Food hypersensitivity

Food hypersensitivity is a negative response of the human body to the food ingested, characterised by an intolerance to at least 1 ingredient contained in the food.

Food hypersensitivity may be immune (food allergy) or non-immune non-allergic food hypersensitivity (food intolerance).

In the pathogenesis of food allergy, we differentiate between IgE-dependent and IgE-independent allergies. IgE antibodies are responsible for the clinical characteristics, including the rate of symptom build-up, the life-threatening condition of the patient and the involvement of other immunocompetent cells (e.g. T lymphocytes).

Food intolerance

Food intolerances mainly concern the ingredients gluten, fructose, galactose. Most commonly manifests as pain or digestive disorders (swelling, bloating, nausea, etc.)

Celiac disease

The most common type is an autoimmune reaction (visceral disease) to gluten ingested with food. Its main cause is atrophy or impaired function of the intestinal villi.

Food hypersensitivity – reaction mechanism

The main role is played by the gastrointestinal lymph tissue (GALT), which is inflamed when antigens come into contact with or penetrate the intestinal lumen. Sensitized lymphocytes (immune cells) enter the cardiovascular system via the lymph nodes and the breast tract, then return to the digestive system and differentiate into T and B lymphocytes, which are involved in the immune defence. The activation of lymphocytes by food antigens leads to the transformation of lymphocytes, the formation of plasma cells and the initiation of the synthesis of immunoglobulins.

Any food hypersensitivity reaction is an inflammation of the body.

Food allergens

Food allergens are proteins which, when ingested at levels well tolerated by healthy people, trigger an immune response in allergy sufferers due to an abnormal response of the body. The list of allergens contains 108 entries.

The best known are the 8 products, known as the BIG EIGHT, which most often trigger food allergies. These include chicken eggs, cow’s milk, fish, shellfish and molluscs, nuts, vegetables and fruit.

Cross allergies, in which food allergies cross with allergens from other sources (e.g. insect secretions, dusty trees and shrubs, components of perfume or clothing), are also common.

Symptoms of food allergy

The most common allergic symptoms include the skin, respiratory tract, central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.

Often the symptoms of an allergy are delayed, making it difficult to identify which products trigger an allergy. The most dangerous symptom is anaphylactic shock, which is immediately life-threatening.

Dietary treatment

The simplest method is the elimination diet, in which the allergen is eliminated from the diet. If it is necessary to eliminate too many products, then it is best to supplement the diet with replacement products.

You can also teach your body tolerance to the allergen by following a rotational diet, adding small doses of the allergen in your diet and observing the body’s response.

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