It has long been known that consumption of certain foods can have profound effects on the physical and mental health of susceptible individuals. This is even more evident in today’s world with the huge variety of processed foods we now consume.
Recent work by Atkinson and co-workers has identified that food-specific antibodies (produced by the body’s immune system) and symptoms of food intolerance are closely linked. Food intolerance is associated with a wide range of unpleasant symptoms and many chronic conditions. Unlike food allergies, food intolerance is unlikely to be life threatening.
Less than 2% of the population suffers from food allergies; however, up to 45% of the population is estimated to suffer from some form of food intolerance.
Symptoms often occur some time after the food has been eaten and it can be difficult to identify the food or foods which cause the symptoms. For example, the milk or bread eaten one day could be the cause of joint pains three days later. Some food-related symptoms may be caused by enzyme deficiency or
chemical sensitivity, while in others an immune response may be involved.
Many food intolerances are associated with an inappropriate immune response to a particular food or foods. While the causes of food intolerance are not fully understood, inadequate digestion, dysbiosis, candidiasis, parasites, intestinal infections, a poorly balanced diet, alcohol consumption, or the effects of drugs and medications may play a role. Production of antibodies is one of the ways in which the body’s immune system reacts to substances
that adversely affect it.
In normal circumstances, these antibodies combine with proteins in the food to form complexes, which are then eliminated by the immune system. However, if the immune system is overwhelmed or over-worked, complexes can accumulate in places such as joints or the digestive tract to produce symptoms of food intolerance.