Food allergies are fairly common affecting an estimated five percent of adults and eight percent of children. According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than 160 foods are known to cause allergies. Determining what allergens may affect you and cutting out these allergens can lead to better health.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
Millions of people experience an allergic reaction to food every year. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- Flushed skin
- Itchy sensation in the throat and/or mouth
- Face, lips, or tongue swelling
- Coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat
Symptoms of an allergic reaction as listed above may be so mild that they aren’t linked to a food allergen. This may lead to an individual feeling unwell for years without realizing that their poor health is due to an allergen.
Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening and lead to anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock is a serious allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. When a person eats a food and experiences anaphylaxis, the airways in the lungs begin to constrict, blood pressure levels drop and the throat begins to swell. Without emergency treatment, the throat can swell to the extent that suffocation occurs.
Though over 160 foods cause allergic reactions in consumers, only eight of these are required to be identified on food labels by the FDA. Commonly referred to as the Big-8, these eight foods are most likely to cause health problems and allergic reactions. These eight foods include:
- Tree nuts
- Crustacean shellfish
Allergies versus Food Sensitivities and Food Intolerance
A true food allergy causes the immune system to react by attacking various organs in the body. Food sensitivities or intolerance differs in that they are typically less serious. Most people who experience sensitivity with a certain food may have digestive problems, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. People with food sensitivities often report feeling brain fog, having frequent headaches, and severe fatigue.
Food intolerance isn’t caused by the body’s immune system reacting to a certain food. Instead, symptoms from food sensitivities or intolerance arise due to an absence of a necessary enzyme, Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, sensitivity to an additive to the food, or psychological factors.
Doctors recommend an elimination diet to determine what foods you may be allergic or sensitive to. To try an elimination diet, make a list of the foods that you suspect you may be causing problems. Eliminate these foods one at a time from your diet for two to four weeks. If the food you are eliminating is accidentally eaten, you will need to start your timeline again. Keep a careful log of how you feel and any symptoms you experience.
If your symptoms don’t go away after four weeks, try eliminating another food. If you experience an absence of symptoms during this time, this food is most likely one that is causing problems.
Those who have gluten intolerance, allergy, or Celiac disease benefit when they eliminate gluten from their diet. Celiac disease is a condition where the body develops an allergy or intolerance toward gluten, an ingredient found in cereal grains. Wheat is the most prevalent source of gluten. You will want to make sure to add things like gluten free bread from your diet.
Treatment of Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for food allergies or food sensitivities. Avoiding problematic foods is the only way to stay symptom-free. If a severe reaction to a food allergy occurs, it is critical that an auto-injector is used and/or 911 is called immediately.
People with food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerance can live with their condition by taking precautions. Carefully read all food labels to determine if an allergen exists in the food; if it does, don’t take a chance and don’t eat this food item. Those with an intolerance, such as lactose intolerance, can find some relief by taking the missing enzyme before eating certain foods. Golden milk, milk made by adding turmeric to nut milk, maybe helpful by reducing inflammation in the body caused by allergic reactions.
Don’t suffer from a food allergy any longer. Try determining what allergens bother you and eliminate them from your diet completely. Doing so will allow you to live a better life with improved health.