Food allergies and intolerances

CHOICE investigates why nut allergy rates are now soaring, and what you can do if you think you have an allergy.
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02.Is it an allergy?

Intolerance or allergy?

It is the number of people with a food allergy, not intolerance, that is on the increase, according to experts. The difference between the two is often confused; many people think they are allergic when they are really intolerant to particular food chemicals. The table below explains the difference and how to work out which you might have

According to Dr Anne Swain, Chief Allergy Dietitian at RPAH, many people have an intolerance, but haven’t identified it as such; they just know they associate their migraines with chocolate, or feel awful after eating particular foods. It’s not easy to measure how widespread this is, but as a rough estimate 10% to 15% of people may have some form of intolerance, with only a few experiencing serious problems.


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What is Coeliac disease?

Coeliac diseaseis an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to the protein gluten, and attacks and damages the lining of the bowel. It spells a lifetime of avoiding gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, oats and barley. People with coeliac disease have a genetic predisposition to it, but as environmental factors play a part it can develop at any time. Blood tests can point to the disease, but diagnosis can only be confirmed by taking a biopsy of the small bowel and checking for damage. Visit for more information.

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