An allergy is a hypersensitive condition of the immune system and an allergic reaction occurs when the human body reacts abnormally to normal, harmless substances, in and around them.
People around the world suffer from several types of "Food Allergies". This happens because they are hypersensitive to the normal food that we eat, causing either discomfort or a life threatening situation. For instance, peanut allergy in children has been known to have dire consequences.
Food allergies are normally caused due to the extreme reaction of the immune system to particular types of food. As there is no cure for food allergies, the best option is to avoid such foods or allergens.
The most common foods that people in general are allergic to are:
• Food Additives, such as preservatives, MSG (monosodium glutamate), food colors / dyes and thickeners like corn flour
• Groundnuts / Peanuts
• Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
• Shellfish such as lobsters, crabs and prawns / shrimps
In India, the food allergens are:
• Wheat or gluten intolerance
• Groundnut / Peanut allergy
• Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy
• Allergic to Eggs
• Allergic to Soy
Foods to Avoid
For gluten intolerant people the foods to watch out for are:
All wheat, barley, and semolina based products, cereals, roti, chapattis, parathas, durum wheat, broken wheat, bulgur wheat, pasta, wheat bran, baked products made from these basic ingredients and some noodles having these ingredients
Allergic to Peanuts or Groundnuts
Avoid eating peanut butter, monkey nuts and groundnuts, biscuits, baked products or cooked products containing these ingredients, peanut oil, soups, health bars, breakfast cereals and Thai foods
Lactose Intolerant or Allergic to Milk and Milk products
Casein and whey protein in milk cause milk allergies. The absence of an enzyme called lactase in the human body prevents the digestive system from digesting the lactose content in the milk, consequently causing lactose intolerance or allergy to milk and milk products.
Foods that should be avoided if lactose intolerant are - milk, whey, milk powder, cream, butter, curd / yoghurt, cheese, lactose products and casein
Allergic to Eggs
Foods to watch out for are:
All egg preparations, eggs, foods containing eggs, baked products with egg as an ingredient (cookies, cakes, pancakes, puddings and so on)
The good news is that like milk, allergy to eggs fades with time.
Allergic to Soy
Normally any allergic reaction on consumption of soy or soy products occurs after a delay of a week or two.
Foods to watch out for are - soy milk, soy, soybean oil, tofu, soy chunks, soya beans and soya sauce
Hereditary factors are a major component of allergies and at times several members in a family may have allergies, though not necessarily the same type of allergy. Almost all food allergies are of short duration and disappear without any medical intervention. However, if any abnormal reaction to food is observed, stop eating that particular food and consult an allergist or allergy doctor.