Fruit & vegetablesWould you believe research has revealed almost half (44%) of UK adults believe they are suffering from a food allergy or intolerance – yet 65% have not actually visited a GP or health professional to confirm this?

Over a third of people surveyed admitted to simply ‘guessing’ that they have a food allergy. And as a result, a staggering 87% of adults who believe they have a food allergy have cut down on certain foods, with almost half (45%) eliminating them out of their diet completely.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common complaints which led people to ‘diagnose’ a food allergy or intolerance were almost exclusively digestive-related, with abdominal pain & discomfort, bloating, diarrhoea and indigestion topping the list.

However, many people do not know that these can also be common symptoms of IBS. In fact, over 80% of the population have never approached their GP regarding IBS and subsequently those who believe they have a food intolerance could be eliminating foods unnecessarily, without properly having addressed their gut health.

Consultant gastroenterologist and medical adviser to The Gut Trust, Dr Nick Read offers some words of advice:

“Chronic, unexplained gut symptoms are more likely to be caused by the situations and events that cause stress in our lives, rather than food allergy. Stress can cause the bowel to become more sensitive and intolerant to food in general. Make sure you consult your GP before eliminating foods from your diet. And if you have ‘red flag’ symptoms, such as passage of blood, fever or weight loss, seek medical advice immediately.”

Research by OnePoll for Yakult, May 2010