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Food Allergies

9 Questions About Food Allergies

By Steve Edwards
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to Win!

ShrimpHaving an allergic reaction to a food is a potentially dangerous situation that will most likely happen to many of us. Let's look at the very basics of the issue so that you can evaluate how to protect yourself and your family.

  1. What is a food allergy? A food allergy is an immunologic reaction to a food protein that can cause a range of symptoms from itching to anaphylaxis. While it can't be said they are common, they do affect many people. An estimated 2 percent of adults and 8 percent of children are affected by food allergies. These numbers have been rising in recent years. There is no proven cure for food allergies, though children tend to outgrow them. Adults do not. The most common way they're treated is avoidance.

  2. Itchy EyesWhat are the symptoms? Most people have minor symptoms, such as itching around the mouth, nose, eyes, and throat. However, there is a large variance of symptoms that can cause confusion when diagnosing an allergy. Hives, swelling, wheezing, congestion, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, eczema, and even anaphylaxis (which can cause death) are all attributed to allergic reactions to foods. Extreme reactions are very rare but possible enough that the situation should be treated seriously, especially with children.

  3. What isn't a food allergy? We often confuse food allergies with food intolerance. An estimated 25 percent of us claim to have some sort of food allergy that isn't actually an allergic reaction, but intolerance to a type of food that causes similar symptoms. These reactions are usually not dangerous but can be real and unpleasant.

  4. DairyWhat are the most common food allergies? Ninety percent of the diagnosed food allergies in the U.S. come from the "big 8": dairy, soy, shellfish, eggs, wheat, peanuts, seafood, and tree nuts. Allergies seem to increase with exposure to certain foods, so this statistic varies in other cultures (for example, rice allergies are more common in Asia).

  5. Are food allergies more dangerous to your kids? Far more kids suffer from food allergies than adults. The good news is that most kids will grow out of them. However, these need to be treated seriously and you should see you doctor if any allergic reactions appear.

    In infants, colic is a danger from reactions to milk or soy formula. If your child shows any signs of abnormality, such as crying at night or the inability to sleep well, have them checked out.


  6. DoctorDo I need to see a doctor? If you suspect that you have a food allergy, it's recommended that you see your doctor. Medical tests can identify allergies. They may not identify food intolerance, but since that has fewer severe symptoms, you can rule out most of the danger.

    Anaphylaxis makes breathing difficult and can be fatal. In these cases, an epinephrine shot may be prescribed. In severe allergic cases, you will be prescribed a home self-injection kit.


  7. Can I be allergic to sugar? Sugar allergies are often suspected but are not possible. If you have a bad reaction to sugar, it's food intolerance. Allergies only happen with proteins, not carbohydrates and fats. Sugar has no protein.

    You may, however, be allergic to sugar substitutes. Many reactions have been attributed to all sugar substitutes, but especially with regard to aspartame.


  8. What about food additives? Allergic reactions are somewhat common to sulfites, food coloring, MSG, and other food additives. While far less common than reactions to natural foods, they are also harder to identify. Reading food labels can help you avoid these foods, which don't have an important place in your diet in any case.

  9. SoyHow about GMOs? So far, the science regarding genetically modified organisms has been more anecdotal than proven, but many people consider the recent rise in allergic reactions the fault of our beloved "Frankenfoods." It does merit some concern. Soy is one of our most-tampered-with crops and soy allergies have probably risen more than any other. It's definitely an issue to keep an eye on.

    Since the U.S. currently doesn't require that our labels inform us when we're eating genetically engineered foods, such as they do in most developed countries, your best defense is to write and get this changed. Currently, the FDA states it has "no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any different or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding." If you, like much of the rest of the world, have an issue with this statement, you may want to fire off a quick email to your local elected official.

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I am a full time Beachbody Coach. I motivate and guide close to 2,500 Club members and head a team of 11 Beachbody Coaches who are all committed to helping you reach your goals. Before joining BeachBody, I was a certified personal trainer for more than a dozen years and have been a running coach for over 20 years. Continued...

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