Zero tolerance: Is food sensitivity a fad?

Cutting out milk or wheat seems to be the one-stop cure for modern ailments. But is food sensitivity more than just a fad?

Food intolerances are sometimes given short shrift, being dismissed as picky eating, hypochondria or faddishness – particularly as more celebrities announce that they are wheat intolerant, like Rachel Weisz, or dairy intolerant, like Victoria Beckham and Orlando Bloom.

A survey last week found that 12 million people in Britain believe they have a food intolerance, although less than a quarter of them have been formally diagnosed. Previous studies have put the real number of sufferers as low as 2 per cent of the population. But while many people wrongly believe they are sensitive to certain foods, there are also millions of us who have genuine food intolerances – but don't know it.

The charity Allergy UK claims that 45 per cent of Britons suffer from some kind of food intolerance, but experts remain sceptical. "I would be very surprised if the figure was as high as 45 per cent," says Ruth Towell, who is chair of the food allergy and intolerance group and a senior research dietician at St Thomas's Hospital. "Working out the prevalence of food intolerance is very difficult. Diagnosing an allergy is usually straightforward, but often people will prefer to blame certain health problems on a food intolerance rather than a bad diet or an unhealthy lifestyle, which can produce the same symptoms."

Patrick Holford, co-author of Hidden Food Allergies says: "The figure for how many people have a food intolerance is not going to be very low; I would estimate that one in three people suffers from one." So how can you tell if you've got a food intolerance – and what can you do about it?

Source - Independent

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