Red Flag For Food Allergies, White Flag For Intolerances

If you’ve ever watched Hugh Laurie strut his stuff as Dr Gregory House in House M.D. the TV series, you’d have heard his talented diagnostic team call frantically for the Crash Cart because a patient’s gone into anaphylactic shock, which is the body’s life-threatening allergic response. Usually, a rapidly executed shot of epinephrine forestalls a final curtain call.

True story, a 20 yr old girl with a nut allergy died in 2012 after a new boyfriend ate a peanut butter sandwich but despite brushing his teeth, she was struggling to breathe within minutes of him kissing her. The bewildered boyfriend immediately called the ambulance, which arrived in 8 minutes, but it was already too late. Her brain had been deprived of oxygen. Severe Cerebral Anoxia is what the coroner wrote on her death certificate.  The relationship was new and she had not informed the guy of her allergy. That night, she did not have her emergency EpiPen shot on her, nor did she wear a Medic Alert bracelet – both of which may have saved her life. 

Let’s explore the difference between hoisting a red flag in the case of allergic reactions and waving a white flag in the event of succumbing to food intolerance.

The Nitty Gritty of Food Allergy Versus Food Intolerance

In short, food intolerance is a digestive system issue and food allergies are an immune system issue. The immune system overreacts in shock when it identified something life-threatening has entered the body. For each and every such threat, the immune system produces antibodies (called Immunoglobulin E aka IgE), which travel to the cells that release chemicals causing the allergic reaction. Depending on the sensitivity level, the immune system can be sent into anaphylaxis on ingesting microscopic amounts, or by touch exposure to the food in question and even via inhalation.

There are early warnings of course. Allergic food reactions usually manifest on the skin by way of itchiness or hives or swelling. GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting as the body tries to expel the offending substance. The more repetitions of the ingestion or exposure the more allergic the response becomes. Anaphylaxis happens terribly quickly. There is shortness of breath, dizziness and even loss of consciousness.

Food intolerances on the other hand, just leave you feeling uneasy after eating certain foods. Causes here are possible enzyme deficiencies so the body cannot properly break down the food to digest it.

A Clean Gut Is The Best Defence

In the case of food intolerances specifically, the lack of digestive enzymes can be corrected by taking a health supplement before requiring digestion of food. A bit of a pre-dinner cocktail if you like. But the best correctional advice it to take the trouble to cleanse the colon.

Call Dr Alain Sanua on 011 463 1614 or email at for tried and tested advice on the kind of colon cleansing that is best in your particular case.


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