From reddened skin, itching, wheals, asthma and hay fever to gastrointestinal problems and, at worst, severe circulatory problems - the symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are as diverse as their triggers. A true allergy is an overreaction of the immune system - in contrast to so-called pseudoallergies, which, however, manifest themselves in a similar way. Typically, the signs of the disease appear shortly after the consumption of the allergenic food and will quickly fade away when the food is avoided.
Food allergies are hardly treatable
In contrast to a pollen allergy, there is no possibility of hyposensitization in food allergy. The only therapy is therefore the consistent avoidance of the food. Exact figures on the frequency of food allergies do not exist for Germany. Experts believe that up to eight percent of children and two percent of adults are allergic to certain foods.
The most common food allergies are directed against chicken eggs, cow's milk, wheat and soy. The allergenic effect is based on certain protein components that the immune system recognizes as foreign and therefore fights.
Through "provocation" to the goal
Often it is not that easy to find the allergy triggers. Real allergies are discovered by specialized doctors through skin and blood tests. However, a positive test result does not necessarily mean that the food also causes symptoms. Only careful Auslassdiäten with subsequent testing of the suspected food ("provocation") bring a safe evidence.
Learning to deal with the allergy
After the diagnosis, it is particularly important for allergy sufferers to inform themselves. He / she can learn to deal with the allergy and to avoid the individual food allergens - often without having to give up a "normal life".
In the case of processed foods, for example, it is important to find "hidden allergens" in the list of ingredients. For example, the product may include celery in the words "spices", to which some people are allergic. Also, not everyone knows that pasta or margarine can contain chicken egg ingredients. Careful training and advice is therefore essential.
For staple foods such as wheat, milk or egg, there are suitable alternatives and not only in the specialty business. For example, people with cow's milk allergy may use milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and other types of cheese (sheep, goats). Soya-based milk substitutes can replace normal milk when baking cakes or refining sauces. Not infrequently they are even enriched with the important bone building material calcium.
Those who "only" react to whey protein may be able to tolerate very fatty milk products such as butter, crème fraiche, cream or canned milk. A food allergy is something very individual and often enough the sensitivity changes with time.