Food Allergy and Food Intolerance: A Hazard of Human Health

Sarbajit Ray


Food Allergy and Food Intolerance: A Hazard of Human Health



Food Allergy:          

                     The term ‘Allergy’ is basically defined as an immune response that takes place after eating a particular food. Food allergy is also known as food hypersensitivity. From long past, as humans changed their food habit and became omnivorous for the availability of more food, food allergy has become a companion of them. The interesting thing about food allergy is that, different people can be allergic to different food items. It is not necessary that all the people are susceptible to a particular food item. And also, people never come to know if he or she is allergic to a particular food item before they consume it for the first time.


1.    Reasons:

                     Food allergies can be hereditary, ie they pass from parents to offspring. But most of the time it is not hereditary. The substance present in the particular food item that cause allergic reactions is called allergen. Allergen is commonly a protein. When this protein is ingested and after its absorption in the intestine, comes into the blood stream, it stimulates the immune system, causing histamine and other chemicals to be released and starts immunological reaction. The immune system reacts to an allergen by producing IgE antibody. These antibodies move mainly to nose, throat, lungs, skin and start allergic reactions like swelling, secretion etc.

Fig 1: Mechanism of development of food allergy

1.    Symptoms:

                     Symptoms of allergy can develop within a few seconds to few hours. The symptoms of food allergy are of a wide range. The general symptoms are swelling of cheeks, lips throat and skin. Squeezing of respiratory tract which leads to breathing problems, itching of eyes, development of rashes on skin, dry cough, watery nose, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain etc.


Commonly Known Allergic Foods:

·       Milk (casein)

·       Wheat (Gluten)

·       Eggs

·       Meat

·       Shellfish

·       Brinjal

·       Soy

·       peanuts

Fig 2: Food allergens



               Currently there is no effective therapy for food allergies. Needless to say, a person is not allergic to all the food items. So, the best way is to avoid that particular food to which the person is prone to allergy. The development of treatment procedure is going on. Some of the effective treatment options for future would be:

·       Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)

·       Introduction of antihistamines

·       Oral Immunotherapy

·       Vaccination. Like if the weakened allergen is introduced continuously to the patient’s body, he or she develops tolerance.


Genetic Engineering to treat Food Allergy:

                To treat food allergy, genetic engineering can play a major role. The allergic gene in the food item can be removed by ‘molecular scissor’. Or the mRNA produced by that gene can be inactivated by RNAi (RNA interference or RNA silencing) technology. The product of the gene, ie the allergic protein can be destroyed by introducing suitable ligand molecules. Thus anti-allergic strains of the food items can be produced.


Food Intolerance:

                  Food intolerance is a situation where an individual is unable to digest a particular compound of a food item because of lack of the functional enzyme for digesting the compound. Therefore, if they intake that particular food item, they suffer from indigestion. Nowadays, lactose intolerance is seen in many children, they are unable to digest milk sugar lactose which is composed of two sugar units, one galactose and one glucose. Enzyme lactase hydrolyze the lactose to form galactose and glucose. But lactose intolerant individuals do not have this lactase enzyme.

Fig 3: Reason of food intolerance


Some common compounds that can be intolerant:

·       Lactose (Milk products)

·       Gluten (Wheat)

·       Caffeine

·       Salicylates

·       Amines

·       FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polysaccharides)

·       Sulfites

·       Fructose


Fig 4: Some common food items that cause food intolerance


                Maldigestion, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, feeling lethargic and tired, headache, constipation, diarrhea etc.



·       Ingestion of those food items should be limited, avoiding the food is most preferable.

·       The food can be reacted with the particular enzyme synthesized outside the body by biotechnological methods. After this the product can be marketed for those who are intolerant to the particular food. Eg: dairy products can be treated with lactase before marketing.

·       Gene therapy is also a solution. But it’s not practical because gene therapy is possible only in embryo stage and also, the person can easily live his or her life avoiding that food item.


Fun Events!!

Sarbajit Ray


Bioskribble 2.0: 12th November 2020 

Second edition of online game of pictionary based on biology and conducted on the domain,

Apocalypse: 24th October 2020

Brainstorming event about finding solutions to save earth from impending catastrophe using biological skills.

BioPlot: 9th-10th Sep 2020

Conducted in collaboration with the film society of VIT which was a scriptwriting contest based on biological phenomena.

BioSkribble 1.0: 4th September 2020

An online game of pictionary based on biology and conducted on the domain,

Amemeba: 24th and 25th August

A science meme contest wherein participants had to submit memes inspired by foundations of STEM and they were judged on creativity and relevance. 

Microbite: 20th August

An online quiz on vectors and vector borne diseases.


Sarbajit Ray


BioTalks 5.0: 2nd September 2020

Dr Munish Chhabra (Research scientist, Molecular Assemblies, San Diego, California) shared his experience and delivered a lecture on life as a research scientist and opportunities that could be undertaken by aspiring researchers.

BioTalks 4.0: 26th August 2020

Dr Bhargav Patel from Gujarat Forensic Sciences Uni delivered a lecture on DNA fingerprinting and its role in forensic sciences. 

BioEpitome' 20

Sarbajit Ray

Abstract writing contest in collaboration with SBE-UIET wherein every participant had to submit an elaborative abstract of an article of their choice and they were judged based on the originality, comprehension of description and presentation.

Deadline: 31st July 2020

“Pharma Industry: the front line saviour”- 30th June 2020

Sarbajit Ray

Talk by Mr Ravichandran (VP, Manufacturing dept.,Malladi Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.) on the pharma industry, in collaboration with IIChE. The talk was about the predicaments of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in times of medical emergencies like the present times, as well as normally.

CASA: Campaign Against Substance - 26th June 2020

Sarbajit Ray

 It was A collaborative even with AIChe, ASME, ASCE, Comedy Club, Toastmasters, YRC of VIT in which board of all the clubs and chapters participated as the panel in a round table conference and present their topic in order to curb the rising abuse of substances.

"NetMeet n learn"

Sarbajit Ray

Episode 4 (18th October 2020)

Wonderful disquisition on biodegradation of plastic to reduce marine pollution and application of enzymes in food biotechnology which was followed by interactive one to one discussion.

Episode 3 (25th May 2020)

Lecture given on recent stem cell based therapy and crispr technology with its application in Covid-19. 

Episode 2 (12th May 2020)

Student lectures on trending biotech topics related to immunity and ageing and how RT-PCR used for current pandemic Covid-19 test.

                                                            Episode 1 (3rd May 2020)

Informative interactive session on bioproduction of biofuel from CO2 by cyanobacteria and how Vitamin C, curcumin and glycyrrhizic acid potentially regulates Immune and inflammatory response associated with Corona virus.


Sarbajit Ray

SBE-VIT, is a family of around 60 members majorly students of B Tech Biotechnology!!  


Dr. Debasish Mishra
Faculty Coordinator, SBE-VIT

Shreya Teredesai
Chair, SBE-VIT

Shambhavi Sharma
Vice Chair (Internal), SBE-VIT

Siddharth Padmanabhan
Vice Chair (Outreach), SBE-VIT

Sunrito Mitra
General Secretary, SBE-VIT

Sugata Lahiri
Projects Head, SBE-VIT

Priyanka Shenoy
Editorial Head, SBE-VIT

Sarbajit Ray
Design Head, SBE-VIT

Badri Prasad Sarangi
Treasurer, SBE-VIT 

Ria Sachdeva
Technical and Events Head, SBE-VIT

Shraddha Bajpai
Media and PR Head, SBE-VIT

Udita Arora
Operations Head, SBE-VIT

Suraj Nandi
Marketing Head, SBE-VIT


Sarbajit Ray

The Society for Biological Engineering of VIT Vellore (SBE-VIT) is an eminent Biotechnology-based student chapter that aims to bring together like-minded passionate people in the field of Biotechnology. Previously functioning under AIChe, SBE crossed its first milestone when it was established as a separate student chapter in 2018. Since then SBE-VIT has conducted various events on the university level, attracting internal and external students alike, from varied branches of study. SBE aims to hold more such conferences, seminars and events to promote common interests and encourage young intellectuals to create a mark among the budding and growing scientific communities.

Presently, SBE-VIT has near about 60 active members mostly B Tech Biotechnology students. SBE-VIT conducts events regularly based on biotechnology and many interdisciplinary subjects surrounding biology. 

SBE-VIT is under the guidance of Dr, Debasish Mishra, Professor of biomimicry and bioinspired design at VIT. His research interest lies in finding tangible, affordable and sustainable solutions to concurrent biomedical problems.

Biojeopardy 2.0

Sarbajit Ray

Ever thought answering questions was fun? 

If not, we have the right event for you.

SBE is back with the second edition of its unique event Biojeopardy! This is a classic game show with a twist in which participants have to come up with questions for the answers displayed. Wear your thinking caps and put your knowledge on biology, biotechnology and general knowledge to the test. Speed and accuracy is the key, as cash prizes worth upto Rs 2000 are up for grabs!