When you do not tolerate certain foods
You may have an allergy, intolerance or an autoimmune disorder that forces you to eliminate certain foods from your diet.
A food allergy is the immune system’s reaction to substances from the environment. The reaction occurs immediately and affects primarily the skin, mucosa and respiratory tract. Examples of a food allergies are peanut allergy or wheat allergy, in which the immune system reacts to protein components of the corresponding food. For people with these allergies, even the tiniest amounts of the food is enough for symptoms to occur, so that even traces of the food must be avoided. To protect people with allergies, in the European Union, 14 of the most frequent foods causing allergies must be listed on the labels of food packages and for takeaway food.
A food intolerance is not caused by an allergic reaction and the symptoms do not occur until several hours after consumption. One example of this is lactose intolerance, which is relatively common. Individuals with lactose intolerance lack an enzyme that breaks up the lactose into its individual components. If this enzyme is absent, the lactose cannot be split up and therefore cannot be absorbed by the body. This causes the typical symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhoea and stomach ache. In contrast to people with allergies, people with a food intolerance can generally tolerate a certain amount of the questionable food and must not strictly avoid consuming traces of it.
An autoimmune disorder involves the immune system reacting to the body’s own tissue. Type 1 diabetes is a well-known autoimmune disorder. The disorder causes an inflammation in which the body attacks and destroys its own tissue. Coeliac disease is also an autoimmune disorder, in which the small bowel is damaged. However, in most cases the damage is reversible if you switch to a gluten free diet.