Food intolerances and allergies: a dedicated clinic at San Raffaele

Food intolerances and allergies: a dedicated clinic at San Raffaele

Publication date: 25-12-2021

Updated on: 14-02-2023

Topic: Nutrition

Estimated reading time: 1 min

They often have similar symptoms and are difficult to distinguish. A multidisciplinary clinic for correct management of food allergies and intolerances is born at the San Raffaele Hospital

More and more frequently we hear about food allergies and intolerances, sometimes these concepts overlap each other. It is important to clarify and distinguish one from the another in order to define a diet that guarantees a well-being of a person.

A multidisciplinary clinic was born at the San Raffaele Hospital for the integrated allergological and gastroenterological assessment and for the correct management of food allergies and intolerances.

Food allergies and intolerances: what they are and what’s the difference

Food allergies are adverse reactions to foods caused by an immunological mechanism: when a certain food is ingested, which is considered harmful by our organism, an impropriate immunological reaction is triggered by the food.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, are adverse reactions to food that can derive from:

  • enzyme deficiencies;
  • unbalanced diets;
  • use of antibiotics;
  • alterations of the intestinal microbiota.


Potential confusion between food allergies and intolerances mainly arises from the fact that the clinical pictures and the severity of symptoms of both clinical conditions, although variable, are very often overlapping.

For both diseases the main symptoms are:

  • abdominal pain;
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea;
  • bloating in the stomach.

“Symptoms that appear after eating a pizza could derive from an intolerance to lactose or gluten, but also to other constituents such as histamine and, albeit more rarely, from an allergy to cow's milk proteins or wheat proteins. Therefore, the diagnosis is not simple and patients must be examined from several points of view”, explain Dr. Emanuela Ribichini, gastroenterologist and nutritionist, and Dr. Sandro Passaretti, Head of UOS of Digestive Pathophysiology, both of the San Raffaele Hospital.

Multidisciplinary clinic

“When disorders mainly involve the gastrointestinal system, being able to make a certain diagnosis can become difficult and the complexity of foods does not help,” explains Dr. Mona-Rita Yacoub, coordinator of the allergological area of ​​the San Raffaele Hospital.

For this reason, at the San Raffaele Hospital a Multidisciplinary Outpatient Clinic for Food Allergies and Intolerances was opened, which belongs to the Rheumatology, Allergology and Rare Diseases Unit, led by Professor Lorenzo Dagna and to the Gastroenterology and Digestive Endoscopy Unit, led by Professor Silvio Danese.

Thanks to an integrated allergological and gastroenterological assessment, it is possible to outline a personalized diagnostic-therapeutic path that avoids unjustified food exclusions and unbalanced diets from a nutritional point of view, often dictated by tests that are not scientifically validated.

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