Half of the People Who Think They Have Food Allergies Actually Don’t

Above is the headline of a January 7, 2019, story published in Popular Science. This story, as well as several others, are based on a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Open Network on January 4, 2019. The study showed that there was a large difference between the number of people who believe they have a food allergy, and the actual number that do.

The research was based out of Northwestern University. The researchers surveyed 40,443 American adults and asked them a series of questions related to food allergies. The answers to those questions helped researchers decide if the person had an allergy to a particular food, or if they just were not tolerating a food without actually have an allergy toward it.

According to the researchers, 19% of the U.S. population believes that they have a food allergy. The study shows that only about 11% of the population actually does have an allergy toward food. This equates out to 26 million Americans that have food allergies.

Ruchi Gupta, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a co-author of the research, noted that certain people who thought they had a food allergy based on certain symptoms, did not, “If they only had, say, bloating or stomach pain or diarrhea then we took them out because that could be a lactose intolerance or a food intolerance.”

In a January 7, 2018, article on this study, they explain the difference by noting that someone who is lactose intolerant is deficient in the enzyme lactase needed to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. These people can drink a milkshake but will have symptoms and possibly bloating after they do from their inability to properly digest the milk. If a person with a true allergy to milk products drinks a milkshake, the reaction can cause their throat to close or their blood pressure to drop, as well as other allergic symptoms that can include the respiratory system, the skin, or even their cardiovascular system. A true allergic response like this can be life threatening.

In the case of lactose intolerance, you are dealing with the digestive system and the deficiency of the enzyme lactase. In the case of a true allergy to milk products, you are dealing with an immune system that over-reacts to the product ingested and causes the severe symptoms and issues.

“The common threat between each of these scenarios is that both the immune system and the digestive system are under the control of the nervous system,” says Dr. Robert Braile, a chiropractor and past president of the international Chiropractors Association. “Chiropractors do not directly treat either lactose intolerance, or food allergies, but by making sure that there is little or no interference to the nervous system, we can help people with these issues self-correct their problems to the best of their abilities.”

Dr. Braile continued to explain by noting, “Some people with food issues get great responses under chiropractic, while others seem to get only minor changes. In either case, their quality of life is improved as their body is actually functioning better when their nervous system is functioning better.”

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