Food allergies occurs when the consumption of certain foods trigger an abnormal reaction from the immune system- in many cases, this can be an inflammation. Globally, food allergies are incredibly common, however, in India, this condition is quite rare with a prevalence of just 1-2%.
Common food allergies:
Food allergies can have various effects such as a rash, an inflammation of the skin or itchy skin. Some people can have a more serious response to the food they consume such as hyperventilation or the inability to digest the food. It is important to consult your doctor if you find that you are allergic to a certain type of food. Here are the top 5 most common types of food allergies:
Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Many people confuse a milk allergy to lactose intolerance, but this is not the same. When a person suffers from lactose intolerance, lactose (a type of sugar found in milk-based products) cannot be processed in the large intestine. This leads to discomfort such as bloating or indigestion.
A milk allergy, on the other hand, is a more serious condition than lactose intolerance and can have lasting effects. When a person has an allergic reaction to milk, the immune system does not recognise milk and goes into fight mode releasing histamines. This chemical can cause the body to react in abnormal ways such as an irregular heartbeat or an inflammation of the skin.
Another prevalent food allergy among many people, especially kids, is peanuts. Unlike other nut allergies, a peanut allergy can result in a more serious consequences such as anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. In India, there are approximately 3 million reported cases of peanut allergy. Therefore, for people who have a peanut allergy, it is recommended that you carry an epinephrine shot at all times so you can inject it in case of an emergency.
Very often, peanuts and other nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, often come into contact during production. This is why if you suffer from a peanut allergy, it is recommended to stay away from other types of nuts as well. Many of the foods we consume contain peanut oil, so it is important to be extra cautious and read the ingredient labels.
- Wheat products
Many people suffer from celiac disease where the consumption of gluten triggers an irregular response from the immune system. This, however, is different from a wheat allergy. A person who suffers from a wheat allergy is still allergic to gluten but foods such as barley and oats are safe to consume. A wheat allergy is common among kids who often outgrow the allergy, but celiac disease is a chronic and lifelong condition.
It can be hard to decipher if the negative reaction is a wheat allergy or celiac disease. It is best to visit your doctor and get a thorough check-up so you can receive the right diagnosis and treatment.
A fish allergy is not common among children but as with other allergens, for many people it surfaces later in life. Like a peanut allergy, a fish allergy can also cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. You can either suffer from diarrhoea, indigestion or even anaphylaxis. People who are allergic to fish need to carry an epi-pen in case they accidentally eat fish.
Many people confuse fish and shell-fish but a person who is allergic to fish does not necessarily have to be allergic to shell-fish. But a person who is allergic to shellfish needs to avoid all other types of fish such as shrimp, crabs or lobsters.
An allergy to soy and foods that contain soy is common among children and infants. This allergy is usually caused by a protein in soy that can result in a negative reaction when the food is consumed. There is no single effect for soy allergy, and it can range from itchiness to breathing difficulties. Like peanuts and fish, a soy allergy can also result in anaphylaxis.
In some cases, infants that are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. It is also an ingredient actively found in many processed foods. Hence, it is important to read the label before you consume any packaged foods. Common soy-based foods include soya sauce (used in Asian cooking) and soymilk.
The foods listed above are the five main allergies that people suffer from. If you are allergic to these 5 foods and consume them or other foods that used them as an ingredient, the immune system identifies them as harmful and triggers a negative response. The only treatment for foods that you may be allergic to is to completely remove it from your diet.
A good way to ensure that you don’t have any serious food allergies is to get an allergy test. You can get customised Allergy panels at Neuberg Diagnostics, a world-class diagnostics lab that offers numerous preventive health check-up packages to suit your specific needs.