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An abnormal sensitivity to a specific substance - such as a type of food, pollen etc. Normally, when hostile substances enter the blood, the immune system promptly reacts by producing antibodies to engulf and destroy them. In allergic conditions, however, the immune system reacts with the same hostility to certain "innocent" substances, releasing histamine. This can cause a wide variety of distressing symptoms, from a simple rash to headaches and hypertension.

The most common allergenic foods are chocolate, cows" milk, eggs, oranges, tomatoes and wheat. Surveys show people have least reaction to avocados and peas.

Some nutritionists believe that allergies may be caused by nutrient deficiencies, and recommend doses of vitamin C and Quercetin, both potent antihistamines - plus vitamin B6, Calcium, vitamin E and Zinc See 'Allergies, Food'; "Alternative Medicine"; "Food Sensitivity"

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