Healthy Living

Special Dietary Needs

Special Dietary Needs

Food allergy & intolerance

A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific types of foods, which are normally not harmful to the majority of people. The reaction occurs within minutes or up to two hours following ingestion of the food and symptoms vary from an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears, hives, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. However, it can sometimes be extremely serious and potentially fatal -anaphylaxis. Total avoidance of the food that causes the allergy should be advised to prevent these symptoms.

Food intolerance is where the body shows an adverse reaction to a particular food and is the response from the digestive system rather than the immune system. The symptoms are normally delayed and usually occur several hours after consuming the food. Some people can tolerate a reasonable amount of the food before the body has adverse reactions and the symptoms are generally varied and can include fatigue, joint pains, night sweats, gastrointestinal symptoms, skin rashes, eczema and other chronic conditions.

Milk allergy

Milk proteins may cause allergic reactions. Casein, making up the curd that forms when milk is left to sour, is the main protein. The remaining proteins are in the whey, the watery leftover after curd is separated. You could try calcium-enriched rice or soy products (if soy is tolerated) and other vegan alternatives.

Lactose intolerance

Sufferers of lactose intolerance don't have enough of the intestinal enzyme lactase to help them digest the sugar (lactose) in dairy. They may experience cramps or diarrhea after drinking milk or eating dairy products. The lactose-intolerant should check with a doctor or dietician to regulate the quantity and quality of milk in the diet. Depending upon the severity of the condition, it is suggested to offer alternatives like soy milk, milk products like buttermilk, yoghurt etc or exclude milk from the diet. Hard, aged cheeses (such as mature cheddar) are lower in lactose. Yogurts containing active cultures are easier to digest and less likely to cause lactose problem.s

Fat conscious

A common misperception that all dairy foods are "fattening" can sometimes limit the amount of dairy foods we eat. That?s a big mistake, because our bones need the nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D, which dairy foods can provide. A 200 ml glass of skim milk has only 80 calories and zero fat. It supplies one quarter of your recommended daily calcium intake. Talk to your dietician about the importance of calcium-rich foods in a healthy diet.

Vegetarians /Vegans

Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but no dairy products. Vegans only eat foods from plant sources. You may be concerned about calcium deficiency. A vegetable-only diet presents challenges. Good calcium sources include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, chickpeas, and calcium-fortified products.

Coeliac disease

Coeliac disease is not classified as either a food allergy or intolerance but as an autoimmune disease of the small intestine, whereby the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. The only treatment for coeliac disease is strict adherence to a lifelong gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley therefore you must exclude these cereals in a gluten free diet to help control symptoms and prevent long term health consequences. A diet should instead consists of naturally gluten-free foods such as meat, fruit, vegetables, most dairy products, potatoes, rice and lentils, processed foods which contain no gluten like ready meals and soups and gluten free substitute foods that are specially made for people with coeliac disease for example gluten free bread, flour pasta and biscuits.

Eating disorder

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can dramatically reduce calcium intake and accelerate mineral loss from bone. The extreme weight loss caused by anorexia and bulimia affect women?s ovaries, which stop producing hormones. Estrogen deficiency in younger women contributes to bone loss in much the same way that estrogen deficiency after menopause does. The earlier in life these disorders strike and the longer they go untreated, the more severe the bone loss that may occur. Anorexia patients with an average illness duration of about six years are found to have an annual fracture rate seven times greater than that of healthy women of the same age. Osteoporosis develops in about 35 to 50 percent of cases of anorexia.