Food allergies were barely an issue for our grandparents and great-grandparents, so why are they suddenly so common? Many believe they’re caused by exposure to many new chemicals, which never existed until recently.
Though we aren’t 100 percent sure why food allergies are on the rise, there is no doubt they are becoming more and more prevalent each day.
In fact, today an estimated 15 million people have some form of food allergy and this number is rising.
Here are five fast facts about food allergies you probably didn’t know:
- There was a 50 percent increase in food allergy prevalence between 1997 and 2011.
- Eight foods makeup 90 percent of allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
- Boys are more likely to develop allergies than girls
- Allergies children are likely to outgrow include: milk, eggs, wheat, and soy.
- Lifelong allergies include: peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish.
There are no known cures for food allergies, though with careful maintenance and allergen avoidance, most can learn to deal with their condition effectively.
What Happens to Your Body During an Allergic Reaction?
There is a pretty good chance you may experience an allergic reaction to food at some point in your life. About 25 percent of all people experience allergic reactions to food. However, just because you experience an allergic reaction doesn’t mean you’ll develop an allergy – it may just be a one time thing.
The difference between a food allergic reaction and a food intolerance is that when you suffer an allergic reaction, your immune system is involved. Food intolerance occurs when your digestive system doesn’t agree with what you ate.
What happens during an allergic reaction is that your immune systems sees the food as a danger to your body and triggers a release of histamine from your mast cells. Histamine is what causes inflammation through expanding your small blood vessels, called your capillaries. This reaction happens to increase blood flow so your white blood cells can get to the problem areas.
In the case of an allergic reaction your body overreacts to a food and causes inflammation, which results in wheezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose, and sometimes hives and a closing throat.
Your immune system remembers when there’s been a histamine release. So whenever you consume that same food your immune system cranks the histamine up and each time reacts more readily.
The Problem with Food Allergies
The problem with food allergies is they cause an inflammatory response throughout your body. And inflammation is a known precursor to many diseases.
Conditions you are more likely to suffer from when you have food allergies include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Learning disabilities
- Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Weight gain
- Kidney and gallbladder problems
Additionally, even if you have an allergy which never develops into full-blown anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction where the throat closes), you may struggle with low-level inflammation.
Chronic low-level inflammation can make you feel terrible. It can also contribute to a number of illnesses, including those listed above.
Ditch These Allergens – It’s Not Worth It!
Studies have found you can reduce your disease risk through reducing and controlling inflammation in the body. One of the best ways you can reduce inflammation is through eliminating your allergen intake.
The following foods are known allergens. Many of them are foods you know should be avoided, but maybe didn’t realize they can cause chronic inflammation due to an allergic response in the body.
If you suffer from any chronic health conditions, I recommend eliminating the following known allergens from your diet to see how it impacts your health.
- Gluten & Wheat – The reason gluten is receiving so much negative media attention is due to the chronic inflammation it can cause as a result of an allergic reaction. Between 20 to 45 percent of all adults experience hypersensitivity to gluten. That’s a staggering amount of people who are suffering at the hands of an allergen which can easily be removed from their diet.
Even non-celiac people benefit from removing gluten from their diet. I recommend removing gluten from your diet even if you haven’t tested positive for celiac, and especially if you have any chronic health conditions.
- Cow’s Milk – An estimated two to seven percent of all children are allergic to cow’s milk. Though most outgrow a strong allergic response and can tolerate cow’s milk with age, it could still be causing low-level inflammation in the gut. If you suspect you’re allergic to cow’s milk you can be tested by your doctor with a simple skin test.
- Peanuts & Tree Nuts – Peanuts are known for their strong allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. About one percent of children and 0.6 percent of adults are allergic to peanuts. Tree nut allergies include pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, coconut, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts.
- Eggs – Those who are allergic to eggs are usually allergic to a protein called ovomucoid, found in the egg whites. Similar to milk allergies, this predominantly impacts children who can grow out of the allergy with age. It’s estimated between 0.5 and 2.5 percent of children have an egg allergy.
- Soy – Candidly, even if you aren’t allergic to soy, I recommend eliminating it from your diet. Soybeans are mostly GMO, high in Roundup, and in phytoestrogens. Beyond that, many children are allergic to soy, about 0.4 percent. Soy is an allergy which can go unnoticed for many years.
- Fish & Shellfish – Shellfish is another allergen known for its strong allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Up to five percent of the population is allergic to shellfish such as shrimp, krill, lobsters, and crabs. Most people never outgrow their shellfish allergy. Fish allergies can be developed later in life. In fact, the prevalence of fish allergies in the general population is between 0.2 and 2.29 percent, while among fish workers there’s a prevalence of 8 percent.
Remember, these allergens make up 90 percent of all food allergies. I suspect there are many people with conditions like asthma or leaky gut who would significantly benefit from eliminating top allergens from their diet.
Our office offers allergy testing on a wide variety of foods , spices , molds , gluten and environmental triggers. Give us a call today to see if allergens are contributing to chronic symptoms – 817-912-1600.
You could even give each a test run and see how you feel after you’ve eliminated each for a few months.
If you or someone you know struggles with their health, consider the possibility of a low-grade allergic reaction to food – it’s more common that you think.