March is National Nutrition Month… so I believe it is my duty to teach you something about food that you may not know. After thinking, I’ve decided that I am going to teach you about allergies, and how to spot common allergens on labels; but first I’m going to give you some basic information about food allergies.
Food allergies, what are they?
According to The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein causing chemicals to be released- that includes histamine, causing an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from mild to severe.
Food allergies are becoming more and more common in the US and around the world, and it is estimated that there are currently 15 million people in the US that suffer from food allergies (that’s about 5% of the population).
Children are often found to have allergies, but they often grow out of them as they grow and their bodies and immune systems become stronger, dealing better with different foods.
Common symptoms that are related to food allergies include trouble breathing, hives, itching, rashes, and can even cause loss of consciousness in severe cases.
What are the major allergens?
The FDA has identified 8 major ingredients that are common allergens. This list includes:
…This means that as stated by the FDA in the above picture: “These foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions…” Simply stated, more than likely people who have food allergies may be reactive to the foods above; BUT is not limited to these 8 foods.
So how do you find common allergens on labels?
The FDA mandates that common allergens be listed on labels in at least one of two ways:
1) Immediately following the ingredient: “semolina flour (wheat), soybean oil (soy)”
2) Listed at the bottom of the full list of ingredients: Contains: Soy, wheat, milk
So why is it important to watch out for reactions to foods?
Because mild reactions can become severe, and severe reactions can pop up quickly. If you experience an allergic reaction to a food with hives, swelling, rashes, wheezing of any kind, it may be important to seek medical attention.
Some helpful resources include the FDA and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Please contact your healthcare provider for more questions.
Please leave comments or questions if you have any; this is short but hopefully clarifies a few things about food allergies.
- Healthy Gal