Types of Food Allergies that You Must Know
Food is everywhere around us, from restaurants to slow-cooked meals at home. It is easily accessible for consumption to the public, but what many of us forget to realize is that there are people with food allergies that make it difficult for them to fully experience different foods. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website, fifteen million people in the United States have some sort of food allergy and children are more likely to experience it, affecting about six million in the general population.
With all of the different kinds of food allergies out there, it is important to know about them in order to take preventable measures to avoid them from creating a severe, sometimes even fatal, reaction. Here is a list of food allergies to get you started.
Making up the majority of food allergies is the nut family, consisting of peanuts and tree nuts such as cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios. About one to three percent of the population has this particular allergy. Not only does one need to avoid consuming whole nuts, but also products which contain the ingredient, including baked goods, spreads (e.g. peanut butter, Nutella), and flavored foods like coffee and ice cream. Most children with nut allergies rarely outgrow it, thus having to avoid nuts and its products in their lifetime.
Eggs, milk, and cheese: these are just a few products that people who are allergic to dairy cannot consume. It affects about two to three percent of children, but decreases to 0.5 percent in adults. This allergy is caused by the body’s reaction to a specific protein in milk (e.g. alpha S1-casein), which can lead to anaphylaxis (symptoms include swelling, itchiness, and shortness of breath). One should not confuse a dairy allergy with lactose intolerance, as the latter is a non-allergic food reaction, often occurring after one consumes dairy products in high quality.
This category includes fish and shellfish (e.g. lobster, shrimp, crab), and it affects less than one percent of children, but almost three percent of adults. Like with milk, seafood allergies are caused by a sensitive reaction to the proteins found in the shellfish (or fish) product, which can cause anaphylaxis. Fortunately, if caught in time, one can treat it with epinephrine, injected into the bloodstream through the use of an EpiPen.
While not a very common food allergy (it only affects about 0.2 percent of the population), nevertheless it is a severely-limiting one in which one cannot consume items like bread, pasta, or rice. It is very difficult to find dishes that do not contain at least traces of wheat, and so much care is necessary to ensure that the individual who has a wheat allergy does not consume products made from it. Some people might choose to substitute with alternative types of cereals, such as buckwheat, quinoa, and corn meal.
Soy allergies are caused by products made from soy beans, including soy milk, soy sauce, and even those in canned foods, soup, and other processed foods. Many fast-food restaurants tend to use extracts of soy in their foods, so it is necessary to avoid eating such items. Fortunately, children who have this food allergy tend to outgrow it by the age of ten.