Is there a difference between the two conditions? Yes. It can be difficult to determine whether one has an intolerance or an allergy because the signs and symptoms overlap.
Food allergy symptoms show up immediately whereas an intolerance may or may not manifest soon after ingesting the food. In food allergy, the reaction can occur with smallest quantities but in food intolerance, the person is able to tolerate the food in small amounts or over a period of time. Food allergy can be life-threatening sometimes but not food intolerance. A physician or an allergy specialist will be able to diagnose the problem.
Nuts, dairy, egg and fish are the most common food allergens. Common food intolerance list includes wheat, gluten, milk, yeast, food additives and preservatives.
Symptoms of food allergy can vary from dizziness, swelling of lips and throat, itchy skin and red eyes, to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, shortness of breath, or blocked nose. Food intolerance can show up as bloating, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, wheezing, hives or runny nose.
If you’re aware of the problem that you have, check labels when you buy packaged foods. The best way to prevent such problems from occurring is to avoid the foods that cause these problems. Maintaining a diary of the foods that you eat can help to trace the allergen or the food that causes the problem.
A question that came from a vegetarian – “Is it ok to eat a cup of flaxseed daily? My gym instructor has asked me to take fish because its good for my heart, but I don’t want to start eating non-veg. So, he asked me to take 1 cup of flaxseed everyday.” If gym instructors were qualified in nutrition and dietetics, they would not dole out such advise!
Firstly, it’s not important for vegetarians to start eating fish or any form of meat for good health. Secondly, if meat eaters get their omega 3 fats from fish, the vegetarians can get it from flaxseed and walnut. However, it’s not necessary to eat a cup of flax everyday. 1 to 2 tablespoons is the suggested quantity as of now.
You can find whole flaxseed as well as the powdered form in many supermarkets. Powdered flax is easier to consume. Add it in your breakfast cereal or soup or sabji or dal or smoothie or pasta or any other dish.
As women, we always worry about whether or not we are getting enough calcium. It’s becoming fashionable to take calcium supplements after stepping into middle age. Do all women really need calcium supplements once they cross 40? No.
Traditional Indian diets included adequate calcium-rich foods and there was no need for calcium supplements in the form of tablets. Lifestyle changes over the last few decades have robbed calcium from our bones and supplementation has become common.
Some of the calcium ‘robbers’ are carbonated beverages, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, sodium and sedentary lives. If the ‘robbers’ can be eliminated (eg – smoking) or restricted (eg – sodium), we have a greater retention of calcium in our bones and reduced need for supplements.
Also, include calcium-rich foods like soybean, horse gram, chick peas (channa), ragi, dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, fish, sesame seeds (til), cumin seeds (jeera), almonds, regularly in your diet.