato allergy. Some people with tomato allergies are so sensitive that they get symptoms simply by touching the fruit.

Symptoms of tomato intolerance

Tomato intolerance symptoms can range from mild to severe for different people. The most common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Nausea
  • Skin rashes or eczema
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Tomato intolerance test

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Our Complete Intolerance Test Kit.

The best way to know whether you have tomato intolerance is by taking an Intolerance Test. This test will look for tomato intolerance and other common allergens. Once you’ve sent your sample to the labs, you will get back your results within a week with a list of your intolerances telling you foods you need to avoid. If you feel a little concerned about cutting out tomatoes, you can consult with your doctor. After you’ve cut off tomatoes from your diet for a given period, your doctor will help you reintroduce them back in small quantities in a bid to make your body tolerate the fruit.

Foods to avoid if you suffer from tomato intolerance

You’ll need to eliminate certain foods from your diet if your results show that you have tomato intolerance. These include:

  • Raw tomatoes
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Ketchup and BBQ sauce

Food substitutes for tomato intolerance

We use tomatoes in pasta, soups, and salads. But you can easily swap these for:

  • Beetroots- To add sweetness to salads and be a great base for pasta sauces.
  • Grapes- You can add grapes wherever you would add your cherry tomatoes.
  • Gooseberries- Even though an uncommon ingredient, it can be a great substitute for tomatillos in salsa verdes, which you put on your tacos.
  • Carrots- You can use carrots as substitutes, same as beetroots.

Final thoughts on tomato intolerance

Tomatoes are commonly used in daily meal preps, but they aren’t worth consuming if they cause you discomfort. The above food substitutes contain lots of nutrients to compensate for what you’ll be missing out on once you remove tomatoes from your diet. If you want to improve your tolerance of tomatoes, you can consult your doctor about that. Otherwise, your doctor will recommend you stay away from tomatoes for a while. You will both work to increase the number of tomatoes in your diet slowly until you know the number of tomatoes you can tolerate in your diet or possibly completely tolerate tomatoes. If you still haven’t taken your Intolerance Test, this will be beneficial to complete so that you know for sure if you’re intolerant to tomatoes or other foods commonly paired with tomatoes.

References

  1. Patel T, et al. (2010). Food allergy in patients with eczema. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-3083.2010.03858.x
  2. Zacharisen, M. C., Elms, N. P., & Kurup, V. P. (2002). Severe tomato allergy (Lycopersicon esculentum). Allergy and asthma proceedings, 23(2), 149–152. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12001794/

Understanding Chocolate Allergies

Considering how delicious and popular chocolate is, it is no surprise that you can find it in various foods, snacks, desserts, and drinks. However, chocolate can cause problems for those people who are allergic to it. A chocolate allergy is quite rare, and most people who experience such symptoms often do so because of the other ingredients found in this yummy snack.

Chocolate is a mixture of various ingredients. For example, you need cocoa powder (a processed version of cacao), sugar, fats, and emulsifiers (like soy lecithin). You will also find milk as an ingredient in most chocolates. When you’re allergic to chocolate, it will take a bit of testing to nail down the exact ingredient causing those reactions.

Can you be allergic to chocolate?

Cocoa contains a lot more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. The antioxidant effects of cocoa may directly influence insulin resistance and, in turn, reduce the risk for diabetes. Cocoa can also protect the nerves from injury, protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by UV radiation, and improve cognitive functions and mood {1}. Despite its many benefits, some people have to avoid this great food item.

You’re most likely to be allergic to chocolate if you’re allergic to cocoa’s primary source. But, it is also possible to be allergic to chocolate because of the ingredients in that specific chocolate bar. You will find that most chocolates include ingredients like nuts, milk, or even wheat. These ingredients can set off an allergic reaction. For example, it is common to find those people with celiac disease reacting to chocolate. The most common theory to justify this is cross-reactivity.

Sometimes, you get symptoms after consuming chocolate because you are already taking some prescribed drugs. Chocolate doesn’t interact well with certain drugs like Prozac (fluoxetine). The symptoms you observe that you may think are a chocolate allergy could be Prozac and similar medications. You should ensure that your doctor is aware of your medication before you have your allergy test. It is essential to check into this if your test comes out negative and you take these medications.

Chocolate allergy symptoms

Chocolate allergy can cause diverse reactions ranging from mild to life-threatening. If you experience adverse reactions when consuming chocolate, it is better to stay away from it. The most common symptoms of chocolate allergy include:

  • Migraines
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps
  • Swelling
  • Cough
  • Itching, hives, or chocolate allergy rash
  • Anaphylaxis

However, it is more common to experience chocolate sensitivity or intolerance. It could be because you are sensitive to cocoa or other ingredients like amino acid tyramine. When you have a chocolate intolerance, you can eat small amounts of it without experiencing symptoms. However, a large amount of chocolate consumed when you have a chocolate intolerance can always result in gastrointestinal symptoms and other symptoms like:

  • Acne
  • Bloating or gas
  • Constipation
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Skin rash or contact dermatitis
  • Upset stomach

Some people experience certain symptoms after eating chocolate because of its caffeine. If you have caffeine intolerance or sensitivity, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Shakiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fast or uneven heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Risk factors of chocolate allergy

Even though most people who get an allergic reaction to chocolate have it because of cocoa, others can have the same experience with various ingredients. People have an allergic reaction to chocolate because oif ingredients like:

  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, or peanuts
  • Wheat

Suppose you get allergy symptoms after eating any of the listed common ingredients. In that case, you’re more likely to have an allergic reaction when eating chocolates because they are common ingredients in this sweet snack. Chocolate can also cause problems for people who have nickel allergies. Statistically, about 15% of the population is allergic to nickel which is also present in dark and milk chocolate, cocoa powder, and many nuts that we mostly find in chocolate bars. Chocolate is often contaminated with heavy metal lead and cadmium.

Alternatives to chocolate

If you’re allergic to chocolate, you need to educate yourself and read the ingredients when shopping carefully. When eating out, you’ll need to inform the person cooking or the chef at the restaurant about your concerns and allergies so they don’t cook using ingredients that flare up your allergies. If you’re sure about your allergy to cacao, you will also need to check out candies and sweets that contain it as an ingredient to avoid it.

When you’re sensitive or allergic to it, Carob’s best alternative to chocolate isOne alternative to chocolate is Carob – a legume-like pod which is chocolate in colour and taste. So, you can use the chocolate alternative Carob in any recipes that call for chocolate. Carob is a healthier version of chocolate since it’s high in fibre, low in sugar and fat, and caffeine-free.

If you’re sensitive to chocolate milk, you can use dark chocolate in your recipes as it doesn’t list milk as an ingredient. However, some people report having reactions to dark chocolate because even though they don’t list milk as an ingredient, some companies still put milk in these chocolates, so it’s better to make sure it’s milk-free{2}. The simplest way around having a nut allergy or milk allergy is by buying a dairy-free and nut-free chocolate. Otherwise, if your problem is with the chocolate itself, you can use Carob, a healthy alternative to chocolate.

Chocolate allergy test

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Our Basic Allergy Test Kit

If you have the above symptoms every time you consume chocolate, you might think it’s a chocolate allergy which is a great assumption. Still, we advise you to see your doctor and let them rule out any other underlying diseases. If there aren’t any, then you can take an Allergy Test. The allergy test will look into chocolate and other common allergens found in chocolate like nuts and milk. It is simple since you’ll order a test online and receive it at your home in 1-3 days.

Suppose the test comes out negative and you are still experiencing symptoms similar to those mentioned above. In that case, you can talk to your doctor or even check the prescriptions you have and inquire to your doctor whether they could be causing the symptoms. But if you tend to have gastrointestinal issues after consuming chocolate, you can take an Intolerance Test. It will help you determine whether your body is intolerant to cocoa or other ingredients in chocolate. Once you get your results, you should know that it’s safer to keep off any chocolates or ingredients that might cause you to have allergy symptoms. It is better to use the healthy chocolate alternative, Carob.

Precautions to take when suffering from chocolate allergy

If you’re sensitive or allergic to chocolate or other ingredients found in this sweet treat, you need to keep away from nuts, milk, and other chocolate products. At restaurants, always ask for meals free of chocolate, especially in your desserts. When grocery shopping at the supermarket, you will also need to be extra careful when reading ingredients so you won’t consume any foods with chocolate or cocoa.

It is also common to find chocolate in candy bars and other unexpected places. You might discover cocoa as an ingredient in flavoured coffee, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Some jams and marmalades also contain cocoa. A savoury Mexican sauce called mole also contains cocoa. You might also find it as an ingredient in some laxatives.

Final thoughts on chocolate allergies

Chocolate allergies are very rare to find. Most of the time, people reacting to chocolate always become sensitive to certain ingredients used in making the snack. Sensitivities or chocolate intolerances are more common compared to a true chocolate allergy. The easiest way to diagnose a chocolate allergy or intolerance is by taking an Allergy and Intolerance Test. This test will check for both allergy and intolerances to chocolate, but it will also check for other common allergen foods, including milk and nuts. Grab your test kit today and know your diagnosis. If you experience severe reactions to chocolate like anaphylaxis, it is wise to carry an EpiPen with you at all times.

References

  1. Katz, D. L., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 15(10), 2779–2811. https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2010.3697
  2. Dark chocolate and milk allergies. (2017). Source: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/allergic-milk-some-dark-chocolate-labeled-dairy-free-may-still-contain-milk