This week I had the pleasure of attending the British Dietetic Association (BDA) event on allergies and intolerances. the event was well attended and we heard from specialists in the area of food allergies, I was pleased to hear it reinforced that often young people do grow out of allergies and it is important for them to be re-tested and evaluated by a professional.
So how do they test? Its important that people with allergies are tested correctly and and thoroughly and this would involve what is called a ‘skin pick test’. This means that particles of the foods are applied to the skin for a period of time and the bodies response recorded. This would then be reinforced with a ‘food challenge’ this involved consuming some of the food, under professional supervision, to monitor the bodies response. It can be that the skin can react but the oral intake still be perfectly fine.
I was most interested in the talk around allergies and iodine deficiency as this is something which we are starting to hear more about in the nutrition world. People who are excluding foods due to allergies or intolerances may be missing out on important nutrients in their diet. People avoiding dairy may choose almond milk or soya coconut milk as an alternative and although these have been fortified with calcium and sometimes Vitamin D, Iodine is lacking and a standard milk would have provided this. An iodine deficiency would be picked up in clinic once an inidvidual presents with a goitre, which is a growth on the neck. This is something when I studied nutrition we only heard of in developing counties, but is now becomign more common in the UK. If you are excluding diary in your diet, it is important to eat other iodine rich foods, such as white fish or eggs and to re-introduce dairy if and when possible to avoid long term deficiencies and seek advice from a fully qualified Registered Nutritionist
or Dietetian to ensure your diet is as balanced as possible.
So what does this all mean, the most important message is that you can not tell if you are allergic to a food through completing an online allergy testing kit, there is no point in sending a finger prick of blood or a strand of hair to clinic for testing. Anyone with an allergy needs to seek medical advice and needs referring to an allergy specialist and seek advice from a qualified nutrition professional to ensure you are not excluding foods unnecessarily and are obtain all the essential nutrients your body required.