By Fredrica Syren:
Living with a food allergy can be challenging and may cause great discomfort. My husband and daughter suffer from milk allergies, one of the most common food allergies. They are not alone, unfortunately. In the U.S. today, 6 percent of children under the age of 5, and 4 percent of adults are affected by a food allergy. And the numbers are increasing.
Food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a normally harmless protein in a food; the body, thinking it’s under attack, reacts. Signs and symptoms of a reaction can be digestive discomfort, hives and swollen airways. In severe cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.
Food allergies sometimes are confused with the more common food intolerance reaction, which is much less severe.
The eight most common food allergies are:
· Tree Nuts
According to a research by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pesticides and chemicals in tap water can be causing the rise of food allergies in the US. Dr. Sami Bahna, professor and the Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, has an opinion about allergies and their increase. Dr. Bahna feels that the extensive use of antibiotics and antibacterial cleansers, along with the chemical elimination of bacterial and parasitic threats from water and waste, contribute to the rise of food allergies. Basically, we’re too clean and healthy, so the immune system has taken to attacking foreign food proteins as if they are invading bacteria.
Most children will outgrow milk, egg, soy and wheat allergies according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Meanwhile, it’s really important to remember to
· read ingredient lists to make sure there are no “hidden” allergenic foods;
· inform school and teachers about allergies;
· when eating in restaurants, ask about ingredients and inform the chef of allergies; and
· when in doubt, err on the safe side — don’t eat it.