Aslıhan Koruyan Sabanci
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Food Sensitivity, Food Allergy

FOOD SENSITIVITY, FOOD ALLERGY


Food sensitivity or food allergy is the unexpected, abnormal reactions of the body against food or additives. Allergy is defined as the reaction that occurs in the immunologic mechanisms. Sensitivity is defined as the reaction that occurs in the absence of enzymes, or in the presence of toxic or pharmacological agents. For example, sensitivity can occur after the consumption of a fish that contains a toxic material such as histamine. Some people may develop allergies, while some may develop sensitivity against cow’s milk. Sensitivity develops as a result of the low levels of lactate enzyme, which is known as the enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar. Allergy, on the other hand, will develop as an immunologic reaction of the body against the protein in cow’s milk. In this case, the body will simply identify cow’s milk as a foreign body.

Food sensitivity is often confused with food allergy. The most common food allergies are cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soy, hazelnuts, peanuts, and seafood. Wheat allergy is also known as gluten allergy. The body seriously and rapidly reacts to the gluten protein that is found in the wheat. The reactions are almost the same as other food allergies. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, coughing and asthma are typical symptoms. Wheat allergy is rare. It starts in infancy, as the baby begins having additional nutrition other than breast milk. It may also occur during early childhood. The recovery is fast.



CELIAC DISEASE


Celiac disease is known as gluten enteropathy in medicine, it is the only food allergy that lasts a lifetime. Environmental, immunologic and genetic factors play an important role in the occurrence of the disease. It is identified as the permanent sensitivity of the small intestine to the gluten protein that is found in the wheat, barley, rye and oat. After the intake of gluten bearing foods, the immune system is stimulated and inflammations occur on the inner surface of the small intestine.

The classic celiac lesion occurs in the proximal small intestine with typical histological changes of villous (finger shaped protrusions in the small intestine) atrophy, crypt hyperplasia and increased intraepithelial lymphocytosis causing defects in absorption. Thus, many nutrients including the vitamins, electrolytes and minerals are lost before absorption. As a result, many unwanted situations emerge; such as anemia, which occurs in the absence of iron and bone related diseases that occur in the absence of vitamin D.

Situations such as viral infections, significant stress situations, surgery, accidents, pregnancy or birth may initiate the disease.