Food allergies occur when the immune system attacks a food protein. Because the immune system detects and destroys harmful protein-containing bodies like germs, bacteria, and viruses that can make us sick, it sometimes makes a mistake. This can happen when a person eats, smells, or comes into contact with the food he/she has a sensitivity to.
Any food can potentially cause an allergic reaction to certain individuals. But at least 90 percent of allergies are caused by only a handful of foods. Below are the most common.
1. Chicken eggs
Typically, individuals that have an egg allergy react to the egg whites and not the yolk. The allergy comes from ingesting the egg whites, which contains the protein. But to be safe, simply avoid eating eggs. Because even if you separate the whites, the yolk will most likely still have some of the white’s proteins in it.
Someone who has an egg allergy should avoid eggs in all forms such as egg powder, dried eggs, and egg solids. It is best to also check labels and avoid food that contains the following egg proteins: Albumin, Conalbumin, Globulin, Lecithin, Lysozyme, Ovalbumin, Ovomucoid or Ovovitellin
Cooking eggs can destroy some of the proteins, but not all. Some individuals may react only to raw eggs and not cooked eggs, while some will react to both.
Fish allergy is another common food sensitivity that is usually mistaken with an adverse reaction to contaminated fish because the symptoms can be very similar. Cooking doesn't destroy the fish allergens so someone allergic to fish should avoid it at all costs as this can lead to a serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction. In some cases, anaphylaxis can occur. Individuals who have a fish allergy are advised to carry an EpiPen just in case they accidentally inhale fish being cooked or ingest food with fish.
3. Cow's milk
Milk allergy is most common among children and infant. But 90 percent of children usually grow out of it. Symptoms to watch out for includes diarrhea, swelling, rashes, hives, vomiting, and stomach cramps. In some rare cases, it can also cause anaphylaxis. Persons who are allergic to cow’s milk should avoid food that contains milk and milk products such as powdered milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and ice cream.
4. Tree nuts
An allergy to a particular tree nut increases your chances of developing an allergic reaction to other types of tree nuts and can be a lifelong condition. Thus, it is best to avoid tree nuts altogether to be safe. Especially since 50 percent of anaphylaxis related death are caused by nut allergies. Tree nuts include:
Individuals who suffer from a tree nut allergy will also have an allergic reaction to foods and food products that contain these nuts such as nut butter and nut oils.
Peanuts are legumes that grow on the ground. But just like tree nut allergy, they can cause a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction. Most people who have nut allergy are also allergic to peanuts and other legumes like green beans, soybean, kidney beans, and green peas. However, there are individuals who outgrow their peanut allergy. Moreover, there are new proactive treatments where young children are given small doses of peanuts under strict medical supervision in an attempt to desensitize them to allergy.
A shellfish allergy is caused by the body attacking proteins from shellfish like shrimp, lobster, squid, scallops, prawns, crayfish, oysters, clams, and crabs. The trigger for most shellfish allergy is the protein called tropomyosin. The symptoms often manifest quickly like hives, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. An allergy to shellfish is a lifelong condition.
Soy allergy is another common allergy among infants and small children. However, most children--about 70 percent outgrow the allergy. Since soybean is found in most food and food products like tofu, soy sauce, and soy milk, it is best to read food labels and avoid all food that contains soy.
Wheat allergy frequently affects babies and toddlers. It is caused by a sensitivity to any of the hundreds of proteins in wheat and the only treatment is to have a wheat-free diet. But most children do outgrow their allergy before they reach school age.
Wheat allergy is sometimes confused with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity because the most common allergen in wheat is gliadin, which is found in gluten. But gluten sensitivity and celiac disease pose no life-threatening reaction. On the other hand, a wheat allergy causes an immune response in wheat that can be severe and fatal. The only way to test for a wheat allergy is through skin prick testing.
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