An allergy is not a rare disease. In fact, almost everyone has antihistamines at home, and it’s sometimes easy to predict when you’ll have a coughing fit after a dust storm. However, in some cases, an allergy can affect the way we enjoy one of the world’s most pleasurable experiences: food.
Food allergy-related cases could increase due to various factors, such as changes in eating habits and food production, incorporation of products from other cultures into the local diet, increase in the number of caesarean sections, and changes in the bacterial flora (microbiome) of humans.
From birth to death, we are all exposed to the environment in which we live, and our health will depend on the ability of our immune response to influence the impact of the diseases we contract. The immune system’s role is to ensure the proper internal functioning of our body, just like the security services, our military police, in charge of controlling our customs, allowing the passage of beneficial substances, while avoiding harmful agents that damage our body, such as viruses and bacteria.
An allergy is simply a “bad reaction” to certain “substances”, the allergens. These are elements with which we are regularly in contact (dust, plants, animals, food, medicines, etc.). They should not alter our immune system. However, it results in inflammatory reactions, which cause the typical allergy symptoms. These symptoms depend on the substance responsible. For example, rhinitis and conjunctivitis are caused by olive tree pollen (inflammation of the nose and eyes), asthma is caused by dust mites (inflammation of the bronchi), and a skin rash (urticaria) may appear following the ingestion of a peach (inflammation of the skin)
Allergies are the result of sensitization that causes the production of antibodies, which is not the case with intolerances. Thus, the term “sun allergy” is incorrect: there are no antibodies against ultraviolet radiation. The same is true for lactose, which causes an enzymatic reaction without antibodies.
But in this case … Why is this mistake being made? There is really no single cause, but an allergy is probably the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What’s more, these must develop at some point, for example, around childhood. When one of these agents is recognized as an enemy to us, and our body overreacts, we experience the symptoms of an allergy, ranging from a skin rash to life-threatening shortness of breath. According to scientists, the world today is more sanitized than in the last century. Therefore, this situation prevents us from having our first contact with particles responsible for sensitivity, which in turn makes us more susceptible to allergies. All this is very complicated!
Almost anything can cause an allergy, but the most common food allergies are caused by the following foods:
This allergy usually occurs during childhood (in the first few months) and in many cases, the allergy disappears after a few years. The only solution is to replace milk and dairy products with other products that are not of animal origin, such as soy milk, almonds, rice, etc.
This allergy often occurs during childhood and usually disappears when the child is between one and two years old. An estimated 70% of children are eventually cured. In adults, the treatment of people with egg allergy is based on maintaining a totally egg-free diet. In this regard, it is important to be vigilant, as many foods contain eggs without the consumer’s knowledge. Thus, eggs are found in pastries, pasta, sauces, cosmetics (when the person is allergic to contact with this product), etc.
Seafood and fish
This is a much more common allergy, especially the allergy to shellfish, which is more common in adults than in children. In the case of fish, most allergies are usually to white fish, and can last a lifetime. Because of this, many restaurants handling fish are very careful not to mix this food with other dishes that do not contain fish.
Nuts, legumes, and grains
Legumes such as soybeans, lentils, peas or chickpeas, but also nuts such as peanuts are the foods that are generally likely to cause allergies. The prevalence of this allergy to cereals is relatively low and often disappears with age. However, we recommend that you pay close attention to the product labels. Traces of nuts are found in many foods. Therefore, special attention is required.
Fruits and vegetables
It is the most common cause of allergic reactions in children over 5 years of age, as well as in adults. Peaches are the most common fruit that can cause an allergic reaction. As for vegetables, lettuce, carrots and tomatoes are the most likely to induce an allergic reaction.
Regarding food intolerances, the most common are those related to gluten, lactose and histamine.
The allergy is caused by a glycoprotein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. When ingesting gluten, people with celiac disease will experience an inflammatory reaction in the intestine, resulting in weight loss, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, etc.
It is a sugar present in all mammalian milk (cow, goat, sheep). People who are lactose intolerant do not have enough lactase enzymes in the small intestine to digest all the lactose consumed by foods that pass through the large intestine. This can result in pain, abdominal swelling, etc.
Am I allergic?
You may be wondering if you are allergic to any of the foods. But before you go to a specialist, you need to remember if you have eaten a food or been in contact with a product that could cause some of the reactions we have just mentioned. If you can’t identify the element or factor, then it may be helpful to consult an allergist, the doctor who studies allergies. The latter will carry out a series of
A skin test: the doctor will apply a few drops containing a certain amount of the allergen to which we may be sensitive to the skin of the arm. The basis of this technique is to reproduce in the skin the reaction that we have in other parts of the body.
In addition, blood tests can be performed to quantify and demonstrate more precisely the presence of specific antibodies against this allergen.
In the case of a food, it is sometimes necessary to perform a challenge test, which consists of observing, under medical supervision, the reaction that occurs after ingestion of the food in question.
It is true that there has been an increase in the prevalence of allergies over the years, but at the same time there is greater accessibility to allergy-related information. By being more aware of possible allergy-causing ingredients, a person can avoid a complicated situation. If you are concerned about your health, don’t forget to see your doctor, prevention is the top priority!
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