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ALLERGY expert Marlene Hochstrasser is backing a national campaign to highlight food allergy and intolerance.
Registered nurse and qualified allergy practitioner Marlene, who is director of the Devon Allergy Clinic, believes there are huge public misconceptions and misinformation about food.
And she is supporting Allergy UK’s national Food Allergy and Intolerance Week which takes place from Monday January 24.
As many people are embarking on a New Year health kick, diet and losing weight is often a top priority to get rid of those troublesome extra pounds.
But while exercise and diet may do the trick, there could be underlying problems thwarting your attempts to shed the weight.
Torquay-based Marlene says food intolerances and yeast imbalances could account for weight gain, bloating, tiredness, aching joints and fatigue. So it may not just be the amount of food you are eating which is causing the weight gain but your body’s intolerance to particular foods.
She said: “Often people try to self-diagnose but this can be deceptive. For example, you may cut out bread which can cause bloating and other symptoms. But while you could feel an improvement in your health by removing bread from your diet, it could be just one of the ingredients which is causing the problem.
“If you have an intolerance to yeast, rather than wheat for example, if you then carry on eating other foods containing yeast, the problem remains.
“We need to improve education about food intolerances as a whole. It is most important to ensure you eat a balanced diet and if you are cutting out one or more food groups completely and not replacing it with other foods you can tolerate, you can become seriously nutritionally compromised.
“By being specific about the particular foods you may have hypersensitivity to, you can continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet. So if you do have an intolerance to wheat, make sure you replace it with another cereal food such as oats or rye.”
Yeast overgrowth is another common cause of weight gain. Symptoms include cravings for foods including sugar, wine, bread and cheese, migraines, tiredness and bloating.
While we all have the yeast candida in our gut, this is usually controlled by other bacteria. However, illness, overuse of antibiotics, steroids and stress can lead to candida levels becoming out of control, making losing weight more difficult.
Patient Barbara Johnson, from Newton Abbot, 58, saw Marlene after being diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Her symptoms had included chronic fatigue.
While medication controlled the symptoms and improved her condition for a while, Barbara’s debilitating aches and pains eventually reappeared.
After reading about Marlene on her website www.thedevonallergyclinic.co.uk, Barbara decided to try an allergy test. The results were that Barbara was suffering from candida which was causing most of her symptoms and was compromising her weakened immune system.
Barbara explained: “ A strict anti-candida diet together with a course of probiotic supplements was prescribed. Two months later I feel so much better both physically and psychologically and whilst I will always have to be careful with my diet, I do feel I have turned the corner with my health condition. I would recommend anyone suffering with similar symptoms to arrange a test with Marlene.”