women

Hay fever misery

If you’re reading this with runny eyes and sneezes, you may have hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. This is caused by an allergy to different pollens. Tree pollens tend to be responsible from around February to June, grass from May to July and weeds from September to October Antihistamines are first-line treatments, but there's a fascinating link With certain foods too - particularly in the case of tree pollens. 'If you're allergic to these’ explains Dr Morris, you're far more likely to be allergic to those fruits and nuts that share a common protein. So if silver birch sets you off. So may apple, pear, peach, cherry, and hazelnuts.'

Description: If you’re reading this with runny eyes and sneezes, you may have hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis.

If you’re reading this with runny eyes and sneezes, you may have hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Treatment tactics

Some food allergies or intolerances, such as to peanuts or gluten, are lifelong. They involve complete avoidance of the food in question and, in the case of peanuts, carrying an adrenaline 'pen’ at all times. Other common allergies to milk and eggs tend to disappear by the age of three, as the immune system learns to cope with them.

Description: As Dr Morris explains, ‘In Israel, peanut butter is given early in life and children don’t suffer any allergy.’

As Dr Morris explains, ‘In Israel, peanut butter is given early in life and children don’t suffer any allergy.’

Research on peanuts is ongoing - the LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) Study, for example, involves giving tiny amounts of peanuts to babies in the hope that this may protect them against allergy. As Dr. Morris explains, ‘In Israel, peanut butter is given early in life and children don’t suffer any allergy.’

The gold standard with other intolerances involves keeping a food diary for at least a month, then an elimination and challenge diet, which both Helen Bond and Dr Morris agree should never be carried out yourself, only in a healthcare setting. This is for a variety of reasons, not least of which is accurate diagnosis.

‘Eliminating suspect foods for a few weeks is then followed by slowly reintroducing them, one at a time, to test for reactions.’ explains Dr Morris. ‘It’s important that this is done in a safe setting, as the food needs to be disguised to eliminate the possibility of an emotional or psychosomatic factor.’

Description: It’s important that you cat a healthy, balanced diet by substituting appropriate alternatives

It’s important that you cat a healthy, balanced diet by substituting appropriate alternatives

If food intolerance is diagnosed, it’s important that you cat a healthy, balanced diet by substituting appropriate alternatives (see chart above). This should be done in consultation with your GP, allergy specialist or dietitian, who can advise on the best route to take. Nowadays, the huge growth in ‘free from’ foods (free from nuts, gluten, wheat and dairy) available on supermarket shelves has made life considerably easier, with Mintel reporting recently that we spend more than $464.83 million a year on dairy-free and gluten-free foods.

Problem foods and good alternatives

Description: Apples, pears, grapes, and bananas can be good alternatives instead of Kiwis, citrus fruit and berries

Apples, pears, grapes, and bananas can be good alternatives instead of Kiwis, citrus fruit and berries

Try these only on advice from your GP or dietitian

Problem

Try

Wheat

Rice, millet and potatoes.

Dairy

Soya, lactose-free, rice, goat’s and oat milks and cheese. Choose calcium-fortified version to ensure adequate calcium intake.

Nuts

Seeds, except sesame, are a good alternative. Ensure adequate intake of fibre from fruit and vegetables.

Kiwis, citrus fruit and berries

Apples, pears, grapes, and bananas

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