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Food allergy or intolerance is extremely common. Most people understand allergies to infrequently eaten (often exotic) foods such as oysters, strawberries, peanuts, etc. which are usually very obvious.

In contrast, masked food sensitivity develops insidiously and patients are totally unaware that they are reacting to regularly consumed foods such as wheat, corn, milk, yeast, soy, sugar, tea, coffee and eggs. These sensitivities gradually develop rather in the same way as people start to develop hay fever (a reaction to grass pollens) which they have been in contact with for many years without any prior problem.

When patients eat foods containing these masked allergens, the offending food initially causes a slight improvement in their symptoms. This often sets up an addictive reaction to the food to which they are sensitive. When a patient goes onto a diet that contains none of the foods to which they are sensitive they feel worse for the first 3 or 4 days due to the initial avoidance of these foods. This is termed a withdrawal reaction and proves the existence of the food sensitivity. In such a case after 6 or 7 days patients report that they feel better than they have done for a long time. Huge numbers of patients lose constant symptoms such as fatigue, joint pains, headaches, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's Disease, muscle pains, asthma, eczema and urticaria and many other conditions. Usually 25 very safe foods are initially allowed on these diets, which if conclusive are followed by selective reintroduction of other foods. Once a food has been avoided for 7 days, adverse reactions become obvious on reintroduction, both to the patient and the doctor. Children tend to have fewer food intolerances than adults and we often increase the number of foods allowed when we are investigating children.

The Burghwood Clinic, 34 Brighton Road [A217], Banstead, Surrey SM7 1BS, England
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