After ingestion, food breaks down into components – proteins, fats and carbohydrates. In some cases, some of these components can enter the bloodstream. As a result of the absorption of antigens in the bloodstream, the body’s immune system perceives them as a threat. As a result, immune system produces a response that includes special proteins – immunoglobulins and inflammatory neurotransmitters – antihistamines.
- Symptoms of food allergy
- What are the most common food allergies
- Precautions for food allergies
- What else can cause food intolerance
- Food allergies
- Specialized help with food allergies
- Traditional medicine for food allergies
- Types of food allergies
- 1. Egg allergy
- Allergy to fish and shellfish
- 3. Milk allergy
- 4. Allergy to vegetables and fruits
- 5. Allergy to nuts, legumes and grains
- News in therapeutic research of food allergy
It takes some time for the immune system to prepare everything needed for an allergen response. Over a period of time, the cells of the immune system produce specific antibodies directed at a specific allergen. Therefore, nothing unusual can happen during the first encounter with a potentially dangerous product. An acute immune response can come much later. This is the insidiousness of allergies as a disease.
However, it should be noted that true allergy, ie a pathological process that involves the resources of the immune system, is relatively rare. Much more often, food allergies are mixed with intolerance to certain foods or food poisoning.
The foods that most often cause allergies are dairy products, eggs, strawberries, fish and sea shells, cereals and some spices.
Symptoms of food allergy
Allergic reactions can develop as soon as the allergen enters the body and after a few hours or even days. In the latter case, they talk about a delayed allergic reaction.
In some cases, food allergies in adults can affect only certain organs: skin, digestive tract, respiratory organs, and in other cases, a systemic allergic reaction develops that affects the whole body.
Clinical symptoms of food allergies are most common in the following types atopic dermatitis
Symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, migraine, skin irritation, hypersensitivity, mood swings, fatigue, and insatiable appetite.
What are the most common food allergies
According to available information, more than 70 foods can cause food allergies.
Most allergic reactions in adults are caused by fruits, vegetables, nuts and peanuts.
People who are allergic to pollen or latex often have allergic symptoms when they eat certain fruits, vegetables or nuts.
Such “cross-reactivity” is due to the fact that the body cannot distinguish between allergens in pollen or latex and related proteins in food. In Europe and the United States, peanuts and walnuts are the most commonly reported food that causes a life-threatening reaction.
Foods that cause allergies:
• cereals that contain gluten, ie. wheat, rye, barley, einorn or their hybrid varieties and their products;
• Crustaceans and molluscs and products thereof;
• Eggs and egg products;
• Fish and fish products;
• peanuts, soybeans and products thereof;
• Milk and dairy products (including lactose);
• hazelnuts and walnuts;
• Sulphides at a concentration of 10 mg / kg or more.
Precautions for food allergies
• Food allergies are sometimes the result of a baby’s premature weaning. Try to breastfeed for at least the first six months, and if possible longer. Slowly and carefully get your baby used to the new food, before you move on to the next one, you should make sure that the baby has accepted the previous one. Start with rice and baby millet. In the first year, do not give wheat or milk to babies.
What else can cause food intolerance
Genetically predisposed to allergies. Approximately half of patients with food allergies suffer from other allergic diseases (hay fever, atopic bronchial asthma, etc.). Their blood relatives have these diseases. Of great importance is the genetically determined ability of the body to produce allergic antibodies.
Eating disorders during pregnancy and lactation (abuse of certain products with pronounced sensitizing activity: fish, eggs, nuts, milk, etc.).
Early transfer of the child to artificial feeding. Eating disorders in children, expressed in the mismatch between the volume and the ratio of nutrients to the body weight and age of the child.
Lack of calcium salt in the diet helps increase protein absorption.
Increased permeability of the intestinal mucosa, which is observed in inflammatory and degenerative intestinal diseases, dysbiosis, helminthic and protozoal invasions.
Reduced acidity of gastric juice, pancreatic insufficiency, enzymopathy, biliary and intestinal dyskinesia contribute to the absorption of high molecular weight compounds.
Composition of intestinal microflora, state of local immunity of intestinal mucosa.
The first step is to find out what food (or drink) you can’t stand. You can use the following method:
• Make a list of all foods that are bad for you or cause fatigue, skin reactions, overactivity, irritability, etc.
• Make a list of the foods and drinks you eat each day.
• Make a list of all foods that regularly whet your insatiable appetite.
• Make a list of foods you will miss if you do not have them on hand.
• Make a list of all the foods you have recently consumed.
• Any product that repeatedly appears on these lists is a potential cause of allergies.
• You can identify the causes of allergies by measuring your heart rate. Measure it after waking up, just before eating, 30 minutes after and before bed. If the measurements are constant, it is unlikely that the food you eat causes allergies. If the pulse varies by 6 or more beats, it is very possible that the food causes an allergy. Check the diagnosis of foods you suspect. Stop eating foods you suspect for at least 2 weeks, then try again and see if those foods cause symptoms. Replace foods that cause allergies with similar ones, such as soy, goat’s milk or powdered milk, which can replace cow’s milk. After 6 months, try the food again: you will probably find that your sensitivity to it has disappeared.
Specialized help with food allergies
To reduce sensitivity to food allergies, naturopaths usually recommend a diet to remove toxins. However, you should consult a specialist for this.
If you can’t determine what is causing the allergy, a kinesiologist will come to your aid and examine the muscles to determine which foods lead to weight loss.
The advice of homeopaths will strengthen the immune system as a whole and thus reduce the sensitivity to potential allergens.
Traditional medicine for food allergies
Doctors recommend avoiding potential allergens. Carefully inspect the contents of processed foods to make sure they do not contain substances that can cause an attack.
Types of food allergies
Today there are many types of food allergies. The most common are five:
1. Egg allergy
Chicken egg allergy is an adverse immune reaction caused by consumption and contact with the egg. This type of allergy develops only in people who have produced IgE immunoglobulins directed against egg proteins. In these patients, an allergic reaction will occur every time they come in contact with the egg.
The most common risk factors for egg allergy are family history, if someone in the family had an allergy to other foods or atopic dermatitis.
According to Elena Alonso, a specialist in allergology and pediatrics in the Allergy Service Gregorio Maranon General University Hospital , in Madrid, as with other allergies, the symptoms of egg allergy can be very different and can vary in mild manifestations, such as mild itching in the mouth and / or throat, to more serious symptoms that can lead a person to a dangerously bad condition.
“Symptoms appear in a short time, at most an hour, after eating an egg. The most common are redness of the skin, itching, swelling of the lips and eyelids. “Digestive symptoms with vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea are not uncommon,” says Alonso, respiratory symptoms occur less frequently, which can be accompanied by difficulty breathing and swallowing. These are very serious symptoms, so the patient must consult a doctor as soon as they start to occur.
70% of children allergic to eggs eventually recover. In fact, sometimes it happens early. “At 24 months, 20% of children tolerate eggs,” explains Alonso, who points out that this figure grows to 30-35% in three years and 50-55% in five years. “Later, the evolution to tolerance is slower, reaching 60-75% in 9 years.”
The prognosis for adulthood is still unknown.
Treatment and diet:
The treatment of people who have an allergy to eggs is based on maintaining a diet without this food and all the products that may contain it. However, this diet is often difficult to achieve, which is why specialists recommend that patients and relatives be well acquainted with the symptoms and the care protocol that should be followed if eggs are consumed.
Patients with this allergy can have problems when they follow a diet, because many products contain eggs without the consumer knowing it, and they appear in other foods, such as sauces or pastries, as well as in cosmetics.
Allergy to fish and shellfish
These two types of allergies are side effects that occur when the immune system reacts to food. In these two cases, the immune response is mediated by IgE antibodies specific for fish and shellfish.
According to Ana Fiandor, an allergy specialist at the Allergy Service at the Universitario La Paz Hospital in Madrid, fish allergies develop in countries with high consumption of this food, such as Spain.
“Reactions occur in the first years of life and coincide with the introduction of fish into the diet, according to the first year of life,” explains Fiandor. “In children, it is the third largest cause of allergies, and in adults it is responsible for 12-14% of cases of food allergies in our country.
“In Spain, the fish that most often produce reactions are hake, rooster or moth,” says Pereiro.
Fish allergies can last for decades, even a lifetime.
In the case of shellfish, this type of allergy is more common in adults than in children
The clinical manifestations that occur with allergies to fish and shellfish are similar to those with other types of food allergies. Symptoms appear after consumption, although in fish and shellfish they can appear only by inhalation of cooking fumes or particles that are released when handling food.
The only treatment currently available is to adhere to a diet that does not include fish, shellfish and their derivatives and, in severe cases, to avoid contact and exposure to fumes.
3. Milk allergy
Milk allergy is an adverse reaction of the body to the proteins in this product. However, according to Maria Flora Martin, an allergology specialist at the Allergy Service at La Paz Hospital, not all side effects are milk allergies.
This reaction usually has a hereditary basis, so it can be transmitted from parents to children through genes, although environmental factors also participate in development.
It usually appears in the first year of life. In Spain, one or two children in every hundred develop a milk allergy in the first year of life. In fact, in developed countries the incidence is between 2 and 3%. “Most children overcome milk allergy during the first three years, and clinical sensitization to milk is rare among the adult population,” adds Martin.
The manifestations of this reaction are various, as well as the severity, which depends on the degree of sensitization and the amount of food eaten. In addition, symptoms may worsen if the patient exercises, consumes alcohol, or is treated with certain medications.
The most common manifestations are cutaneous, which occur in 70% of reactions. Itching is usually accompanied by redness of the skin with hives, edema in places such as lips or eyelids, etc. In addition, pathologies such as atopic dermatitis tend to worsen when a reaction occurs.
Other common symptoms are indigestion: abdominal pain, vomiting, occasional diarrhea, or difficulty swallowing. Eventually, respiratory symptoms may occur, although less frequently, such as rhinitis or asthma.
Treatment and prognosis:
Currently, the only effective treatment is the exclusion of milk of animal origin, its derivatives and products that may contain milk from the diet.
Most cases of this type of allergy occur temporarily and the prognosis is good in children. “More than 70% of those diagnosed in the first year achieve tolerance during the first three years. Within one year, tolerance is established in 50-60% of children; in two years in 70-75% and in four, in 85% “, explains Martin. “Since the age of 10, allergy to cow’s milk proteins still exists in 10% of initial cases. Evolution in adulthood is unknown.
4. Allergy to vegetables and fruits
Fruit allergy is the most common cause of food reactions in children older than 5 years and in adults. According to an allergy study, 7.4% of people who go to an allergist have a food allergy. Of this percentage, 33% are allergic to fruits and 7% to vegetables.
Prevalence is subject to genetic factors (that a family member has an allergy), environmental factors, such as eating habits depending on the area, or the presence of various pollens that can be felt by an individual.
The most allergic fruits and vegetables:
There are many fruits and vegetables that cause allergic reactions. In the case of fruit, rosacea is the most allergic. From this family, peach is the one that causes the most allergies. Other fruits included in this group are apple, cherry, pear, apricot, plum, nectarine, strawberry and so on.
In addition to these, other fruits that cause allergies are kiwi, melon, pineapple, watermelon, grapes, avocado and mango.
As for vegetables, the most allergic are vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, eggplant or pepper. Other vegetables that cause reactions are onions, spinach, asparagus, as well as spices such as pepper or cumin.
Symptoms and treatment:
The most common manifestations are the appearance of local symptoms such as itching, erythema of the lips, swelling of the lips and tongue, the appearance of red spots on the skin, dermatitis. Manifestations that affect the digestive and respiratory systems can also occur.
As with other food allergies, the only effective treatment is to eliminate fruits and / or vegetables from the diet.
5. Allergy to nuts, legumes and grains
Allergic reactions within the group of cereals, legumes and nuts are very common after consultation with allergists. In fact, according to Ernesto Enrique Miranda, an allergology specialist in the allergology department at Castellon General Hospital, nuts, along with fruit, are the leading cause of food allergies in adults and one of the first in childhood.
Symptoms and treatments coincide with all other food allergies.
According to Miranda, the prevalence of grain allergies is low compared to other food groups, although it varies depending on age and geographical area. This type of allergy is common during childhood and usually disappears with age.
Most allergies to legumes are caused by eating soy, lentils, peas, chickpeas, green beans, peel or beans.
This allergy is more common in countries with a Mediterranean diet, in the Middle East, the Far East and India.
Peanut allergy is the most common of all. In Anglo-Saxon countries, it is considered a public health problem, because 0.5% of the population is allergic to it, and in 50% of cases, the reactions it produces are so serious that they can even cause death.
Hazelnut is the second nut that causes the most allergies. In addition, in Spain, walnuts and almonds cause a large number of reactions.
When a patient suffers a reaction when consuming any food, Fernandez Rivas recommends consulting a doctor. In these cases, the family doctor or pediatrician will consider the patient’s symptoms and, if they suggest an allergy, refer them to an allergist.
When you are in a specialist’s office, he or she will collect a detailed clinical history of the reaction in an attempt to establish which food caused the reaction and establish the temporal relationship between intake and symptoms and give the necessary tests to diagnose and confirm IgE responses to food.
In the same direction, Pereiro comments that, “in case of suspicion of food allergy, parents should avoid contact with suspicious food and consult their pediatrician, who will refer a pediatric allergist to children who need it.”
The Seicap expert confirms that “depending on the case of each patient, different tests will be performed to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Skin tests (puncture tests) or blood tests may be needed. When we perform skin tests, we get results quickly. The puncture test is performed by placing drops of different solutions prepared with small amounts of potentially allergenic substances (in this case, food extracts) in a regular manner and a few centimeters apart. Each drop is then pierced so that the solution penetrates the surface layer of the skin. After 15 minutes, the reaction produced will be evaluated and compared with the controls applied. “
“The main treatment until a few years ago was to avoid food that causes allergies. It is recommended to avoid eating food, but also contact with the skin and vapors that occur in its preparation (for example, cooking fish steam) “, says Pereiro.
Fernandez Rivas recommends reading food labels and the exact composition of meals when consumed outside the house to avoid accidental poisoning.
The Seaic expert admits that the elimination diet can be complicated for some basic foods (such as milk or eggs) due to the high frequency in which they are found in processed products. “In case of accidental contact with food, serious reactions can occur, especially in those patients who are more sensitive to it. The symptoms that occur should be treated. In the most serious cases, even if the amount of food consumed is minimal, anaphylaxis (can cause a serious allergic reaction that affects two or more systems) and requires intramuscular administration of adrenaline. Therefore, it is recommended that patients with food allergies have adrenaline auto injectors and carry with them, as well as being available in schools for children suffering from allergies. “
News in therapeutic research of food allergy
As Pereiro describes, “the main novelty in the treatment of food allergy are food desensitization procedures or oral immunotherapy (ITO). They are based on the patient gaining tolerance to food by giving successively increasing amounts in a controlled environment. This method is widely used to treat allergies to cow’s milk or egg proteins. The goal is to avoid the symptoms that result from food exposure. Asymptomatic food consumption is achieved through desensitization. In this way, the risk of inadvertent consumption of food in the diet that is avoided and the anxiety that it creates is eliminated, improving the quality of life of the patient. “
Based on the studies published so far, the Seicap expert points out that “desensitization is successfully achieved in 80-90% of patients, who can take food without restrictions. The requirements for desensitization can be that the centers meet the minimum standards of quality and safety and that they are applied by experienced medical workers and trained for the treatment of allergic children. The child must be checked in the center after the application of the prescribed dose of food in order to check whether there are allergic reactions resulting from the therapy. “
By modifying the immune system with its balanced activity with preparations such as cordicpes and with the enzyme serapetase, allergic reactions can be reduced.