Could This Explain The Rise In Food Allergies?

Illustration by Anna Sudit
Say what you like about London, but you can't knock it for its range of food options. Pick a cuisine and there's a pretty good chance you'll find a suitable restaurant in the capital.

While many of us can enjoy sampling all this interesting food without problems – a brisk walk or little lie down will ease our food babies, no problem – others aren't so lucky and will experience unpleasant symptoms if their bodies disagree with particular ingredients.

In fact, the increasing range of food eaten in London has led to an increase in allergies that require medical treatment, according to experts.

Doctors say they've noticed an increase in the number of people experiencing adverse reactions to chickpeas, sesame and rare fish, which have become a more common feature in our multicultural diets, the Evening Standard reported.

More patients have sought help “as we all get a little more adventurous in our diets”, according to Dr Adam Fox, clinical director for walk-in allergy services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trust.

“London is a fantastically diverse place. People come from all sorts of cultures, and eat all sorts of different foods," he told the Evening Standard.

“One of the biggest drivers [in patient numbers] is the increase in food allergy we are seeing — such as peanuts, nuts, eggs and milk.”

Last year, the trust's allergy service treated 784 patients admitted to hospital, and the number of patients being admitted for allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock across the NHS has risen by more than a third in the past five years to 29,544 cases in 2015/16.

Dr Rubaiyat Haque told the Evening Standard: “The number of referrals we receive gets bigger every year — last year they increased by 25 per cent.”

The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trust was recently recognised by the World Allergy Organisation as a centre of excellence and moved from St Thomas’s to Guy’s, at London Bridge, enabling it to treat double the number of patients.

The service tests patients for allergies with “challenge tests”, which involve giving them small, increasing doses of the suspected allergen to see how they react and potentially obtain a diagnosis.
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