Out of the 50 million Americans that have an allergy, around 4 percent are adults and around 4 to 6 percent are children with food allergies. While food allergy symptoms usually occur in babies and children, adults can also acquire an allergy to food they’ve eaten prior at an older age. Food allergies arise when our immune system overreacts to something in the food or the food itself, thinking it is harmful to the body.
A food intolerance tends to cause the same signs and symptoms as an allergy. However, a food intolerance should not be mistaken for a food allergy. While, a food allergy tends to cause life-threatening and severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis, digestive problems often indicate food intolerance.
Anaphylaxis, is a whole-body allergic reaction, where one’s breathing is impaired. Other factors such as your heart rate and blood pressure are also affected during anaphylaxis. An injection of adrenaline is usually administered to prevent the fatal effects of anaphylaxis.
So What Are The Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction?
The following are some of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms tend to occur within minutes of ingesting the food, whereas, other allergic reactions may happen four to six hours later.
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach cramps
- Repetitive cough
- Tongue swelling
- Weak pulse
- Tight or hoarse throat
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Pale or blue skin
- Shock or circulatory collapse
How Do Food Intolerances Occur?
Food intolerances can arise from several factors, mainly from problems in the digestive system. The causes for food intolerances are the following:
- Food additive sensitivity
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Absence of the enzyme that will digest the food (e.g. lactose intolerance)
- Recurrent stress, such as: thinking of a particular food and how it makes you sick
- Food additive sensitivity
- Celiac disease
Five Ways to Treat Food Allergies
Even though, allergies themselves cannot be prevented, you can manage the symptoms by following practical and natural methods.
- Avoid major food allergens
Before any other instruction, this is the one that must be followed. Your body will always react to the food you are allergic to, so avoid symptoms all together by not eating them at all. If you are only aware of a few allergies, you might want to consider avoiding other food allergens, and the main culprits are as follows:
- Tree nuts
- Fish such as flounder, cod, & bass or any fish that has not been declared safe for eating
It is also not enough to avoid these foods in their natural or cooked form. You also need to check the label of packaged food to see if they contain any of these in its ingredients. Look for the usual or common name of the ingredient. The ingredient can also be declared in parentheses after the ingredients’ name, such as “lecithin (soy)” or “whey (milk).” Other packages label ingredients within the “contains” statement. Always check the label for your food allergens before consuming or purchasing the item.
- Follow an elimination diet
If you aren’t sure which food or items you’re allergic to, it is best to go on an elimination diet. This involves temporarily removing certain foods from your diet for about two to four weeks. During this time, you’ll have to monitor the occurrence or absence of symptoms. Part of the diet also involves reintroducing that eliminated food and then seeing if the symptoms return. If you observe the symptoms again after consuming the previously eliminated food, you’re likely allergic to this and will have to completely remove it from your meals after the elimination diet.
- Avoid These Food Items and Ingredients As Well
There are other food types and ingredients you can avoid to prevent allergy symptoms.
- Sugar – A study reports how bacteria’s adherence in animal cell surfaces increases through sugar compounds such as L-fucose and D-galactose. This means that when we consume more sugar, bad bacteria is more likely to populate our gut and cause potential indigestion scenarios. Sugar is also known to increase our body’s inflammation, which will in turn trigger more allergy symptoms. If you’re allergic or intolerant to several food types, it’s best to avoid sugar and sugar-heavy meals all together.
- Gluten – As previously indicated, there are individuals who are allergic to gluten due to celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Another study reports that even those without this disease or allergy experienced gluten and/or wheat ingestion. After removing gluten from their diet, the participants reported an improvement in both gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms. So even if you’re not allergic or intolerant to gluten, it might be safer to just avoid food that contains this and wheat. Oftentimes, it is the herbicide that is sprayed on the wheat that is irritating immunit
- Processed and packaged food – These items are likely to include many or most of the food components you’re allergic to. The processing of the food also removes essential nutrients that can strengthen your immune system. It’s more practical to just avoid these items all together and consume a healthy diet instead.
- Eat More of These Healthy Food Items
A proper diet filled with nutritious foods, such as: vegetables and fruits will manage allergy symptoms and improve your overall well-being. If you’re not eating more of these in your meals, it is time to add these to your diet.
- Omega-3 fatty acid rich items like chia seeds and flaxseed– Studies show that kids who eat omega-3 rich food earlier in life have a lower chance of developing allergies in the future. As an adult, you can strengthen the immune system by adding more omega-3s to your diet.
- Avocado, almonds, and leafy greens – Another study showed that adults who ate food rich in vitamin E were able to reduce their hay fever or seasonal allergies
- Garlic – Fresh garlic can be consumed by itself or seasoned onto your food for more flavor. Our stomach breaks down the garlic to produce antioxidants that can strengthen our immune system.
- Onions – Another food rich in antioxidants that prevent the level of histamines released in the body, during an allergic reaction.
- Yogurt and other probiotic rich food – Probiotics help our body produce more antibodies and other components that can prevent the immune system’s overreaction to allergens.
- Herbs such as rosemary, lemon balm, and oregano – These herbs are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, thus reducing the likelihood of allergy symptoms.
- Try These Natural Supplements
You can complement a healthy diet with supplements that are effective in treating allergy symptoms:
- Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM – According to a Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine study, MSM can improve allergy symptoms.
- Digestive Enzymes – A study from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that gastric digestion decreases the likelihood of proteins binding to immunoglobuline or IgE that is produced during an allergic reaction. Thus, one can consume a digestive enzyme supplement to prevent symptom occurrence.
There are many advantages to managing allergy symptoms in a natural and healthy manner. Your body doesn’t just live with less symptoms, but also has the opportunity to boost its immune system. The food prescribed for allergy-vulnerable individuals is healthy and beneficial for every bodily process, from digestion to immunological functions. While you can’t prevent an allergy itself from happening, better understanding your body and taking the action to prevent symptoms will lead to an enriching lifestyle.