What are Food Allergies? | HealthiNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 13.07.2012

PREETI: Hello and welcome to HealthiNation, I’m
Doctor Preeti Parikh.
SHARON: And, I’m Sharon Richter, registered dietitian.
PREETI: Food allergies can be serious business, affecting
about 11 Million Americans. Sometimes these allergies can even be fatal. So it’s important
to know what foods you’re allergic to, and what you can do about them.
SHARON: Beyond not being able to enjoy some foods,
having a food allergy can make it difficult to get some of the nutrients your body needs
to stay healthy.
PREETI: In this segment, I’ll explain more about
food allergies.
SHARON: And, I’ll give you some help with food substitutions.
PREETI: If you don’t have a food allergy, chances
are you know someone who does. Food allergies affect two percent of adults and eight percent
of children. Dining out can be tricky for adults with a
food allergy, and families need to be careful about what foods they keep in the pantry if
a child in the household is affected.
Food allergies happen when your body mistakenly thinks that the food you just ate is dangerous.
Just a small amount of a particular food can trigger the body’s immune system to develop
an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from simple hives
on the skin to more serious complications including anaphylaxis, which is a whole body
reaction that can be fatal. So, they can be serious.
A food allergy can develop immediately after a food is eaten or even a few hours later.
The symptoms you should be watching out for are hives, which are small, itchy red bumps
that look like wheels, or blotches on the skin. You may also have symptoms you’d see
with asthma like wheezing, and coughing. Other symptoms could include diarrhea, vomiting,
itching of the mouth and throat, swelling in the mouth and throat and abdominal pain.
These symptoms can mean that you’re allergic to certain foods, but some of them can also
be caused by food intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant may feel sick after
drinking milk, but they aren’t allergic to milk. That’s because the discomfort from
food intolerance isn’t caused by the immune system, so those aren’t called allergies.
People most often have food allergies to nuts, dairy products, wheat, and certain fish. These
are the most common because they contain certain proteins that in some people set off an allergic
reaction. Those reactions start when a natural immune
system antibody called immunoglobin E –or I-G-E triggers the release of histamine and
other chemicals. The chemical histamine causes allergy symptoms like hives and sneezing.
You can visit an allergist to find out if you have food allergy. The physician will
ask questions about your family history and the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing
with certain foods. The doctor will test your skin with liquid
extracts of different foods. They will be looking for any hives or rashes. You may also
have a blood test to see if you carry any I-G-E antibodies to specific foods.
To pin down problem foods, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary detailing what you eat,
when you eat it, and any symptoms that appear around that time.
Elimination diets can also help diagnose a food allergy. These work by removing a suspected
food from the diet to see if allergy symptoms clear up. If the symptoms do go away, the
next step would be to do a food challenge. This is done in a doctor’s office. You will
be given a sample of the food you may be allergic to. If there is a reaction with the suspected
food, then the allergy is confirmed.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies right now. And, while some kids may outgrow
a food allergy, others who don’t must carefully navigate menus and grocery aisles their whole
lives. The good news is there are many ways for those with food allergies to eat well
and incorporate all the nutrition they need in their diets.
SHARON: If you or someone in your family has a food
allergy, it’s something you need to think about at every meal. But, it doesn’t mean
the party’s over. So, let’s forget what mom says and start with dessert.
I love ice cream, which is a dairy product. And, dairy products are some of the most common
allergens. But, there are many milk options that don’t come from animals, and they come
in ice cream products, too! This soy ice cream is just one example. Another thing to keep
in mind with dessert, sorbet is dairy free, but some sherbets are made with milk. And,
if you really have a sweet tooth, try dark chocolate which is made without milk.
For alternatives to animal milk, try soy, almond, and rice milks. It’s also important
to think about what nutrients you’re losing when cutting out a certain food product. Fortunately,
all of these milk alternatives have nearly the same amount of calcium as dairy milk.
Almond milk is a great source of calcium, and soy & rice milks are almost always fortified
with calcium. Soy milk also comes with an additional punch of protein. So, you’ll
have a healthy start to your day by using any of these milks with your favorite low-sugar
If someone in your family has a peanut allergy, it’s important to pay close attention to
the labels of what’s in your pantry. Some people can have a peanut allergy so sensitive
that even foods processed in a plant that handles peanuts can trigger a reaction. For
more obvious problem foods, like peanut butter, it’s easier than ever today to find alternatives
like almond, cashew, and even sunflower butter if you’re allergic to all tree nuts.
People with seafood allergies may need to stay away from just shell fish, or in some
cases all varieties of fish. If you’re extra sensitive to fish, be careful when eating
out because the kitchen will often prepare dishes on the same surfaces that were used
for fish dishes. Also, vitamins sometimes contain fish oils and other fish products,
so make sure to read those labels. When cooking at home, substitute a lean meat like chicken
in a fish dish. You’ll be losing heart-healthy fats called omega-3’s and vitamin-B by cutting
fish out of your diet, so grab these vitamin supplements so you’re not missing out.
A wheat, or gluten, allergy means that grains like barley, wheat, and oats are off-limits.
So, for a recipe that calls for these, substitute with rice or corn. You’ll need to be careful
with Gluten. It can be hidden in many foods like soy sauce and salad dressings. I checked
the labels at the supermarket and picked out this salad dressing which is gluten-free.
More products are beginning to advertise with a gluten-free label to make it easier for
you to make safe choices, so keep your eye out.
Living with a food allergy can be a good thing. It’ll make you pay attention to what’s
going onto the dinner plate, and where nutrients are coming from. With some experimentation,
you’ll discover a whole new world of safe, delicious ingredient alternatives and recipes.
Thanks for being a part of HealthiNation. Watch our other cooking segments for more
recipe ideas that work for your healthy lifestyle.