If you have a food allergy, your body’s immune system reacts unusually when you eat certain foods. Allergists have concluded that the most effective way to prevent such allergies is by avoiding the foods that cause the reactions.
It’s easy to confuse food allergies with the more common food intolerance, which doesn’t involve the immune system. Thus, it’s best to know the basics about the matter.
Food Allergy Symptoms
If you suspect you have a food allergy, you may want to pay attention to your body’s reaction to a specific food item or product. The common food allergy signs include:
- Itching in the mouth
- Itching of the skin, hives, or eczema
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat
- Nasal congestion, wheezing, or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
Food allergy symptoms generally appear within minutes of consumption of allergens. An allergen is a substance that may cause an allergic reaction in your body.
As such, food allergies can be mild or life-threatening. If you’re diagnosed with a food allergy, you may be asked to stop or reduce the consumption of allergens in your diet.
Most Common Food Allergens
It’s reported that there are eight most common food allergens, including:
- Tree nuts
What to eat when you have food allergies
If you suffer from food allergies, you have to be very careful about what you eat. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthier for such conditions.
1. Start with the elimination diet
If you suspect you have food allergies, an elimination diet may be what you need as a starting point toward dealing with the problem. An elimination diet removes the common foods that you’re likely to be allergic to. The foods are thereafter reintroduced into the diet one at a time until the culprit foods are identified.
The Center for Integrative Medicine published an blog post that sheds light on the elimination diet. You could also read other sources for added information.
2. Find healthy realistic substitutes for your allergens
Having food allergies means giving up certain foods. Nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and docosahexaenoic acid have been said to be at risk of deficiency in the diets of people with food allergies.
If you have food allergies, you have to make healthy alternatives for such nutrients. An unbalanced diet could compromise your health.
3. Choose foods rich in nutrients
Always choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These items are considered to contain nutrients in moderate quantities. Moderate amounts of nutrition are thought to reduce the risk of allergic reactions significantly. Research about nutrient-rich foods before you go out for your next grocery shopping trip.
4. Eat fiber-rich foods
Some studies have shown that a high-fiber diet with vitamin A may reconstruct stomach bacteria in a way that could prevent food allergies. It’s suggested that a high-fiber diet could also help to flush out allergens in the stomach.
Try diets which include whole grain breakfast cereals, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread and oats, fruits, and vegetables.
5. Avoid junk food
Resist the temptation to eat fast foods. They’re not only typically low on nutrients, but they’re also usually packed with unhealthy calories. Most junk food is reported to contain too much saturated fat and sugar, which may increase the risk of inflammation during allergic reactions. Ask your local dietitian for advice on the best substitutes for your appetite for fast food.
6. Eat foods that help your immune system
Food allergies are caused by the abnormal response of the immune system to certain foods. It’s important to ensure that the immune system is always in its best form.
Emerging research suggests that dietary fiber may influence immunity by altering plasma concentrations of key bioactive substances, such as CRP and TNF-α, by modulating the gut flora.Kaczmarczyk, M. M., Miller, M. J., & Freund, G. G. (2012). The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metabolism: clinical and experimental, 61(8), 1058–1066.
Article available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2012.01.017
Food items rich in vitamins A, C, and E are said to promote healthy immunity. When it comes to your health, you’re better off proactive than reactive.
7. Try foods that help alleviate allergy symptoms
Most allergy symptoms are believed to result from inflammation like swelling and irritation of passages and the skin. Foods like ginger, turmeric, onion, oily fish, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and bee pollen are reported to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. These foods could promote the relief of your allergy symptoms.
8. Drink enough fluids
Keep your body well hydrated by drinking enough healthy drinks, especially water.
Research has determined that most bodily processes require water for their optimum function. Clean water is believed to help dilute allergens. Water could also improve the flushing of toxins out of your body.
Food allergies are said to affect an estimated 10% of adults in America. If you suspect you’re suffering from a food allergy, let an allergist evaluate your symptoms.
If you do have food allergies, remember it’s not the end of the world. Many possibilities and alternatives can help you live a healthy and happy life. Remember to eat healthily, drink enough healthy fluids, get adequate sleep, and exercise.