Food Allergies and Intolerances

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Do you suspect that something you eat is causing those unusual symptoms you get from time to time? Food allergies are relatively rare in adults. They most commonly occur in children, who usually outgrow them over time. Foods that most often cause a true allergic reaction in children include egg whites, shellfish, nuts, and milk.

Dairy products can produce stomach cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea in adults, but these symptoms most often indicate lactose intolerance, an inability to digest lactose, the sugar that is found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance is much more common than you may think. Most people (except those of northern European descent) develop lactose intolerance in adulthood because their bodies gradually stop pro ducing lactase, an intestinal enzyme that helps to digest lactose. If you think you may have lactose intolerance, switch to the many low-lactose or lactose-free dairy products that are now available. Lactase also is available over the counter in pill form.

Some people are sensitive to certain foods but are not actually allergic to them because the food does not trigger an allergic reaction. Food preservatives called sulfites and flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) can produce headaches and other symptoms. Some people get migraine headaches after consuming red wine, cheese, or chocolate. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing that you think may be food-related.

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