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Food intolerances and FoodWorks

15 January 2018

Food intolerances can be tricky to identify and treat. With FoodWorks, you can see the sources of triggering chemicals in your clients’ diets.

Food intolerances are irritation reactions to certain chemicals that occur naturally in a wide range of foods. Unlike allergies and coeliac disease, which are immune reactions to food proteins, food intolerances don’t involve the immune system.

Some of the major natural food chemicals which can upset sensitive people are salicylates, amines and glutamate. Some people inherit a sensitivity to these chemicals; others become sensitive after an environmental trigger occurs, such as a severe viral infection.

The most common symptoms caused by food intolerances are ‘recurrent hives and swellings, headaches, sinus trouble, mouth ulcers, nausea, stomach pains and bowel irritation’, sometimes with a feeling of being ‘generally unwell, rundown, or irritable’ (Dr Anne R Swain, 2013).

Symptoms vary from person to person, as does symptom speed and severity. Symptoms also depend on the dose of the chemical ingested, and the threshold dose varies between individuals.

Counselling clients with food intolerances? How FoodWorks can help

We have included data for salicylates, amines and glutamate (SAG) for FoodWorks 10. This data has been provided by Dr Anne Swain and her team of experts at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. Released with FoodWorks 10 Professional, the SAG data is available for the major Australian data sources in FoodWorks, AusBrands and AusFoods.

So with FoodWorks you can now assess the level of these chemicals occurring in your clients’ diets, see in what foods they occur, and then plan to minimise them as required.

Assess your clients’ diets and plan changes

To show the SAG analysis for Joanne Smith’s 3-day food record, we clicked on Intolerances in the Analysis Pane. Her intake of the SAG chemicals is very high (VH).

It is also easy to see which foods in her diet are high and low in the chemicals.

For example, by clicking Salicylates in the Analysis Pane, a new column appears showing the salicylate value for each food item in her food record:

Check for adequate nutrition

Because the SAG chemicals are present in many otherwise healthy foods, people with food intolerances need to be careful with what they eat day-to-day.

With its NRV and other analyses, FoodWorks can help you check that your clients, while undertaking an elimination or restrictive diet for the SAG chemicals, are still meeting their nutritional needs.

More information

Find a range of resources for working with food intolerances here on the Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Unit website.


Dr Anne R Swain, Dr Valencia L Soutter and Dr Robert H Loblay from Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Unit. (2013). Friendly Food – The essential guide to avoiding allergies, additives and problem chemicals. Murdoch Books Australia.

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