Recently I was on a plane where they served peanuts as snacks and the entire cabin smelled like it for the whole trip. It made me think of those with peanut allergies and how food allergies are on the rise. As it turns out, recent research showed about one in 13 children under the age of 18 is allergic to some food. Even worse, two out of every five children have a severe allergy that might result in anaphylaxis or death! This is more than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The most common food allergies reported are wheat, milk, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
Food allergies are what are known as an IgE mediated immune reaction. The "E" represents which division of the immune system attacks. Food sensitivities are typically IgG and less often IgA mediated. This is important to know for testing purposes. I routinely suggest patients test IgG and IgE.
As a health care practitioner who focuses on food allergies and intolerances, I see that we are what we eat and food can definitely cause inflammation. This inflammation can manifest in multiple different ways from the traditionally thought of gastrointestinal issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn) to fatigue, skin problems, headaches/migraines, menstrual problems, hormonal problems, sleep problems, asthma, allergies, depression, and/or anxiety.
When you determine a new food allergy, it can often be a shock and difficult to understand, especially if it is something as commonplace as wheat or dairy. I suggest you get yourself and your child as educated as possible, read books, read online forums, meet with a nutritionist or dietitian, and talk with the school. Because food allergies are on the rise, companies are really starting to take notice and have begun to list the common allergies on their ingredient labels at the bottom of the list. This makes it easier when fancy scientific names are used when it really means "wheat based." Take heart and remember that you won’t become an expert overnight but there is a lot of support out there.
Reviewed June 23, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton