The world of food allergies can be overwhelming. Not just because there are SO MANY suspects but also because their are different types of allergic reactions. It may be a lactose intolerance or it could be the histamine in the cheese. It could be a gluten auto immune reaction known as Coeliacs Disease, or it could be the yeast or intolerance/malabsorption of the gluten protein. Some inflammation lead allergic reactions like the IgG work like a bucket, where if you eat only small amounts of certain foods you won’t get a reaction, but lots of them and you’ll get a reaction. This particular reaction is hard to pin point because consumption doesn’t always equal a reaction, it depends on your recent intake of the reactive food. Some foods can be troublesome, like the FODMAP aren’t causing an allergic reaction, but are just not absorbed well, leading to symptoms.
So what are the most commonly reactive foods?
Gluten refers to a cluster of proteins found ingrains such as wheat, rye and barley and is the most common food food allergy. Fuelling autoimmune conditions such as hypothyroidism, coeliacs disease and multiple sclerosis, gluten is often the first thing to look at when it comes to food allergies. But a coeliacs blood test may not be the only thing needed to rule it out as a problem. Many people fail to absorb the gluten proteins, leaving them to ferment at the intestinal wall, causing bloating and low grade inflammation, reducing absorption of other important nutrients
Another blood test that can rule out an allergy is the lactose intolerance. Although this is important, some people are allergic to more than just the lactose in dairy. Other components found in dairy can be troublesome for many, and the different forms it comes in can also alter your response, example you may be fine with plain yoghurt but cheese will have you feeling very ill. Cow milk alternatives such as A2 milk or goat milk may be tolerated by some but not by others.
Whilst free range, organic eggs are a great source of fats and vitamin D, some people are very reactive to eggs. Some can be reactive to just the egg yolk or just the egg white, but most foods don’t specify what part of the egg has been used. It can also be a difficult allergen to pinpoint as troublesome as it is used in many foods such as baked goods, sauces like Chicken Tonight, condiments and confectionery. Reactions to eggs can range from the potentially
fatal anaphylaxis to just the queasy tummy
4. Tree nuts
Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts are all classified as tree nuts and can cause asthma, skin rashes, itchy throat and swollen eyes but tree nuts have also been found to trigger potentially fatal anaphylaxis. For this reason, many schools are becoming strict “Nut Free Zones” to prevent such disasters in the lunch time play ground
5. Legumes (including peanuts)
A nut allergy often includes an allergy to legumes such as peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and other dried beans as they have ve
ry similar structures and are quite closely related. Symptoms can range from swelling in the face, throat and/or mouth, difficulty breathing, asthma, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting but can also lead to less obvious reactions such as bloating, gas and changes in bowel movements. Legumes are often the culprit for those experiencing FODMAP allergy symptoms
6. Plants from the Solanaceae/Nightshade family
Vegetables ARE good for you, but some can cause allergic reactions in particular people, and the nightshade family of vegetables are notorious for causing problems. Linked to fuelling arthritis, fibromyalgia and IBS, the Nightshade family includes tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, goji berries capsicums and chillis. The theory is that these particular vegetables created toxic elements in them to avoid them being eaten by animals in the wild
Lemon, limes, oranges and grapefruit are also an unsuspecting foe, causing anything from an itchy mouth to anaphylaxis. Citrus allergies tend to occur in those with nut and pollen allergies.
Chocolate allergies can be tricky to pick up, as most chocolates will also contain dairy, emulsifiers made from soy and potentially come into contact with nuts. A true cacao (and its processed form known as cocoa) allergy can look like hives, trouble breathing, wheezing cough, nausea or vomiting and stomach cramps
9. Shellfish and fish
A shellfish allergy is a more well known allergy, as the symptoms of it can be fatal so it has been wildly discussed. But it isn’t just an anaphylaxis reaction that it can trigger, some people experience IgG reactions to shellfish which includes shrimp, prawns lobsters and crab and it can be hidden as an additive to things such as miso and Asian sauces
Meat from any animal can cause an allergic reaction but this is usually due to contamination such as gastro responses, or infected animals with tick viruses. Other people can be reactive to meat due to what the animal was fed (such as processed corn or soy feed mixes) or the chemicals used in modern animal farming. Wherever possible, choose organic, grass fed, locally sourced and free ranged to avoid such reactions.
Same as beef – often pork allergies are more to do with the process that the meat undertakes, and the health of the animal more than just the actual meat itself.
Some people find that although they can tolerate wheat and gluten, it is in fact the yeast in breads that cause problems for them. Most Australians have been raised eating large amounts of Vegemite, a yeast based spread that we put on bread that also contains yeast.
Corn is a less common allergy compared to dairy, nuts, eggs and shellfish but it certainly makes the list. Can can be a difficult enemy to identify as symptoms can be vary in people from stuffy noses, reoccurring sinusitis, asthma and hives as well as bloating, indigestion and changes in bowel movements.
From baked goods, vegetarian mock meats, chocolate and breakfast cereals, soy allergies are on the rise. Sadly, many soy allergies develop from processed soy infant formulas and continue throughout the lifespan. Symptoms can be gut based such as abdominal cramping/pain, diarrhoea, nausea as well as tingling in the mouth, hives, eczema, sinusitis and asthma. Many young children are put onto soy products as an alternative to dairy, however soy can be just as much of an issue for them
Of all of the food allergies, the one that doesn’t ever get mentioned is alcohol. In some people, as little as 1ml of alcohol can cause a dramatic response – from flushing of the face, rashes, difficulty breathing and stomach cramps. Most alcohols contain other foods on this list with most wines made with eggs and fish, beers with wheat, yeasts, barley and hops and spirit drinks made with nightshade foods. Keep an eye out for what’s in your glass, not just your plate. It is also possible to lack the enzymes and vitamins required to process alcohol from the blood, through the liver and excreted from the body.
Known to stimulate the central nervous system, coffee is a popular drink in today’s modern world. Caffeine intolerance suffers can experience an exacerbated effect of caffeine such as a rapid heartbeat, increased anxiety, insomnia, jitteriness headaches and an upset stomach whilst caffeine allergy suffers tend to experience hives, itchy mouths and eyes and swelling of the mouth and throat area. Don’t justt think coffee – caffeine is in teas, soft drinks, energy drinks and even some multi vitamin formulas
Often misdiagnosed, a salicylates reaction can look like many of the other allergic reactions. Salicylate is a naturally occurring organic acid that can be found in certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, beverages and is a main ingredient of asprin. For a more comprehensive list try this resource
18. Food additives
Food additive allergies can also be hard to pinpoint, as they are hard to identify in ingredient lists due to being listed as numbers or complex chemical names. The most common is MSG, but other additives such as food colourings, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners and preservatives can all cause havoc on an inflamed immune system
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