Foods are life-giving substances, except if your body is allergic to them. Here are the eight food allergies that can negatively affect your health.
1. Egg allergy
Some individuals who are allergic to eggs will outgrow it by adulthood, while some will continue to experience its symptoms—stomach pains, rashes, hives and respiratory problems—until then.
Individuals with egg allergies could be allergic to the proteins found in the egg whites or egg yolks, though more people are allergic to the former. It is also interesting to note that different individuals with egg allergies have unique reactions to egg-based products. Studies have shown that some children with egg allergies can safely eat biscuits wherein egg is a primary ingredient. In some cases, the severity of the allergic reaction could be reduced by slowly introducing eggs to children in the form of baked goods. However, this should never be done without a paediatrician’s approval and guidance because of the potentially severe reaction an egg allergy can produce.
2. Cow’s milk allergy
Around 2% to 3% of children worldwide are allergic to cow’s milk, with the higher percentages being children who were given cow’s milk before the age of 6 months. While the majority will outgrow this allergy, around 10% will not.
There are two possible reactions involved in cow’s milk allergy: the lgE-mediated reaction and the non-lgE-mediated reaction. The former is the more serious of the two, which results in rashes, swelling and vomiting within 30 minutes after ingesting cow’s milk. The latter is more subtle and results in constipation, diarrhoea, inflammation and vomiting. Often, the non-lgE-mediated reaction is considered as an intolerance. It is difficult to diagnose, and many individuals might not even be aware that they have it.
3. Tree nuts allergy
Those who suffer from tree nut allergies will usually have an adverse reaction to anything that contains this product, including nut oils. Even if a person is allergic to only one type of nut, they will usually be advised to avoid all tree nuts, as an allergy to one tree nut can heighten their chances of developing an allergy to other tree nuts.
A tree nut allergy can produce a severe reaction—those with tree nut allergies have the highest risk for anaphylaxis—but this isn’t always the case. An allergic reaction to a tree nut can be as subtle as a rash or stomach ache that strikes almost immediately after you consume anything that contains a tree nut product. Detecting a tree nut allergy is difficult, but blood tests can help you know for sure if this is the reason behind your discomfort.
4. Peanut allergy
Many people assume that peanuts fall into the tree nuts category, but they are legumes, not tree nuts! Those with a peanut allergy have a higher chance of being allergic to tree nuts, too.
5. Shellfish allergy
A shellfish allergy is an adverse reaction of your immune system to the proteins found in shellfish, including shrimp, lobster, scallops and squid. To be more precise, it is the protein called tropomyosin that is the culprit in most shellfish allergies.
While some reactions to shellfish can be quite severe, most of the reactions are not life-threatening, and very similar to ingesting a contaminant. The milder reactions may include stomach pains, diarrhoea and/or vomiting. These digestive issues could lead the affected person to assume that his/her reaction was a one-off thing when, in fact, he/she may need to exclude shellfish from his/her diet altogether.
An interesting fact about this allergy is that it is not only the eating of shellfish that can trigger a negative reaction, but the steam from cooking it as well. Because of this, individuals who have shellfish allergy might feel unwell even before they have eaten any of it.
6. Soy allergy
An allergy to soy usually produces a range of physical reactions, including a tingly mouth, runny nose and even breathing difficulties. Most children who are allergic to soy will eventually outgrow it, but some won’t.
7. Wheat allergy
It is the proteins in wheat that cause the allergic reaction in those with a wheat allergy, and children are the ones who are affected most severely. An allergy to wheat can trigger mild reactions such as hives and digestive problems, or a severe reaction like anaphylaxis. It is often mistaken as coeliac’s disease, which triggers similar reactions. Those who have a wheat allergy will need to steer clear of anything containing wheat, but they can tolerate gluten; individuals with coeliac disease cannot.
If you have a wheat allergy, avoiding wheat-based food products is not enough. You must also avoid using skin care products containing wheat. Some natural skin care products like lipsticks or face creams may include wheat-derived ingredients that may trigger a negative reaction for those with wheat allergy.
8. Fish allergy
Fish allergies affect up to 2% of people worldwide, and it can strike anytime in a person’s life. The symptoms of a fish allergy range from moderate to very severe. In rare cases, it may result in death.
Like shellfish allergy, the smell of fish being cooked is enough to trigger an immune reaction in affected individuals. The proteins in fish that your body is allergic to can travel through the air during cooking. Once inhaled, the affected person may experience wheezing and shortness of breath. It is worth noting that the proteins in shellfish and finned fish are different, so a person who is allergic to one might not be allergic to the other.
Know what you eat for your wellbeing’s sake
Failing to connect your allergic reactions to your dietary choices will put you at risk of experiencing them over and over again. It can also put your life at risk. Lastly, it makes it difficult for you to make informed decisions about your health and wellbeing. The solution? Pay more attention to your diet and how your body reacts to what you eat. This is the first step to determine whether you have any of these eight food allergies, and how you should manage them.