Leading scientists have warned that many over-the-counter allergy kits – including food allergy kits – are not reliable. Stuart Jones – principal biochemist at King George Hospital, London – has called for more regulation of the sector.
Allergies, and the harmful effects of allergies, have increased over the years. For example UK hospital admissions for anaphylaxis increased 615% between 1992 and 2012.
However, the number of people self-diagnosing has also increased. Hospitals are seeing children with malnutrition because of unnecessary dietary restriction following an incorrect diagnosis of food allergy; and a recent study of almost 1,000 children showed that 34% of parents reported food allergies in their children when in fact only 5% had an allergy.
We seem to have reached a stage where every ailment and discomfort is attributed to a food allergy. Changing ones diet based on unreliable and unscientific testing puts your health and wellbeing at risk. Our bodies need a range of vitamins and nutrients for optimum wellbeing. If we eliminate food groups from our diet we miss out on the nutrients those foods contain. If we miss out on vital nutrients our body and our wellbeing can suffer for example from a lack of energy which can cause mood swings and drops in concentration; to cells not repairing properly which can lead to lacklustre skin and hair.
Genuine food allergies are, thankfully, very rare – but they can be serious. If you suspect you are allergic to something please see your doctor.
For more information see the Making Sense of Allergies Guide publishes by Sense about Science.