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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

Why Is My Stomach Bloating After Eating?

Stomach bloating after eating is quite common, but it could be a matter of concern in some cases. Between 10% and 25% of healthy individuals complain of occasional abdominal bloating. Statistics show that about 75% experience symptoms that range from moderate to severe. About 10% say they experience it regularly. Among those diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it may be as much as 90% {1}. Up to 75% of women experience bloating before and during their period. Only 50% of people who experience bloating also report a distended abdomen.

Bloating is when you feel tightness, fullness, or pressure in your stomach. Some people have bloating accompanied by a swollen stomach while others don’t. When bloated, it can either be intensely painful or mildly uncomfortable. In most cases, bloating goes away after a while, while in others, it tends to be a recurring problem, especially if they have other underlying conditions. The most common causes of recurring bloating are digestive issues and hormone fluctuations.

What causes stomach bloating after eating?

Many foods and conditions can result in your stomach bloating after eating. Most of the time, it’s not a matter of concern, and all you need to do is adjust your diet. Below we will explain the possible causes of a bloated stomach after eating and explain further how to prevent them. Stomach bloating issues could be as simple as eating too much food way too fast or more complicated issues like intolerance and digestive issues.

Excessive fbire intake

Fibre is a plant-based carbohydrate that helps in various functions in the body, such as regulating blood sugar levels and sugar consumption. However, fibre cannot be digested, which, when taken in excessive amounts, produces too much gas, which results in stomach pain and bloating after eating. A heart-healthy diet is supposed to have enough fibre. To have high amounts of fibre without feeling constipated, you need to gradually increase your fibre intake, allowing your body to adjust. According to research, reducing fibre in a diet can relieve bloating. Foods high in fibre include:

  • Beans
  • Whole grain oats
  • Fruits, such as apples and oranges
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts

Food intolerances and food allergies

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Complete Intolerance & Allergy Test Kit

Bloating and stomach pain after eating is a common symptom of food intolerance or allergy. It is especially common in all food intolerances. When your body rejects or reacts to any food you consume due to allergies or intolerances, it leads to gas production in the gastrointestinal tract and gets trapped, leading to bloating. The biggest culprits of bloating are gluten and wheat. If you have an intolerance to either or both, you will most likely have symptoms of stomach bloating and pain after eating.

To get a clarification on which foods are causing you to have these symptoms, you can get yourself an intolerance test online. If you aren’t sure whether this could be because of bloating or allergies, you can get an Allergy and Intolerance Test that will give you a list of foods you’re either allergic or intolerant to. Avoiding these foods or the intolerances and limiting them, you won’t experience stomach bloating after eating.

Fatty foods

You need fats since they are a necessary part of a balanced diet, which means sticking to mostly unsaturated healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and avocado. Your body needs these healthy fats to make cell walls, nerve tissue (like your brain), and hormones. The side effect of eating fats is that they take longer to digest, so the fats move slowly through the digestive tract, and if you’ve consumed too many fats, you’ll end up bloated. You’ll mostly find that your stomach will feel like it wants to burst out of your clothes after eating a meal loaded with fried foods. Overall, reducing fried foods from your diet can improve your digestion and overall health. Even though fats are an important energy source, it is better to consume healthy fats.

Fructose

It is difficult for the body to break down fructose compared to other sugars. Because of its difficulty breaking down this type of sugar, it results in gas, bloating, and pain. Fructose is naturally found in dried fruit, onions, honey, and garlic. In processed foods, you may find some foods contain this sugar, causing digestive issues like bloating.

Weight gain

If you’ve recently added ten pounds or more, you may notice that you get a little more constipated than usual{2}. That’s because, when you gain weight, most of it settles around your belly, taking up space and leaving little space for the stomach to expand. So, when you gain weight, it hinders your normal digestive processes as there won’t be enough space for digestion to take place well. At times, weight gain can also result in water retention, making you feel bloated with fluids in your stomach and elsewhere.

Consuming too much salt

If you have a heavy hand when putting salt in your food, that could be what causes stomach bloating after eating. Even though your body needs salt, people consume more salt than is necessary most of the time. Excessive salt causes the body to hold onto water, resulting in long-term health issues like high blood pressure. Always check your foods for sodium levels since most fast foods come already seasoned. When cooking at home, you can avoid using too much salt by adding flavorful herbs. It would be best to reduce the amount of packaged processed foods you consume.

Limit carbonated drinks

The bubbles in champagne, beer, and soda are mostly gas which is a major culprit of bloating. As you consume these drinks, the carbon dioxide gas present in them builds up in your body which can easily lead to bloating, especially if you drink them hastily. Sometimes you may burp, but there will remain some gas, and once it enters your digestive system, it stays there until you pass it. Most carbonated drinks are also full of sugar which may retain water, further making you feel bloated. The best way to reduce the consumption of these drinks is by drinking water instead.

Eating too fast

Normally, we swallow air when eating food. But if you eat it quickly, you will keep swallowing more air, leading to gas retention. Like carbonated drinks, once gas enters your intestines, there’s no going back until you pass it. Meanwhile, you’ll feel bloated. It takes your stomach approximately twenty minutes to send a message to your brain saying that you’re full. So, before this message is passed along, you will have already overate and feel bloated. To beat bloating, you should take your time when eating a meal.

FODMAPs

These are carbohydrates digested near the end of your intestine, where bacteria feed on them. Since all bodies are different, this may cause fluid and gas buildup, bloating, and stomach cramps in some people. FODMAPs are in some grains, dairy, vegetables, and fruits. Some people experience stomach pain and bloating after eating foods labelled as FODMAPs.

Hormones

Premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, can cause some side effects in women like achiness, tiredness, and irritability the week before periods. PMS also makes the body retain water which often results in you feeling bloated. Most women report experiencing bloating before or during the periods because of hormonal fluctuations. When oestrogen spikes and progesterone decreases in the body, you will notice much bloating since oestrogen causes fluid retention. During the menstrual period, the uterus size increases, taking up space and causing bloating.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

This condition occurs when there is an overflow of gut bacteria from the colon to the small intestine. The overgrowth of this bacteria tends to overwhelm the other bacteria meant to balance it out. Some of the bacteria are to absorb gases produced by the others. But when there is an imbalance, this cycle is thrown out of balance. When suffering from SIBO, you will most likely experience stomach bloating after eating very little, and sometimes your stomach will bloat for no reason whatsoever.

How to prevent stomach bloating after eating

If your stomach bloating is caused by foods you’ve eaten and not underlying illnesses, there are various ways you can help your body dispose of the food and clear bloating. Bloating caused by hormonal issues and food tend to ease up within a few hours or even days. Constipation won’t clear up until you’ve pooped. Exercise, water, and certain herbal teas may help you poop and get rid of bloating. There are various ways to relieve bloating. These include:

  • Herbal teas- Some herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, turmeric, and fennel can help aid digestion and process gas. Dandelion tea will help you relieve water retention if you have water retention.
  • Antacids are great for relieving inflammation in the digestive tract, helping you pass gas easily. Antacids often contain active ingredients like simethicone which helps group small gas bubbles together and eventually leads to passing this gas.
  • Probiotics are great for rebalancing gut bacteria. Some probiotics will help you digest food better and even absorb excess gas. You must take the probiotics consistently for a few days or weeks to notice a difference.
  • Peppermint oil is naturally antispasmodic, which means they help your intestinal muscles relax. When your intestinal muscles have relaxed, you can easily pass poop and gas. It is especially good for you if you’re suffering from motility issues.
  • Psyllium husks are a fibre supplement that you can use to help you poop regularly. When getting started on these supplements, you need to drink lots of water and introduce them gradually.
  • Magnesium supplements are good at relaxing intestinal muscles and neutralizing stomach acid.
  • Regular exercise, especially focusing on your core, will help you become stronger and combat abdominal bloating.

Final thoughts on stomach bloating after eating

Even though bloating is quite common, it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying condition. You need to see your doctor as soon as you can so they can determine whether you have any underlying issues that may be causing excessive bloating. Otherwise, if you can’t find any underlying diseases and only experience stomach bloating after eating very little (and maybe specific foods), it may be due to food intolerance. It is common to have symptoms like gas, constipation, and bloating when you have a food intolerance. Get yourself an Intolerance Test kit today to know which specific foods you need to avoid if you want to curb bloating.

References

  1. Lacy BE, Cangemi D, Vazquez-Roque M. Management of Chronic Abdominal Distension and Bloating. (https://www.cghjournal.org/article/S1542-3565(20%2930433-X/fulltext) Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2021;19:219-231. Accessed 8/6/2021.
  2.  Sullivan, SM. Functional Abdominal Bloating with Distention. (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/721820/) International Scholarly Research Notices. 2012;721820. Accessed 8/6/2021.

Identifying Food Intolerance Symptoms

Food intolerance happens when your digestive system is sensitive to certain foods and can’t tolerate them. Food intolerances affect around 15-20% of the population {1}. Most of the time, you will find that food intolerances are rampant in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), where most people who have IBS tend to suffer from food intolerances.

Sometimes people believe a food intolerance or sensitivity is the same as an allergy even though the two are completely different. Food allergies stem from the immune system, while food intolerances affect the digestive system. According to research, it is also evident that more women suffer from food intolerance compared to men {2}. We will discuss the symptoms of food intolerance, including potential causes and how to get a diagnosis.

Food intolerance symptoms

The severity of food intolerance symptoms varies from one person to the other. When it comes to food intolerance, the amount of food that one consumes determines the severity of the symptoms. Symptoms of food intolerance take a while to emerge. It may take several hours to occur after eating the food and may last up to several days or hours. Some food intolerance symptoms may overlap with those of food allergy. The most known symptoms of food intolerance include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach upset
  • Migraine and headache
  • Runny nose
  • Malaise, which is a feeling of being under the weather
  • Skin rashes and itching

How long do food intolerance symptoms last?

Most of the time, after you’ve eaten the offending food, it can take between a few hours for the symptoms to set in. but in other cases, the symptoms may take up to a few days to show. It gets hard to pinpoint the offending food since you’d have eaten various meals in such cases. It is important to note that food intolerance symptoms can be delayed for up to 48 hours.

When you consume a food that your digestive system is sensitive toward, the symptoms will take some time to pass. These symptoms will pass when the food you’re sensitive to is out of your system.

What causes food intolerance?

Experts aren’t sure why there are people who develop food intolerances. But the most common reason is that their bodies can’t make enough of a certain enzyme that helps break down food or a specific ingredient. For example, people with lactose intolerance lack a necessary enzyme called lactase to digest a specific food. Over the years, the number of people suffering from food intolerances has risen.

What experts are sure of is that some illnesses increase your chances of suffering from food intolerances like:

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

There are common food intolerances. These include:

  1. Lactose intolerance- Lactose is a sugar found in milk and dairy products. When your body lacks the enzyme lactase to break down lactose sugar, you become lactose intolerant. The enzyme lactase is supposed to break down lactose sugars into small molecules for easy absorption into the body. The symptoms of lactose intolerance are similar to any other food intolerance symptoms.
  2. Fructose intolerance- Fructose is a simple sugar present in vegetables, fruits, and sweeteners like honey, corn syrup, and agave. When fructose intolerance results from a lack of certain enzymes, that means it’s hereditary. Most of the time, fructose intolerance results from the body lacking a certain protein that allows it to absorb sugar from the intestines. When someone has fructose intolerance, the fructose in foods ferments in the gut, leading to fullness, gas, cramps, diarrhoea, and gas.
  3. Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease- Gluten is a name for proteins found in cereals like tye, wheat, and barley. Celiac disease is an autoimmune response to you consuming gluten. However, the symptoms of gluten intolerance, wheat intolerance/allergy, and celiac disease all have similar symptoms. The way these diseases affect the body varies, but it all leads to eliminating the culprits from the diet. For example, with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, one has to remove gluten from their diet, while with wheat allergy or intolerance, one has to eliminate wheat from their diet.
  4. Salicylate intolerance- Salicylates are compounds found in vegetables, fruits, spices, and herbs. Salicylates are also present in artificial flavouring and preservatives. Most of the time, people can tolerate salicylates in moderate amounts. However, some people have a reduced intolerance and can’t consume items like chewing gum, candies, or toothpaste that contain salicylates.
  5. Food poisoning- Sometimes, naturally occurring chemicals can cause a toxic effect resulting in intolerance symptoms. For example, when you eat beans that aren’t fully cooked, it can cause digestive issues since it contains aflatoxins when not fully cooked. On the other hand, the ingestion of certain types of spoiled fish can lead to scombroid fish poisoning since it contains high levels of histamines. High levels of histamines in foods mimic allergic reactions.

Food intolerance diagnosis

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Our Complete Intolerance Test Kit

If you think you might have an intolerance to any foods in your diet due to the repetition of certain food intolerance symptoms, then you may need to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will help you eliminate any underlying diseases or conditions that could cause the repeat of these symptoms. Once you see a repeat of the symptoms afterwards, you can get yourself an Intolerance Test.

An intolerance test will help you know what foods you’re intolerant towards. After you realize that you may be intolerant to certain foods, you will need to eliminate them from your diet with the help of your doctor, and you both can work out a way to reintroduce them back into your diet and make your body tolerant to them again. Being intolerant to many foods in your diet can be difficult as it limits what you can and cannot eat. But a nutritionist will help you realize which supplements you should take to help you prevent any deficiencies.

Sometimes it gets difficult to diagnose food intolerance based on the symptoms because of how similar food intolerance symptoms are to IBS. Of course, a doctor can let you know the difference, and that’s why we recommend you visit a doctor first to rule out such a diagnosis before you start checking food intolerance.

The type of test we use in our labs to check for intolerances measures the levels of IgG antibodies in your blood. If the antibodies are high when introduced to certain allergens, then that means you’re intolerant to that food.

How to treat or manage food intolerance symptoms

The best way for people with intolerance to live free from food intolerance and symptoms is by avoiding the problematic foods by completely cutting them from their diet. Once you’ve known the foods that cause intolerance symptoms, eliminate them from your diet. You can keep a food diary to ensure you don’t consume them at all.

However, some people can tolerate small amounts of the culprit foods in their diet without causing any food intolerance symptoms. But if you suffer from food intolerance symptoms, you can get over-the-counter medicines like antacids or antidiarrheals to help. But if you have specific intolerances like lactose, you can buy lactase enzymes from the store. Lactase pills can be consumed with milk to help break the milk sugars down for easy absorption without any complications. Alternatively, you can drink lactose-free milk.

Final thoughts on food intolerance

Food intolerances tend to be lifelong. You can easily manage the symptoms by cutting back on the problematic foods or consuming them in trace amounts. Even though food intolerances are inconvenient, they aren’t life-threatening. You can also take supplements to aid digestion. Otherwise, if you have food intolerance symptoms and are unsure which food is the culprit, you can purchase your Intolerance Test today and have it delivered to your home within three days. Afterwards, you will get your results within a week of sending your sample back to the lab. You don’t need to live with these symptoms when it is easy to know which foods you need to eliminate from your diet.

References

  1. Lomer, M. C. E. (2015). The aetiology, diagnosis, mechanisms and clinical evidence for food intolerance. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 41(3), 262-275. Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/apt.13041
  2. Young, E., Stoneham, M. D., Petruckevitch, A., Barton, J., & Rona, R. (1994). A population study of food intolerance. The Lancet, 343(8906), 1127-1130. Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673694902348

Which Foods Cause Itching?

There are many health problems that can result in itchy skin. One among them is a food allergy. Some foods cause skin itching when consumed, whether in large amounts or trace amounts. Food allergies result from exposure to specific proteins in foods that the immune system mistakes for harmful substances. In turn, the immune system triggers the production of antibodies to fight this “harmful” substance which results in allergy symptoms.

Food allergies to common allergenic foods can cause itching, including even triggering dermatitis. Some people have severe reactions to certain foods that even touching them triggers skin reactions. When your skin is affected due to allergies, it may result in redness, swelling, a rash, or itchiness. Skin reactions like itchiness can take a few hours to days to appear.

Milk

Many children are allergic to milk. It could be cow’s milk, goat milk, or even breast milk. Whey and casein are the most common proteins found in milk and are the culprits that cause this allergic reaction. Milk allergy is quite different from lactose intolerance. That’s because lactose intolerance doesn’t trigger the immune system like a milk allergy, but causes digestive problems instead. A milk allergy is caused by an allergy to the proteins in milk, whereas lactose intolerance is your body’s inability to process the sugar lactose.

The most common milk allergy symptoms include digestive problems, hives, and wheezing. Some symptoms may take longer to manifest in babies, like loose stool, colic, and abdominal cramps. Many children outgrow milk allergy later in life, but not all do. Milk being a common allergen, it affects about 0.5%-3% of children in developed countries by age 1.

Soy

Even though soy allergy is most common in children and infants, it can also affect adults. Soy allergies affect around 0.5% of the population. Soy is used in baby formula, and other processed foods like edamame, tofu, tempeh, and miso contain soy. Soy allergy is a result of the protein found in this legume.

Of the several allergy symptoms soy allergy can cause, atopic dermatitis is one. It has side effects like itching and inflammation of the skin. You can also experience small raised red bumps on the skin that can be very itchy. If your child has a soy allergy, they’ll probably outgrow them, but not all do.

Tree nuts

Tree nuts are any nuts that grow on a tree, including pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnut, Brazil nuts, and walnuts. It is common to suffer from tree nut allergy as it affects approximately 4.9% of the world’s population {1}. Tree nuts are one of the many food allergies that can easily result in life-threatening anaphylaxis. Other severe reactions to tree nuts include eczema, asthma, and hay fever.

Itchy skin is among the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction in tree nut allergies. The most common proteins in tree nuts that cause an allergic reaction include 2S albumins, legumin, oleosins, and legumin. One can be allergic to some types of tree nuts but not all, but most of the time, due to cross-contamination, it is better to avoid all the tree nuts to be safe.

Eggs

Since egg allergies are common in children, 70% of them are known to outgrow this allergy. An egg allergy is an immune system reaction to certain proteins present in egg whites and egg yolks. The most common egg allergy symptom is hives which cause red, itchy, and swollen skin. People with eczema also report an itchy skin condition after consuming eggs.

While some people may be allergic to chicken eggs only, others need to avoid all types of eggs. It is also necessary to note that certain vaccines may cause problems if you have egg allergies as they contain small amounts of egg proteins. It is necessary to consult your doctor about your egg allergy before getting any vaccines.

Fish and Shellfish

Unlike most allergies, fish allergy develops when one is in adulthood. Up to 40% of people with fish allergy report only suffering from it after they have grown up. An allergy to finned fish like tuna or salmon is quite different to that of shellfish. The main cause of fish allergy is parvalbumins. Some people may be allergic to certain kinds of fish, but not others, but Doctors advise keeping away from all types of fish due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Shellfish are fish with hard shells like lobsters, squids, shrimps, oysters, and crabs. The main cause of shellfish allergy is a protein known as tropomyosin {2}. In most cases, people with fish and shellfish allergies experience symptoms like hives, itchiness, and skin rashes. But in severe cases, others experience anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening.

Wheat

Wheat is among the most cultivated crops worldwide. It is a common ingredient in most baked goods, desserts, and unsuspecting food items like soy sauce and hotdogs. A wheat allergy varies from gluten allergy and celiac disease. In wheat allergy, the reactions one gets are due to the proteins found in wheat. People with asthma and eczema are more prone to developing a wheat allergy.

As an allergen, wheat allergy affects about 1% of children and adults. When you’re suffering from wheat allergy, it is necessary to read labels carefully since wheat is an ingredient in most unsuspecting processed items like soups, salad dressing, and processed meats. Wheat allergy can cause problems like itching, hives, digestive problems, and respiratory issues.

Peanuts

Peanut allergy is the most common and most dangerous food allergy. Specific proteins in peanuts can trigger peanut allergies in various people. According to research, having asthma increases your chances of having severe allergic reactions to peanuts if you have a peanut allergy. Sometimes people with peanut allergies can consume highly processed peanut oil, but not cold-pressed ones. Otherwise, it is wise to avoid all forms of peanuts so as not to get any symptoms.

Peanut allergy symptoms include skin rashes, wheezing, swelling under the skin, digestive issues and shortness of breath. However, in severe cases, peanut allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening symptom. Besides getting peanut allergy symptoms from eating peanuts, the same reaction can happen from inhaling peanut dust, peanut oil or cross-contamination from other foods.

Sesame

Sesame seeds are the ninth most common cause of food allergy. The symptoms of sesame allergy can range from mild skin rashes to severe anaphylaxis. Sesame is used in oils, cosmetics, food, medicine, and pet food. Check food labels closely to spot sesame as an ingredient.

Tomatoes

If you’re sensitive to Balsam of Peru, it’s most likely that tomatoes will trigger contact dermatitis. Tomato allergies cause itching and hives. Sometimes they cause these symptoms because of oral allergy syndrome (OAS). If you get an itchy mouth and skin after eating tomatoes, you’re probably suffering from OAS, which is a cross-reactivity of allergens found in some plants and pollen. If you are allergic to tomatoes because of the Balsam of Peru, then you’ll also have the same reaction to spices like cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla.

Citrus fruits

Citrus allergies mostly affect the mouth, tongue and lips, causing them to itch. If you are allergic to citrus fruits, it’s due to cross-reacting allergens like in tomatoes leading to OAS. If you’re also allergic to Balsam of Peru, you should also avoid citrus fruits. It causes dermatitis flare-ups as it comes second after tomatoes which tend to cause the most flare-ups.

Foods with nickel

Even though we know nickel to be in jewellery, you can also find it in foods like beans, peas, lentils, soya beans, whole wheat bread, oats, and some canned foods. The most prevalent symptom of nickel allergy is a skin rash on the hands.

Spices

Even though it might come as an uninvited shock to many, spices can also cause itchiness. Spice allergies can result in skin rashes and itching. They can also cause itching in the mouth, primarily due to OAS.

Treatment for itchiness caused by foods

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Our Basic Allergy Test Kit

First off, you need to determine the real cause of your itchiness. If it’s because of a certain food, you can take an Allergy Test to prove your theory further. Before you take an allergy test, it is best to consult with your doctor to rule other culprits out.. There could be other underlying illnesses causing the same itchiness symptoms you’re getting. But once everything’s out on the table, take your test and prove which foods you need to eliminate from your diet.

Final thoughts on foods causing itchiness

Itchiness is a common symptom of food allergy. After consuming certain foods, you might need to take an Allergy Test if you get these symptoms. If your symptoms seem to overlap with those of food intolerance, you can also take an Allergy and Intolerance Test that checks for both. You won’t regret getting this knowledge. Sometimes food allergies can be severe, putting your life at risk. Knowing which foods you eliminate from your diet is best before it gets too complicated.

References

  1. Geiselhart, S., Hoffmann-Sommergruber, K., & Bublin, M. (2018). Tree nut allergens. Molecular immunology, 100, 71–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2018.03.011
  2. Pedrosa, M., Boyano-Martínez, T., García-Ara, C., & Quirce, S. (2015). Shellfish Allergy: a Comprehensive Review. Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology, 49(2), 203–216. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12016-014-8429-8

Casein Intolerance Guide

Dairy consumption is high worldwide, in that up to 36% of people drink two to three glasses of milk daily. Dairy is recommended as part of a healthy diet because of how nutritious and beneficial it can be. However, dairy can have negative side effects on you, especially if you’re casein intolerant. Casein is a protein present in milk and other dairy products that contain high amounts of protein. The most common type of intolerance we link to dairy milk is lactose intolerance which has similar symptoms to casein intolerance. Casein intolerance tends to result in gastrointestinal symptoms {1}.

Causes of casein intolerance

Most food intolerances result from the body reacting to the proteins present in those foods or the body lacking the enzymes to break down certain proteins. The main cause for casein intolerance symptoms is the body’s reaction to casein protein. You will find casein in dairy foods containing high proteins like cheese, kefir, ice cream, and yoghurt. But when it comes to dairy products like butter and ghee, people with casein intolerance can still tolerate these products.

But if you’re allergic to casein, you should stay away from aunty foods that contain even trace amounts of this protein. Casein intolerance is the body’s reaction to casein protein by releasing IgG antibodies. The symptoms of casein intolerance tend to get delayed for up to 72 hours sometimes, whereas allergy symptoms always show up almost immediately. People have casein intolerance because casein accounts for 80% of proteins in cow’s milk, in contrast with 40% in human milk. So, humans can’t tolerate high levels of casein.

What are the symptoms of casein intolerance?

Casein intolerance symptoms vary in severity from one person to the next. Because our bodies take a while to digest casein, the symptoms can delay for up to a few days, which makes it difficult to figure out what you’re intolerant to. But the most common symptoms of casein intolerance you’ll observe include:

  • Diarrhoea, gas, and constipation 
  • Stomach ache, bloating, and cramps
  • Hives, eczema, and rashes
  • Joint pain and fatigue
  • Behavioural changes

Casein intolerance vs lactose intolerance

These two relate to each other because they both stem from consuming dairy products. Lactose is a carbohydrate (milk sugar) found in milk, while casein is a protein found in milk. The two vary because of the way the intolerance symptoms show up. Even though the symptoms are similar, the body reactivity isn’t the same. Casein intolerance occurs because the body finds it difficult to break down the protein, thus causing an inflammatory response by reeling IgG antibodies.

But in the case of lactose intolerance, the symptoms occur because the body lacks the necessary enzyme (lactase) to break down lactose sugar {2}. So, even though these two conditions stem from dairy products and have similar symptoms, the body reacts differently to the casein and lactose, leading to lactose or casein intolerance.

Foods to avoid with casein intolerance

Casein intolerance symptoms aren’t life-threatening, but they can be super uncomfortable and make your life difficult. Once you’ve realized that you have casein intolerance, you should avoid foods like:

  • Whey
  • Protein powder
  • Powdered milk
  • Dairy cream
  • Custard
  • Dairy cheese
  • Artificial butter flavour
  • Artificial cheese flavour
  • Cow’s milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Protein powder
  • Kefir

Foods alternatives for casein intolerance

Most, but not all, dairy products contain casein. For example, the above list contains dairy products that are rich in casein. However, some dairy products like cream and butter contain very little amounts of casein, and people who aren’t severely tolerant to this protein can tolerate it. Even though one can consume these two in small amounts and not get casein intolerance symptoms, it is not advisable for those with severe symptoms to consume them.

Another dairy product that you can consume is ghee. Ghee is clarified butter and doesn’t contain casein, making it safe for those with casein intolerance to consume it. If you need dairy-free milk, you can always purchase nut milk like:

  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk

When you eliminate casein from your diet, you will also eliminate some of the foods with the highest calcium level, like milk, yoghurt, and cheese. So, it will be best if you find other calcium-rich foods to replace them. You can try:

  • Soy products
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Homemade bone broth (with fresh bones and a splash of vinegar to leach minerals from the bone).

Even though it will be hard at first to consume dairy-free meals, you will get used to it after a couple of days, especially since those casein intolerance symptoms pass and you feel much better. You can always prepare your favourite meals like lasagna and cheese but without cheese or using vegan cheese. Vegan cheese doesn’t contain any dairy. You can also still have your favourite ice cream, but take the vegan version, which is in plenty in the market these days.

Casein intolerance test

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Our Complete Intolerance Test Kit

If you get casein intolerance symptoms after consuming any dairy products frequently, you will need to take an Intolerance Test to determine the verdict. Since lactose and casein have similar symptoms, it will be nice to get a test so you can know exactly what you should look out for when reading food labels. An intolerance test is easy to purchase online, and all that’s required on your part is to collect the sample and send it back to the labs for the testing to occur. The test will check for casein and other common intolerances that you could come across in your food and environment.

Once you get your results and you have casein intolerance, you’ll need to eliminate dairy products from your diet for a couple of weeks, and if you want to try introducing them back to your diet in order to build tolerance, talk to your doctor so that they can help with this process. Otherwise, you can choose to keep away from casein, and the symptoms won’t reappear.

Casein intolerance treatment

Just like any other intolerance, you can build a tolerance for casein with your doctor, although the best way to keep the symptoms away for good is by avoiding anything with casein. If you consume casein accidentally, it is advisable to take over-the-counter antihistamines or antacids to help relieve the symptoms. Otherwise, you should be very careful when grocery shopping to ensure that you don’t purchase items containing this milk protein.

When eating out or at a friend’s place, you need to explain your intolerance to them to get casein-free food options. This may seem like too much work, but it will keep you from suffering casein intolerance symptoms which are problematic and can interfere with the quality of your life. You won’t want to go back after you’ve stayed for a while without any casein intolerance symptoms because of how great you’ll feel.

Final thoughts on casein intolerance

Since it’s difficult to narrow down your symptoms to casein intolerance, it is advisable to get yourself an Intolerance Test, which will help you determine whether you’re suffering from this intolerance. Once you confirm your results to be positive, you can start eliminating this milk protein from your diet to relieve your symptoms. After you’ve adopted a casein-free or dairy-free diet, you will feel so much better, and the quality of your life will improve. These days, it’s easy adopting a casein-free diet because you will find alternatives to all the dairy products you love, which won’t result in negative side effects.

References

  1. Pal, S., Woodford, K., Kukuljan, S., & Ho, S. (2015). Milk intolerance, beta-casein and lactose. Nutrients, 7(9), 7285-7297. Source: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5339
  2. Swagerty Jr, D. L., Walling, A., & Klein, R. M. (2002). Lactose intolerance. American family physician, 65(9), 1845. Source: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0501/p1845.html?ref=Guzels.TV

Five ways an allergy test will change your life

As Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” and an allergy test can give you the power to change your life. Once you’re aware of the allergies you suffer from and the effects they’re having on your body and life, you can take the steps necessary towards a healthier lifestyle.

There are many ways allergy testing can change your life; below are five we’ve identified.

1. You can finally enjoy social events

Allergies can hurt your ability to enjoy your social time. Meals can be riddled with ingredients that upset your stomach, going for a coffee can leave you feeling anxious, and bar snacks can leave you struggling for breath. Allergy testing can help you avoid foods that cause these and many other symptoms, empowering you to get the most out of time with friends.

2. Improved workout performance

Allergies can encourage any number of symptoms that impair athletic performance. In some cases, the symptoms, combined with exercise, can be life-threatening. An allergy test can help you identify foods and substances that leave you puffing for breath, long before your muscles feel fatigued, or cutting your workout short to make an unexpected trip to the nearest bathroom. In turn, exercise can help manage the symptoms of an allergy.

man running on treadmill

3. Improved cognitive function

Brain fog leaves you unable to focus on even the simplest of tasks and certainly far short of being able to deliver your best work. Allergies can cause inflammation which affects sleep patterns leaving you in a state of sleepy wakefulness. This can have a real impact on your working and social life as essential tasks can take twice as long. Allergy testing can help identify potential causing factors that you can eliminate from your diet or life, helping clear your mind and allow you to focus entirely on the tasks at hand.

4. Improved mood

Studies have found that allergies can have mental effects as well as physical. Allergy induced fatigue can lead to depression and anxiety as sufferers struggle to get quality sleep. Depression has been shown to be twice as common amongst allergy sufferers than the general population. Identifying the culprit using allergy testing can help combat depression and lift your mood.

5. Improved sleep quality

There are a significant number of effectors on sleep and eliminating them one by one will lead to enhanced rest. Amongst the things that can have an impact on sleep is an allergy. Sleep is the time your brain uses to recuperate and restore damaged cells. To do this, your brain requires a steady flow of oxygen which can be in short supply when an allergic reaction inflames nasal passages. 

 To begin your life-changing journey, you can take one of our allergy tests today to eliminate your culprit.

5 Steps to Take in the Battle Against Food Allergies

It’s a big deal in everyone’s life: Going back to school. It can feel even bigger if you do not have an allergy plan ahead of you!

However, it can sometimes feel even worse if you are suffering from food allergies. You must be super organised, but you can find out below how to best prepare your child for dealing with food allergies

1) You need to have a plan

Make your allergy plan a priority. You can consult either your doctor or health professional who will be able to sign this off for you. Make sure your staff and faculty at your school are aware of your food allergies, and that they know about your plan.

2) Make sure you discuss eating areas and accommodation

You need to be accommodated for if you have a food allergy. The chefs at the school, or if you are taking a packed lunch, people need to be aware of your allergies. Some children are not always aware of the danger of food allergies and intolerances, but teachers should be focused and observant. If you have an allergy plan, make sure they stick to it.

3) Talk to people

Food allergy specialists are an excellent resource. They can help you with advice and ideas on where to sit at lunch (like above), but also how you should approach school trips and adventures. Ensure your school’s big hitters are aware of the allergy guidelines, as well as your allergy plan.

4) Spot and prevent allergy building

We hate to talk about this, but it does happen in schools! In fact, there have been recent stories of children and teachers being attacked for their well-known allergies. There are specific guidelines, which have been developed over in America on how to spot if your child is the target of food allergy bullying. 

5) Make sure you know that your child has an allergy and an allergy plan

You may be reading this wondering what on earth we are going on about. But, living with an undiagnosed or identified food allergy can actually be catastrophic. If not treated or managed correctly, food allergies can leave you feeling unwell and alter your life, or in a worst-case scenario, be potentially life-threatening.

For more information on allergy testing and identifying exactly which items, you or your child should be avoided, check out our blog page! It’s full of hints, tips and advice, all suited to helping you and your family cope with your allergies. Think of an allergy plan after you have discovered your own allergies!