Main eating disorders

Preparing food in some houses can become a real headache. There are ailments, such as allergies, food intolerances or diseases, which, unfortunately, force us to deprive ourselves of foods that we like.

health and beauty

23 February 2019

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Increased reactions to food are a reality today. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) estimates that these ailments have become a public health problem on the rise, affecting more than two million people in Spain. But what is really worrying is the growing incidence among children, which has gone from 4% to 7% in recent years.

Among the more than 120 foods described as potential allergens, milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, fruits (Rosaceae) and some vegetables are at the top. Allergies to fish and shellfish, although less common, usually produce more serious problems.

However, 'it is suspected that at least half of the food allergies which people believe themselves to suffer from, in fact they don't', warns Dr. Pilar Cots, head of the Allergy Service at the Ruber-Juan Bravo Hospital Complex in Madrid, in a statement for the newspaper El Confidencial published on 22 April 2018. And an allergy is not the same as an intolerance.

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Allergy or intolerance?

In allergies, 'the person's immune system is involved,' explains Dr. Cots. They occur as soon as they consume a food, even in very small quantities, and there may be a risk of anaphylaxis (a generalised, rapid allergic reaction which can be fatal). 

Intolerances, however, are not produced by immunological mechanisms and are usually caused by 'the deficiency of enzymes for the proper digestion of a food or by naturally occurring chemical substances'. 

The current high exposure to additives and contaminants, particularly present in processed foods, is also a cause of intolerance.

According to the 'Sensitive consumer' report, prepared by Nielsen in 2016, one in four households in our country has at least one member suffering from some type of allergy or intolerance.

 

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There are two compounds which cause most intolerances; they are lactose and gluten. Although you can have a completely balanced diet whilst avoiding products containing it, depending on the degree of intolerance, we recommend that you always go to an expert to exactly assess the diet to follow depending on the case.

In Spain, 42% of consumers who avoid lactose in their diet do so by choice (they consider it "harmful", according to the Nielsen report).

Phobias

A phobia is defined as an exaggerated aversion to someone or something. The phobias which have to do with food include:


 Lacanophobia: inexplicable fear of one or more vegetables. Its causes may be due to having been forced to eat it while young and having experienced a trauma or, in other cases, the fact of having seen insects on a plant and being afraid to eat bugs while eating vegetables, among many others.

Mycophobia: the terror of consuming mushrooms and poisoning yourself when doing it. People who suffer from this phobia, also depending on the degree to which they suffer, experience fear of seeing or touching them.

Ichthyophobia: defined as the fear of fish, but in many cases not only to see or be near living fish, but also cooked fish.

Phagophobia: the fear of swallowing or choking, which leads to anxiety when eating, drinking or taking medication in pills, for example.

Food neophobia: defined as a phobia of trying new foods which occurs mainly in children between two and three years of age. It usually diminishes or disappears when the child grows older. However, there are cases in which it can last and remain in adulthood.

Cibophobia: fear of food and eating. It creates dread of experiencing poisoning, a food allergy, of the foods being out of date, etc.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is caused by eating food contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. These poisonings are called food poisoning. Affected people have symptoms of being sick and their discomfort usually prevents them from carrying out the daily activities to which they are accustomed. The most common are: salmonella, listeria, botulism, gastroenteritis or toxoplasmosis.