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Allergy or intolerance


A food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When the individual eats food containing that protein (even small amounts), the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms such as swelling of lips/face/eyes, hives or welts, tingling mouth.

A severe and sudden allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) symptoms include difficulty/noisy breathing, swelling of tongue, swelling/tightness of throat, difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice, wheeze or persistent cough, persistent dizziness or collapse, pale and floppy (young children).  If left untreated, these symptoms can be fatal.

Please consult Anaphylaxis Australia Food Allergy Basics fact sheet

Common food allergies are

  • Egg        
  • Peanut
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Sesame
  • Tree nut
  • Milk
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat


Coeliac disease

Delayed reactions to food may also occur. Coeliac disease is a delayed immune reaction to the gluten part of wheat. This damages the intestinal lining, resulting in abdominal bloating, discomfort, diarrhoea or constipation decreasing absorption of essential foods from the intestine resulting in anaemia, lethargy and nutritional deficiencies. These changes may be subtle and can easily be missed.



Intolerances do not involve the body’s immune system, are slower in onset and are not life threatening.  After eating, some people complain of symptoms:

  • Central nervous system – migraines, headaches, lethargy, impairment of memory and concentration, restlessness, sleep disturbance, restless legs, etc.
  • Gastrointestinal tract – irritable bowel symptoms, colic (in babies), bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, frequent mouth ulcers, reflux, etc.
  • Respiratory –asthma, stuffy or runny nose, frequent colds and infections, etc.
  • Skin – rashes and swelling

Natural chemicals are found in foods. These naturally occurring chemicals add flavour and smell to food.  The most common ones to upset sensitive people are Amines, Salicylates and Glutamate.

Other causes of intolerances:

  • Enzyme deficiencies – some people are born without enough of a certain enzyme.
  • Lactose intolerance - is a person’s inability to digest lactase which is a sugar found in milk.  Lactose intolerance is NOT the same as milk allergy.
  • Food additives are chemicals added to foods to keep them fresh or to enhance their colour, flavour or texture. is not a substitute for independent professional or medical advice and you should obtain appropriate professional or medical advice relevant to your particular circumstances.

Source:  the above interpretation of an allergy and intolerance was compiled from the Food Intolerance Network and Anaphylaxis Australia

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