Often we mix up food allergies with food intolerance. In United States it is believed about 25% people have food allergies. But the fact is only 2.5% adults and 6-8% of children really have food allergy. The rest have what is known as food intolerance.
What is food allergy?
Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body’s immune system. Normally, body's immune system defends against potentially harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. In some people, an immune response is triggered by a substance that is generally harmless, such as a specific food. Allergic reactions to foods vary in severity and may be fatal. In food allergy, the immune system does not recognise as safe a protein component of the food to which the individual is sensitive. This component is termed the allergen. The immune system then typically produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the allergen, which trigger other cells to release substances that cause inflammation.
Food allergens are proteins in the food that enter your bloodstream after the food is digested. From there, they go to target organs, such as your skin or nose, and cause allergic reactions.
An allergic reaction to food can take place within a few minutes to an hour. The process of eating and digesting food affects the timing and the location of a reaction. If you are allergic to a particular food, you may first feel itching in your mouth as you start to eat the food. After the food is digested in your stomach, you may have GI symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or pain. When the food allergens enter and travel through your bloodstream, they may cause your blood pressure to drop. As the allergens reach your skin, they can cause hives or eczema and when the allergens reach your mouth and lungs, they may cause throat tightness and trouble breathing.
Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but there are a few foods that cause the allergy more than often. In children, the most common allergenic foods are:
Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, snails, clams)
In adults, the most common allergenic foods are:
A food allergy frequently starts in childhood, but it can begin at any age.
The only sure way to prevent future food allergies is to avoid eating a trigger food. Take care because a trigger can be present in many different foods; only a trace amount can cause a reaction.
Learn to read food labels carefully and know which ingredients you should avoid.
When eating in restaurants, ask what ingredients are in the foods that you would like to order.
Avoid foods whose ingredients you can't confirm.
Work with a registered dietitian to plan safe menus.
Food intolerance is the general term used to describe a range of reproducible adverse responses to a specific food or food ingredient. This general term includes allergic reactions that involve the immune system, adverse reactions resulting from enzyme deficiencies, pharmacological reactions and other defined responses.
Food intolerance does not include food poisoning due to bacteria and viruses, moulds, chemicals, toxins and irritants in foods nor does it include food aversions.
There are growing cases of food allergy through out the world. As scientists and experts are doing their research to prevent and cure it in a better way, you should also be aware of the general facts that can help if you face any problem relating to food allergy. For your help I refer this site, if you are interested just go through it to gather basic facts of Food Allergy.