The Dangers of Self-Diagnosed Food Allergies

Problems With Self-Diagnosing Food Allergies

It should now be clear that various health conditions could easily be mistaken for food allergies. As a result, many people with gastrointestinal problems start a restrictive diet without consulting a physician. Eliminating foods without a proper diagnosis, however, can be misleading. If you feel better, it could be due to the placebo effect, coincidence, or because you replace highly processed food with fruits and vegetables.
 
Because of advertising and information on the Internet, many people believe that "free-from" foods are healthier. Giving up food groups, however, can lead to poor nutrition. For example, dairy products are the main source of calcium in the Western diet, so finding an alternative source is necessary to prevent bone problems. For those who can tolerate gluten, whole wheat is a high-protein grain that supplies vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Gluten-free products, on the other hand, are often high in fat and sugar.
 
Starting a gluten-free diet on your own is a good example of why self-diagnosis can be harmful. Without the input of a dietician, a gluten-free diet can result in nutritional deficiencies, since many gluten-free items are highly processed and unfortified. Gluten-free products are generally two to three times more expensive than comparable gluten-containing products, so they can increase your food costs. In addition, a gluten-free diet can interfere with the medical tests used to make a celiac disease diagnosis.
 

Final Thoughts

Based on symptoms alone, it is difficult for the average person to tell the difference between food allergies, food intolerance, and other medical conditions. Qualified healthcare professionals are trained to diagnose digestive problems based on a person's medical history, physical examination, and medical tests. The safest and most effective way to deal with a suspected food allergy is to start with a professional diagnosis.
 
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