Food Allergy: Causes and Prevention

Food allergy is an allergic reaction that arises after eating certain foods. Symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, swelling of the face, shortness of breath, until loss of consciousness.

Food allergies occur when the immune system considers protein in food to be a threat to the body. As a form of response, the body releases chemical compounds that trigger allergic reactions.

Reactions arising from food allergies are often mild. But in some cases, food allergies can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to know how to prevent and relieve allergic reactions that arise.

Food Allergy Symptoms

In some people, food allergies can cause the sufferer to feel uncomfortable even if it is not too severe. Symptoms often appear within minutes to two hours after eating allergy-triggered foods.

The symptoms of food allergies that appear are the same as common allergic reactions, namely:

  • Colds or nasal congestion.
  • An itchy skin rash.
  • Itching in the mouth, throat, eyes, and in other parts of the body.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • It’s hard to swallow and talk.
  • Shortness of breath.

People with food allergies can also feel symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can also be caused by food intolerance.

When to see a doctor

Check yourself or your child with a doctor if any of the above symptoms appear after eating certain foods. Tell the doctor about the food you just consumed.

In some people, food allergies can trigger a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Administer epinephrine injections and immediately to IGD when anaphylactic symptoms appear, such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness and dark outlook
  • Cold sweats
  • Loss of consciousness

Consult a pediatric professional about the possibility of children getting allergies and what to look out for if there are families suffering from allergic diseases, such as food allergies, asthma, or allergic rhinitis.

Causes of Allergies

Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly considers proteins in certain foods as a threat to the body. In response, the body releases an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), in order to neutralize the allergy triggers (allergens) in the food.

When a person returns to eat the food even if it is few, IgE will stimulate the body to secrete a chemical compound called histamine into the bloodstream. Histamine is what causes the onset of allergic symptoms.

Food allergies usually last from childhood, but sometimes also only appear when a person is an adult. Foods that cause allergies tend to differ in adults and children.

In adults, allergic reactions may appear after eating the following foods:

  • Fish
  • Shells
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Legumes

While in children, common foods causing allergies include:

  • Beans
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Cow’s milk

It is not yet known why in some cases, new food allergies appear in adulthood.

Food Allergy Risk Factors

Food allergies are more at risk of being experienced by people suffering from other allergies, such as allergic rhinitis or asthma. People who have been exposed to allergies to one type of food are also more susceptible to allergies to other types of food.

Other factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing food allergies are:

Under five years old.
Have a family suffering from a history of allergies, such as asthma.

Food Allergy Diagnosis

To determine food allergies, the doctor asks the patient what symptoms, what foods are consumed before the symptoms appear, as well as the health history of the patient and his family. After that, a physical examination will be carried out to distinguish the symptoms of food allergies from those in other conditions.

Next, the doctor will run an allergy test that includes:

Skin allergy test

In the allergy test on the skin, the patient’s skin will be pierced with a small needle. After that, the doctor will insert a little protein in the food that is suspected to cause allergies to the area of the skin that was punctured earlier to see the reaction.

Blood test

A patient’s blood sample will be taken to measure specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels. If certain food-related IgE levels are high enough in the patient’s blood, it means that the patient has an allergy to the food.
Food tests

Patients will be asked to avoid the type of food that is suspected to be the cause of allergies for 1-2 weeks. If the patient is allergic to this type of food, then during that period the patient will not experience an allergic reaction, and will again experience it if the food is re-consumed.

The doctor may also ask the patient to eat foods suspected of being allergic triggers in small portions, then the portion is increased slowly. If no allergic reaction appears during the test, then the patient is allowed to eat the food.

Food Allergy Treatment

The best way to deal with food allergies is to avoid food-causing allergies. However, a person may have consumed the food by accident. When this happens, there are several drugs that can be used to relieve symptoms.

If the symptoms appear relatively mild, sufferers can use antihistamines that are sold freely. If symptoms are still felt, the sufferer can see a doctor to be given antihistamines at higher doses.

When anaphylactic symptoms appear, sufferers should be taken to a hospital IGD to be given epinephrine injections. Once the symptoms are gone, the doctor will ask the patient to always take the injection.

It is important to understand how to use injectable epinephrine, when the symptoms of food allergies you experience are quite severe. Also, teach people who are often near you, such as family or coworker, how to use the injections when you have anaphylaxis.

Be sure to replace the epinephrine before the expiration date, and replace the syringe if it is not working properly.

Food Allergy Complications

In severe cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, i.e. allergic reactions that can be dangerous. Anaphylaxis can last a few minutes even seconds after exposure to allergic triggers.

Food Allergy Prevention

The way to prevent food allergic reactions is to avoid foods that can trigger allergies. This may be a bit of a hassle for sufferers, but it still needs to be done to avoid more serious conditions.

Take the following steps to prevent food allergic reactions:

  • Read what content is contained in each food package to be consumed.
  • Bring allergy-free snacks if you want to go outdoors. This will help when you find it difficult to find allergy-free foods
  • If you want to eat at a restaurant, tell the waiter or cook about what foods should not be consumed.
  • Make sure food purchased outside is not processed and served in places previously used to process allergy-trigger foods.
  • In infants, the introduction of food causes of allergies, such as peanuts, early on can lower the risk of such food allergies in later life.

You also need to wear a special bracelet that lists that you are suffering from food allergies. This bracelet will help when an allergic reaction appears and you have difficulty communicating. If the food allergic reaction is severe enough, consult a doctor about the need to carry an epinephrine injection.

Healthy and Beautiful with Raw Food Diet

Healthy lifestyles are increasingly popular, including living a healthy diet or diet. One of the most trending diets in recent times is raw food diets. Before you practice this type of diet, let’s get to know the raw food diet more.

As the name suggests, a raw food diet is a diet in which the person who goes through it eats only raw food, or food that goes through little processing process. The recommended cooking temperature limit in this diet is between 40 – 48 degrees Celsius.

In addition, food should also not be processed in any way, such as pasteurized (turning off germs with high-temperature heating) or sprayed pesticides.

This raw food diet theory assumes that the cooking process can destroy the nutrients in the food, so it is better to eat fresh food. This raw food diet is believed to be able to nourish digestion, so that food can be more easily absorbed by the body, and help reduce the risk of the appearance of certain diseases.

What Are the Benefits of Raw Food Diets?

The effectiveness of this diet is actually still in the study. However, there are several benefits offered or claimed by raw food diets, namely:

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease. Because this diet involves a lot of fruit and vegetable consumption, it is thought to help reduce blood pressure and maintain heart health. However, the certainty of the benefits of this raw food diet still needs to be studied further.
  • Lowers bad cholesterol, due to the reduced consumption of saturated fats.
  • Lower body mass index, which also means overcoming being overweight. This is because foods consumed on raw food diets tend to be low in calories.
  • Make the skin look fresher.
  • Healthy digestion, because the recommended foods in this diet are rich in fiber content.
  • Increases the metabolism of the body.

What’s the Food List?

Below are some types of foods that can be included as a daily menu in the raw food diet:

  • All fruits and vegetables are fresh, or dried.
  • Nuts, oats, and grains are raw or water-soaked.
  • Fresh juice without added sugar.
  • Young coconut water or mineral water.
  • Fermented foods, such as kimchi or sauerkraut.
  • Eggs and processed milk are raw, such as yogurt.
  • Plant-based milks such as nut milk or wheat milk.
  • Dried meat.
  • Organic food that has not gone through the processing process, or processed using a temperature of no more than 48 degrees Celsius.
  • Seafood includes raw sea fish (e.g. sushi or sashimi) and seaweed.
  • Chocolate made from cocoa or cocoa beans that do not go through the burning process.

Healthy anyway, But Be Careful and Pay Attention to It

The benefits offered by this raw food diet may make you interested to try it. But, don’t rush it. Pay close attention and remember, some of these foods may not be safe to consume in a raw state as they can contain germs or toxins.

Foods not recommended for raw or no processing are red beans, cassava, mushrooms, peas, kapri beans, eggs, meat, and milk. Fresh, high-quality fish can still be consumed, for example as a sashimi or sushi dish. But, to make it safer, it is best to add wasabi to eradicate the bacteria in it.

Another risk that also needs to be considered when going on this diet is malnutrition. Intake of iron, omega-3, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and selenium could be lacking because the types of foods consumed in this diet are very limited.

Remember, not all foods fit into a raw food diet. It is recommended to process food before consumption to be free from germ contamination. However, still use a healthy way of processing, such as boiling or baking. If you have a specific health condition, it is advisable to consult a doctor first before trying a raw food diet.