Foods and Allergies

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Millions of people have allergic reactions to various foods that may be mild or life threatening, and there are over 160 foods that can cause allergies in people who have food allergies.

The foods below account for 90 percent of food allergens that can cause allergies:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Tree Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • Fish such as cod, flounder and bass
  • Shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and crab

Food allergens have no cure and should be avoided as soon as they have been detected so as to prevent dangerous health consequences.

In 2004 congress passed an important law called the “Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004” since it was found that 2 percent of the adult population and approximately 5 percent of young infants and children suffer from allergies that are food related, and that an estimated 30,000 people end up in the emergency room each year, of which 150 die from food allergies.

As a result the FDA has improved the labeling method used to put on the labels so that these food allergens can quickly be detected on a food product label.

<u>Food Allergy Verses Food Intolerance</u>

So let’s expose and set straight the difference between a Food Allergy and Food Intolerance.

A Food Allergy is a response received from a person’s immune system.  The body will mistake a food, usually a protein, as a harmful ingredient and will create antibodies to fight it, which is when the allergy symptoms show up.

Below are some symptoms of Food Allergies that can be mild or severe.  These are:

  • Stomach Pain and Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Rash and Hives
  • Chest Pain and Shortness of Breath
  • Itchy Skin
  • Shortness of Breath

On the other hand Food Intolerance is a response from the Digestive System and not from the Immune System.  When a person cannot properly digest and breakdown a food, or if a type of food irritates the digestive system, then it is called “Food Intolerance”.  The most common Food Intolerance is “Lactose Intolerance” that comes from milk and usually dairy products.

Some symptoms of Food Intolerance are:

  • Heartburn and Vomiting
  • Stomach Pain and Diarrhea
  • Gas and Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness & Irritability

Food Intolerances are more common than Food Allergies and they can affect approximately 10% of the population, since almost everyone has had an unpleasant food reaction at some point in time.

Ways to Live With Food Allergies and Working Your Way Around them:

  1. Find out what product or products you are allergic to
  2. Read every label on all products you plan to purchase
  3. Look at the details on restaurant menus and always ask your waiter for the ingredients of the meal you are ordering
  4. Stay away from one or all of the 8 Allergens described above, especially if you are still unfamiliar which one it is that causes the allergy you have.
  5. Get help from a specialized Food Allergy doctor.
  6. When you are out with friends always ask them the ingredients they used to prepare the meal you are going to eat, that way you will know most probably what foods contain the allergens you are allergic to, and so maybe that way you will be able to avoid eating them.
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