Lately, a growing number of people are suffering from food allergies and do not know how to best deal with them. Guided by that comprehension, we strongly recommend you to continue reading this text for a few minutes and find out how to win the battle with allergens.
Caused by commonly known or sometimes unknown reasons, food allergies today are more present although we are allegedly producing better quality food and drinking clean water. It is probably due to a number of factors such as poor diet, excessive use of industrial processed foods, genetically modified foods, genetic predisposition, etc. The immune system is one of the most complicated systems in the body and scientists are constantly exploring his way to work and methods for treating various immune disorders including allergies (some of which are food allergies). We’ll give you a brief description of what happens in the body during an allergic reaction, the most common food allergens and how to protect yourself from the effects of allergic reactions.
What is allergy?
Allergy (do not identify it with food intolerance) is a hypersensitivity condition of the body that is characterized by excessive – harmful (sometimes life threatening) immune responses to common dietary components. When our body will bring the allergen to our body, our immune system is activated, it recognizes the allergen as a foreign body, sets the task to destroy and produce appropriate antibodies to remove the allergen. These effects can sometimes be very violent, many antibodies may be produced by releasing histamine, and other active substances involved in the destruction of allergen and can cause swelling of certain parts of the body and result in closure of the airway and if not addressed urgently, it may cause cessation of breathing and death.
What are the most common food allergens?
Protein molecules have the greatest ability to cause allergies (but it does not mean that some other compounds are not able to be allergens). So the most common allergens are proteins from eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, wheat and fish.
Most food allergens can cause allergic reactions even after they are cooked or have undergone digestion in the intestines, although research is showing that more than half of children with milk and egg allergies can tolerate extensively heated milk and egg in baked foods. Some allergens (usually fruits and vegetables) cause allergic reactions in people with a pollen allergy but only if eaten in raw form. Symptoms in these cases are usually limited to the mouth and throat.
Symptoms of food allergy are usually obvious
Mild to moderate symptoms of food allergy include:
- Swelling of face, lips and/or eyes
- Hives or welts on the skin
- Abdominal pain, vomiting
Signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to foods include:
- Difficult/noisy breathing
- Swelling of tongue
- Swelling/tightness in throat
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
- Wheeze or persistent cough
- Persistent dizziness and/or collapse
- Pale and floppy (in young children)
Food allergy can sometimes be dangerous
Although mild, moderate and even severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to foods are common in Australia and New Zealand. However, deaths from anaphylaxis due to food allergy are rare in Australia and New Zealand. Most deaths can be prevented by careful allergen avoidance measures and immediate administration of an adrenaline auto injector.
The most common foods causing life-threatening anaphylaxis are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, milk and egg. Symptoms of anaphylaxis affect our breathing and/or our heart.
Sometimes food allergy may be less obvious
Less common symptoms of food allergy include infantile colic, reflux of stomach contents, eczema, chronic diarrhea and failure to thrive in infants.
Not all adverse reactions to foods are due to allergy
The term allergy is often misused to describe any adverse reaction to foods which results in annoying (but ultimately harmless) symptoms such as headaches after overindulging in chocolate or red wine, or bloating after drinking a milkshake or eating too much pasta. While these reactions are not allergic, the result is a widespread impression that all adverse reactions to foods are trivial.
Adverse reactions to foods that are not allergy include food intolerances, toxic reactions, food poisoning, enzyme deficiencies, food aversion or irritation from skin contact with certain foods. These adverse reactions are often mistaken for food allergy.
How to protect yourself from the effects of allergic reactions?
If you have a severe allergy to a component of certain produce, then the safest thing for you is to remove that produce from your diet and be careful of cross-contamination (allergen can be found in food safety additives). Allergies can sometimes have unpredictable behavior and our body at some point of life can become tolerant to the allergen so if you want you can make a proper allergy test under the supervision of a doctor to see if you are still allergic to the particular substance. However be very careful if you have ever experienced an allergic reaction associated with choking and immediately go to hospital to get an adrenaline injection if you accidentally ate food which has allergen present and feel that the reaction is severe.
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