Sometimes, the food we eat leads to allergies, which are serious and dangerous. At the same time, highly restrictive diets can be tough on people.
For instance, there is food colouring even in some cheeses and gluten in soy sauce. They can also be unhealthy. To avoid malnutrition, fatigue or low bone density, doctors recommend people who start removing ingredients from their diets consult a nutritionist for advice.
What’s food allergy ?
It is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system. Allergic reactions to food can sometimes cause serious illness and death. The FDA estimates that two per cent of adults and up to eight per cent of young children have some form of food allergies. Childhood allergies are a common and growing problem. Sometimes, a reaction to food is not an allergy. It is often called “food intolerance”.
The exact reason behind the rise of allergies is unknown. But evidence suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is at the root of most allergies. Hence, it is advisable that a single new food should be introduced to a child rather than multiple new options.
“Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening and may include, hives, itching, swelling of the face, lips, tongue and/or eyes, diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps, itching and tightness of throat, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock,” says Dr Richa Anand, dietician, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai.
In case you feel that you may be allergic to a certain food:
* Eliminate the food that you suspect from your diet and check if the reactions stop.
* Challenge the food by consuming it and check for adverse reactions.
* Do a skin allergy test.
Ensure that any of the above options are done after consulting a doctor. Also, once the allergic food has been found, make sure that the same is eliminated from your diet.
In adults, the most common foods to cause allergic reactions include: shellfish such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crab; peanuts, a legume that is one of the chief foods to cause severe anaphylaxis, a sudden drop in blood pressure that can be fatal if not treated quickly; tree nuts such as walnuts; fish; and eggs.
In children, the pattern is somewhat different. The most common food allergens that cause problems in children are eggs, milk, and peanuts. Adults usually do not lose their allergies, but children can sometimes outgrow them. Children are more likely to outgrow allergies to milk or soy than allergies to peanuts, fish, or shrimp.
Peanuts: are the main source of severe allergic reactions. Peanut allergies can be so extreme that just being in the same room with one can cause someone to go into anaphylactic shock. Peanuts are found in so many items, as frying oils, flavoured nuts, etc.
Shellfish/fish: Allergy to shellfish is quite common and a number of different types of shellfish can cause reactions in people who are sensitive. For example, shrimps, prawns, lobster, crab, crayfish, oysters, scallops, mussels and clams. People who are allergic to one type of shellfish often find that they react to other types. Adults are more likely to have an allergic reaction to fish and shellfish than children, which is probably because adults will have eaten these foods more often. Shellfish allergy can often cause severe reactions, and some people can react to the vapours from cooking shellfish. Cooking doesn’t destroy fish allergens. In fact, some people with fish allergy can be allergic to cooked but not raw fish.
Milk: Lactose is a sugar found naturally in milk. It’s important to distinguish between lactose intolerance and milk allergy, because milk allergy can cause severe reactions. Lactose intolerance is actually an enzymatic problem where the enzyme lactase cannot split the milk protein lactose into glucose and galactose. This leads to digestive system pain more often than swollen or clogged airways. Milk products are obviously in and ice-cream, but can also appear in sauces and as butter on steaks and other meats. Adults with lactose intolerance can often have a small amount of milk without getting any symptoms.
Eggs: Egg allergy is more common in childhood and about half the children who have it will grow out of it by the age of three. In a few cases, egg allergy can cause anaphylaxis. Cooking can destroy some of these allergens, but not others. So some people might react to cooked eggs, as well as raw eggs. Occasionally, someone might react to egg because they have an allergy to chicken, quail or turkey meat, or to bird feathers. This is called bird-egg syndrome. Also, those with egg allergies should avoid most pastas and foamy products, as egg is occasionally used as a stabiliser for coffee foams, among others.
Soy: allergies are probably most difficult for vegetarians, as it is often used as a protein alternative in things such as tofu. One has to be especially careful about food cooked in soyabean oil or Chinese food cooked using soya sauce. It can also be found in peanut butters, soups, infant formulas, etc.
Wheat: For those with celiac, anything containing gluten, including wheat, can lead to adverse reactions. However, for those with wheat allergies, only wheat makes a person react. Wheat is often used as a stabiliser in everything — from soups to biscuits — and it can be difficult to dodge. People with wheat allergies need to abstain from everything — from wheat breads to soy sauce with wheat.
The Times Of India & Allergy related internet sites
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