11 Most Common Food Allergens You Should Know
More than 50 million Americans have an allergy regarding some kind of food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies are estimated to affect 4-6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults.
Food allergies are major illnesses and can cause different types of reactions depending on the severity. Many people especially children grow out of their food allergies; however, some allergies that are caused by fish, seeds, and nuts can remain often as lifelong conditions. So, let's look at some common food allergens and how you can avoid them.
1. Cow's Milk
One of the most common food allergies worldwide among adults and infants is cow's milk. Milk allergies should not be confused with lactose intolerance as they are caused by an immune system reaction to varieties of proteins in milk products.
Whereas, lactose intolerance is caused by the body lacking a digestive enzyme called lactase. Those people who are allergic to cow's milk may also have allergies to other animals milk. If you suffer from a milk allergy, you can use substitute milk like almond or soymilk that will fulfill the needs of essential nutrients required for the human body.
Another allergy-triggering food is eggs, both egg white and the yolk can cause an allergic reaction in young children as well as adults. Eggs are a common ingredient that is mostly used in baked items, custards, other types of desserts, and processed foods.
As eggs are used in such a wide variety of products and recipes, you must be aware before directly consuming anything as you might worsen your allergy. But in some cases, a person with an egg allergy can consume baked items because the eggs have been exposed to high temperatures for a long period. However, this is not always the case and remaining alert is necessary.
Peanut allergies are often serious and lead to life-threatening conditions, as they are one of the most common allergens linked with anaphylaxis. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), peanuts affect about 20% of children.
However, most of the children who have allergic reactions tend to outgrow the allergy with their age and time. An allergic reaction to peanuts can happen within a few minutes or up to several hours after eating and the symptoms may vary accordingly. Common peanuts that can be found in markets are peanut oil, peanut butter, and raw or roasted whole nuts.
4. Tree Nuts
As the name suggests, tree nuts are the types of nuts that are created by trees. This allergy is the second most common allergy found among children because tree nuts contain a higher anaphylaxis rate as compared to milk, wheat, or egg allergies.
Tree nuts include almonds, chestnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and more are commonly found in cakes, chocolates, cookies, cereals, and fruit and nut mixes. Even if you are allergic to one type of tree nut, it's recommended that to avoid all tree nuts as a precaution. Other than food, you need to pay extra attention to cosmetic products like soaps, skin creams, and shampoos that contain nut oils.
Compared to peanut allergy, soy allergy is less common than egg, peanut, or milk allergies. This particular type of allergy is commonly seen in young children, and unlike other allergies, soy allergies appear to increase rather than diminish with age.
Soy is a member of the legume family that is a great plant-based protein. People who discover their allergic reaction to soybeans must be careful about other soy items such as tamari, tempeh, and tofu. They should also be careful about choosing any dairy-free versions of other traditional dairy-made foods such as milk, ice cream, or different types of cheese as these are often made with soy alternatives.
6. Sesame Seeds
Another common allergen food is sesame seeds. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) around 0.23% of American children and adults are affected with this allergy. Sesame are tiny seeds that do not take many to cause an allergic reaction.
Moreover, an allergy to sesame is difficult to manage as food labels may not specifically say sesame seeds because they are indicated with other names such as simsim, til, gingelly seeds, and benne. These tiny seeds are used in several side dishes and cuisine such as biscuits, oil, sauces, and muesli. So, if you are allergic to this seed you must avoid all other items made from it.
With approximately 2 percent of Americans affected by shellfish, this is one of the most common food allergies that can be seen in adults. Shellfish are divided into two different categories; Crustacean and Mollusk, and both their allergic reaction is consistently deadly. Some common selfish that cause allergic reactions are:
A reaction can be caused simply by ingesting, touching, or inhaling affected water that contains shellfish. This particular allergy does not outgrow or overcome with time so, it is best to entirely avoid it for safety measures. Fortunately, food labels express text detailing an inclusion of shellfish which makes it easier to discard.
A wheat allergy is caused when an autoimmune disorder triggered by a certain type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Those with wheat allergies must also avoid non-food item that contains wheat such as certain cosmetic products and Play-Doh.
Foods that are marked as gluten-free can be safely consumed by people with wheat allergies, as these gluten-free products avoid the use of wheat. As with allergies, be sure to carefully go through the product label to avoid any fatal problem that may be caused by direct contact with wheat or any products made from wheat.
Salmon, tuna, and halibut are some of the most common types of fish that people are allergic to. People with fish allergy are commonly been known to have breathing difficulties from smelling fish being cooked according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. So, they are advised to not have fish cooked in their home due to the risk of smell triggering or allergic reaction.
Fish is majorly used in preparing stocks and dressing, Caesar salad, Caesar dressing, barbecue sauce, bouillabaisse, and Worcestershire sauce. Similarly, several chopped fish products like canned tuna have a high risk of contamination with many other types of food during the processing period. So, it is highly advisable to avoid fish items even if you are not allergic to certain varieties.
Lupin is a kind of legume that is frequently consumed in the form of lupin flour. It new and emerging food allergy with variable prevalence rates in different geographical regions. It is mostly seen in Mediterranean countries and Australia, and less seen in North America and Northern Europe.
The allergic reaction to lupin often occurs as a result of ingestion of several commercial products that contain trace amounts of lupin such as gluten-free pasta products. Also, people who are allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to lupin because of cross-reactivity between the two legumes.
11. Food Additives
Commonly used additives especially those that are used as preservatives such as sulphites and benzoates can cause severe allergic reactions. Sulphites are commonly used in cured meats, vegetables, and dried fruits as an additive, but in wines and beers, it occurs naturally.
Similarly, benzonates which naturally occur in fruit and honey also happen to be added to soft drinks and other non-alcoholic sparkling beverages. However, the purpose of their inclusion in several items is to prevent the growth of yeasts and molds. So, if an allergic person happens to ingest Sulphites and Benzoates, the common reactions are asthma or allergic rhinitis.
Symptoms Of Food Allergy
The symptoms of food allergy vary from a mild rash to a severe life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. With time some food allergies are commonly outgrown, while others typically remain forever.
The food allergic symptoms tend to begin anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so after eating a food you are allergic to. The most common symptoms of food allergy symptoms include:
- Swelling and itching around the lips and mouth area.
- Discomfort in the throat or hoarse voice
- Itchy skin
- Diarrhea and cramps
- Swelling of different parts
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hives such as itchy and raised bumps
Anaphylaxis is the most dangerous form of an allergic reaction and the need to take proper precautions to maintain health. A few symptoms of anaphylaxis allergic reaction include:
- Trouble breathing or wheezing
- Tightness in throat, as if it's closing
- Swelling of the tongue or lips
- Feeling faint
- Itching of the soles of the feet or palms
- Skin flushing
- Nausea, vomiting and stomach pain
- Low blood pressure
- Unconsciousness for periods
- Impulsive pulse
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