While most of the population are aware of food allergies as they can cause serious reactions, intolerances are much more common but not always as serious. Food allergies can cause serious reactions, and those allergic foods should always be avoided. The most common allergenic foods are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Allergic reactions can cause rashes, hives, and serious health complications and should always be addressed and an epi- pen should be carried at all times. Intolerances are much more common but not as bad as allergies are. They can often mimic flu / cold symptoms such as sinus congestion, runny nose, itchiness, headaches, and can also cause eczema, psoriasis, bloating, constipation even undigested food in stool.
If you are having some unexplained health problems, or feel constantly run down a common problem could be food intolerances. Fatigue and sinus problems are common complaints of those with food intolerances. It is much harder to diagnose food allergens / intolerances then people think. While bloodtests can be a good indicator they are not always accurate. The variability of the results depends on a number of factors such as how often you eat allergenic foods, genetics and epi-genetics. The reason for a lot of intolerances is due to genetic background, as many cultures eat different staple foods and some cultures have limited to any exposure to certain foods. Further complicating matters is that a lot of people today are of mixed genetic background so its harder to pinpoint these problems.
The best way to treat these intolerances and allergies is to avoid and eliminate them. In my opinion the paleo diet already removes a lot of common food intolerances / allergens that people have problems with. Eliminating soy, legumes and wheat would be a very good start as they do not provide much benefit to anyone. For those with more serious digestive or health problems it may require more then a paleo diet. A good start in the right direction is to eliminate FODMAPs foods this will help with those with IBS. A gaps diet can also be useful and I would recommend it in conjuction with FODMAPs (which is easy to implement), especially for those with mental health / digestive problems as well. There are many free resources on GAPs diet but an important part of it is having homemade bone broth which is made with simple ingredients such as chicken / beef bones, vinegar, salt, pepper, water and garlic.
It is important to not only understand the differences between food allergies and food intolerances but how to treat them for optimal health. Finding a paleo compliant health practitioner can help a great deal. To find one right for you can find one easily on the paleo doctors network if you search for it online.