8 most common food allergies and how to treat them

By MiNDFOOD

Dairy Intolerant person.Woman with stomach pain holding a glass of milk. Lactose intolerance, health care concept.
Dairy Intolerant person.Woman with stomach pain holding a glass of milk. Lactose intolerance, health care concept.

Food allergies are extremely common, especially with kids. So, what is a food allergy and how do you treat it?

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms. This is an allergic reaction. Foods that cause allergic reactions are allergens.

Food allergy is on the rise and has been for some time,” says Holly Shaw, nurse adviser for Allergy UK, a charity that supports people with allergies. Children are more likely to be affected – between 6 and 8% of children are thought to have food allergies, compared with less than 3% of adults – but numbers are growing in westernised countries, as well as places such as China.

Interestingly, although it’s possible for any food to cause an allergy, most food allergies are caused by just eight foods.

  1. Cow’s Milk: An allergy to cow’s milk is most often seen in babies and young children, especially when they have been exposed to cow’s milk protein before they are six months old. The only treatment is to avoid cow’s milk and foods that contain it. This includes any foods such as cheese, butter and ice-cream. Try swapping to soy-based milk products.
  2. Eggs: It’s possible to be allergic to egg whites, but not the yolks, and vice versa. This is because the proteins in egg whites and egg yolks differ slightly. While an egg-free diet is required to treat this allergy, some studies have also shown that introducing baked goods to children with an egg allergy can shorten the time it takes for them to outgrow the condition.
  3. Tree Nuts: These include the likes of brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews. An epi-pen (with adrenaline) is a potentially life-saving device that allows those with allergies to inject themselves with a shot of adrenaline if they begin to have a severe allergic reaction.
  4. Peanuts: May children who develop a peanut allergy will find it resolves as they move into their teenage years.
  5. Shellfish: The most common trigger of a shellfish allergy is a protein called tropomyosin. The only treatment for a shellfish allergy is removing all shellfish from your diet.
  6. Wheat: People with a wheat allergy only need to avoid wheat and can tolerate gluten from grains that don’t contain wheat.
  7. Soy: Common food triggers of soy allergy include soybeans and soy products like soy milk or soy sauce. Since soy is found in many foods, it’s important to read food labels.
  8. Fish: Those who are allergic to fish are usually given an epi-pen to carry in case they accidentally eat fish.

Allergies can have a huge impact on quality of life. There is no cure for a food allergy, although there has been recent promising work involving the use of probiotics and drug treatments.

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