It is a well-known fact that physical activity coupled with a positive attitude towards life can make you achieve your goals in the shortest possible time. Physical and mental fitness has been found, by medical experts, to play a very important role in your life. In fact, a report from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has indicated that regular physical activity can add five years to your lifespan. Fitness is a combination of physical ability, but also the mental state of mind. A person can be physically fit, but if he/she suffers from anxiety, depression, then they will be unable to perform their duties in the best way they could. The same rule applies even when you are ill, but you are a genius. You would not be able to perform to your optimal level. A look at the most successful business men of the world will envision you regarding their peak level of fitness (for example – Anil Ambani of Reliance Group, Panera Bread CEO – Ron Shaich; Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com). A person who is not physically and mentally fit is more prone to simple illnesses such as cold and cough, food allergy, sprains and spasms in different parts of the body etc. Food allergy can be defined as an abnormal reaction to a particular food, triggered by the immune system. You will be surprised to know about the various types of immune reactions the body performs, due to food. In this article, you will be given information on the most common food allergies and causes of food allergy with home remedies.
The previous paragraph would have brought many doubts to your mind. It is natural, of course, because the main function of a body’s immune system is to merely identify the foreign or harmful germs such as viruses or bacteria. In fact, the best definition of a food allergy would be – the immune systems tries to attack a protein from food by mistaking it for a harmful external organism.
There are also other types of food disorders in the body such as stomach pain, dysentery, constipation etc, which can be termed as intolerances of food, but food allergy belongs to a different category. Due to mistaken identity, large amounts of antibodies called as ‘immunoglobin E (IgE) are produced. Among the different types of chemicals released by IgE, the important constituent is histamine that can trigger the food allergic reaction.
Is there an allergy that is not related to the IgE’s? Well, there is, and it is known as non-IgE mediated food allergy and the duration for the reaction is more – several days. The main causes are found to be several cells in the immune systems although there is no perfect test or examination to determine the symptoms of non-IgE. The affected areas are mainly restricted to the digestive system, skin and the symptoms are eczema, indigestion and heartburn. The skin can become red, cracked or dry; stomach acid is pushed up the stomach, blood/mucus in stools, constant crying of babies and constipation etc.
Children allergic to milk, can experience both the IgE and non-IgE symptoms of food allergy such as swelling of mouth and constipation.
What Causes Food Allergies?
The most common food allergies in children can occur from eggs, milk (few infants and children are allergic to all types of milk), soya, peanuts, soya and wheat. In adults, the main reasons are fish, crustaceans or shell fish such as prawns, lobster and crabs, and tree nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts).
Most Common Food Allergies – Allergic reactions also have been found when foods are associated with celery or celeriac, mustard, gluten, sesame seeds, meat, pine nuts, certain fruits and vegetables (oral allergy syndrome). If you have a sibling or a parent with allergic reactions to milk or allergic conditions such as eczema or asthma, you can also develop similar allergies, but the medical cases reported are few. It has been noticed, that children with eczema or atopic dermatitis can easily develop food allergies.
Please remember, you can get food allergy not only from foods, or in association with other food items, but you can also get from the various food additives. For persons, who have an underlying medical condition, these additives can cause harmful effects.
Sulfites: Used in soft drinks, burgers, dried fruits and sausages, they can cause allergic reactions to anyone suffering from asthma or allergic rhinitis.
Benzoates are added for preventing the growth of yeasts and moulds in soft drinks. The most commonly affected are children suffering from eczema and asthma. The allergy symptoms can be dry throat, nausea, itchy eyes and running nose.
Levels Of Food Intolerance And Allergy
There are confusions between food allergies and body’s intolerances. If you are healthy, you can eat food containing allergens in little amounts (body intolerance). But in food allergy, you can experience various symptoms by having a small amount of food. The symptoms in both the cases are sometimes same – vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and nausea. The diagnosis part is challenging, as each and every part of the food is taken to account including the main ingredients along with the additive used in the preparation.
Symptoms Of Food Allergies
The level of allergic reactions can vary between individuals depending upon their body immunity and other reasons. The reaction can become uncomfortable for some while it may cause life-threatening moments for few individuals. The duration also varies, from two minutes to two hours after consumption of the allergic food.
Most common symptoms and signs are itching in the oral parts, eczema, swelling in various parts of the face such as lips, tongue, swelling in the throat area, nausea, vomiting, rashes, hives, abdominal pain, dizziness, wheezing, diarrhea, sneezing continuously or itching in eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), difficulty in breathing & swallowing food and nasal congestion.
One example of an Life threatening situation due to allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can cause symptoms such as difficulty in breathing (due to swollen throat or growth/sensation of lump in your throat), condensation and narrowing of air passages to the nose, rapid increase in blood pressure, drop in blood pressure leading to loss of consciousness etc. A person suffering from anaphylaxis can lose his/her life if he/she is not admitted to hospital immediately.
Histamine is the one of the main ingredient released by antibodies during the reaction. Histamine can make small vessels (blood) expand their size resulting in friction to the surrounding skin; the nerves are affected leading to itchiness; mucus in the nose is increased resulting in a burning sensation.
Testing For Food Allergies
There are senior citizens in your home and even wise men notes regarding health aspects. You can even search the Internet for various remedies. The smart part is to know where to get the best possible help and not fall in the trap of unreliable methods and tests. But it is advisable, if you have doubts of food allergy, kindly consult a physician. An allergy has to be first evaluated, properly diagnosed and effectively treated by a medical professional. In case of extreme conditions or to cure you of the allergic reaction permanently, your family doctor might refer you to an allergist.
Self-diagnosis of food allergy may lead to unnecessary advice from different quarters, diet restrictions, lack of proper nutrition if the reaction is related to children. Some people have the notion that they are suffering from food allergy while they are ill due to food intolerances. The analysis and investigation of finding the correct food causing allergen can be easy for some and difficult for others. The symptoms can occur in a few minutes or after few hours. Identifying the food trigger/triggers, a strict diet regime and proper care against allergy of food can change a person’s life for the better.
The best way to determine a food allergy is by medical history. The allergist can ask various questions to determine the food pertaining to the allergy and may suggest a physical examination and many tests. The allergist may find the specific food allergen depending on the various test results and examinations. The most common test for food allergy are:
- Blood test
- Skin Prick Test
- Oral Food Challenge
- And the most important test – Trial Elimination Diet.
All the above tests have been scientifically proven to be effective diagnostic tools for determining food allergy. Sometimes, depending on the symptoms and signs, the physician may ask you to participate in more than one test.
The number of people getting affected due to food allergy in the United States comes to 15 million people – the ratio of children getting affected is one in thirteen. You also have to note the fact, the diet of a family has changed for the past three decades. Children prior to three decades were exposed to more physical activity, shorn of computer games and did manual work. Today, you can do any task with the click of a button if you possess the recent gadgets. Less physical activity decreases immunity and children are more prone to receiving all kinds of medical care at the infant stages. The natural immunity is not properly developed and they tend to more prone to simple diseases such as cold and cough.
Prevention Against Food Allergies
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2013 has published a report: babies (lesser than 17 weeks) should be fed only liquid food. Feeding of solid food could promote allergies. Breastfeeding should be extended till the period of six months. The duration of introduction of some foods such as sea food, tree nuts and pea nuts to children is being investigated.
Avoidance of certain allergic foods is the best common way to effective treatment of food allergies. In recent times, alternatives are available for foods such as diary and wheat products. Under a strict diet regime, these foods do not have to be given up forever. Most people have successfully tolerated allergic foods on either a rotational or occasional basis after working on their immune systems as per the instructions of the allergist.
Natural Remedies For Food Allergies
Natural treatments are meant for suppressing the triggers of food allergies and increasing body immunity. Some simple home remedies are given below:
1. Saline Water
Mix salt with warm water and take the help of a neti pot to clear your nasal passages of allergens.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Add water to apple cider vinegar and take the mixture many times a day. The mixture should be sipped slowly and the procedure continued till the symptoms are reduced.
Prepare a mixture of mashed up garlic cloves with warm water. Consume the mixture every day before going to bed. Garlic has antimicrobial properties and helps in increasing the body’s immunity.
If you get the slightest indication of food allergy, then consume large quantities of Vitamin C rich foods. The citric acid strengthens the body immunity and prevents infections.
5. Turmeric Powder
You can add a teaspoon of turmeric powder with one glass of warm water. Consumption of the mixture can decrease the body allergy symptoms.
Pollens are also an important constituent of honey and can trigger allergies. By introducing small amounts of honey into the body, the immunity system gets strengthened. Consume five teaspoons of honey daily giving a three hour interval.
You can mix sandalwood with lemon juice and apply to the affected parts of the skin for relief against itching/irritation. For treating skin allergies, coconut oil mixed with lemon juice can also be applied to the affected areas.
It is mandatory, in times of food allergy, you should have a proper diet. Lack of nutrition based foods can make the body suffer for vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and the essential ingredients. Your diet should consist of nuts (rich in Vit E and magnesium); grapes (rich in antioxidants); tomatoes, oranges and apples (Vitamin C); sea foods (fish) or other foods as per the instruction given by the physician. Drink large amount of water to enhance circulation of blood. The other alternative for maintaining good health are to consume large amounts of juice (prepared from organic fruits and vegetables).
Maintain A Diary
Purchase a diary and make a note of the symptoms of allergies when they occur and the effective treatments. Do not forget to mention the duration of symptoms.