How This Helps
Food allergy is defined as a condition in which certain foods trigger an abnormal immune response. In our modern world, there is a paradigm shift in our diet and the foods we eat. The diet of many people depends upon junk or fast food, which may or may not suit the body. Due to these factor’s food allergies are prevalent. These affect around 5% of adults and 8% of children. Food allergies occur because of your immune system, which wrongly recognizes some of the proteins in food as harmful. The body then launches a range of protective measures, including releasing chemicals like histamine, which causes inflammation. These allergies which cause from consumption of certain foods can be avoided by the use of elimination diet, which involves excluding certain food items from your diet and incorporating alternate food item which does not cause allergic reactions.
Food allergy diet causes
Though there are many reasons for the development of food allergy, most common of all is due to genetics where the allergy against certain food items runs in the family hereditary lines. Symptoms of these food allergies can occur anywhere from a few minutes of exposure to a few hours later, and may include some of the following:
● Swelling of the tongue, mouth or face
● Repetitive cough
● Difficulty breathing
● Low blood pressure
● Itchy rash
● Pale or blue coloring of the skin
The most severe allergic reaction caused due to food allergy is anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can adversely affect your breathing, cause a drop in your blood pressure, and adversely affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis can occur within a few minutes of exposure to the triggering allergen food item. It can be life-threatening and must be treated immediately with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) as advised by a doctor if needed. Most food-related symptoms tend to occur within two hours of ingestion. But sometimes, they can also start within minutes. In some sporadic cases, the reaction may be delayed by four to six hours or even longer.
Another type of delayed food allergy reaction is known as food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). This reaction is a severe gastrointestinal reaction that generally occurs two to six hours after consuming dairy products. It mostly affects young infants who are being exposed to these foods for the first time. FPIES may result in repetitive vomiting and can lead to dehydration. In some cases, babies will develop bloody diarrhea. [1,2]
Food intolerance is many times mistaken for food allergies. However, a food intolerance diet never involves the immune system. It means that while they can severely impact your quality of life, they are not life-threatening. Here are some common foods which may cause food allergy:
● Dairy products
● Tree nuts
● Fish [3,4]
Food allergy elimination diet
An elimination diet is the one that requires removing foods from your diet that you feel your body can’t tolerate well. The foods are reintroduced later, one at a time, while you look for symptoms that show a reaction. It usually lasts 5–6 weeks but may be continued as per doctor’s advice and is used to help those with food intolerance, a sensitive gut, or food allergy. Elimination diet helps in identifying foods that are contributing to the allergic symptoms. In this way, an elimination diet may ease symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea, and constipation.
Once you have successfully recognized a food your body can’t tolerate well, you can withdraw them from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable adverse reactions in the future. There are multiple varieties of elimination diets, which involve eating or eliminating certain foods. However, if you have an already known food allergy, then you should perform an elimination diet only under the supervision of a health expert. Reintroducing a food allergen may trigger an adverse or allergic episode of anaphylaxis.
Foods that are commonly advised to avoid during an elimination diet:
● Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit
● Nuts and seeds
● Starchy foods
● Meat and fish
● Dairy products
● Sugar and sweets
Foods that can be included during an elimination diet:
● Fruits excluding citrus fruits
● Dairy substitutes
● Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
The idea of an elimination diet is to eliminate all the potential food items which are suspected of causing the allergy. It also helps individuals to check food items, which results in food intolerance. After 5-6 weeks or as advised by the medical practitioner, one by one, the food items which are eliminated are reintroduced in the diet. It is essential to check for any adverse symptoms while reintroducing the food items in the diet. If you experience no adverse reaction while reintroducing a food item in the diet, you can assume it is fine to include that food item in your diet. However, if you experience any adverse reaction like those mentioned above due to a particular food item, then you have successfully identified a trigger food that causes allergic reactions and should remove it from your diet.
There are many studies which suggest the benefits of the elimination diet, which are:
● It may eliminate or reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBD)
● It may help people with Eosinophilic Esophagitis
● It may reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADHD)
● It may improve conditions like eczema
● It may reduce chronic migraines [5,6,7]
Gluten-free diet plan for dummies
A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods that contain the protein gluten, which is found in many grains. Many studies suggest that a gluten-free diet has been adopted by people who primarily have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Consumption of foods that contain gluten in people with such conditions like celiac disease etc. would result in severe discomfort and adverse health effects. The primary sources of gluten in the diet include wheat-based foods, barley, rye, bread, pasta, etc. A gluten-free diet should eliminate such kind of food item which are suspected of containing gluten and incorporating their alternative substitute in the diet. [8,9]
As the world is ranging towards being healthy where our food diets have become primarily important, it is equally important to know the impact of various foods on our bodies. Many health complications in our day to day life are due to the kind of food diet we adopt. So, it is essential to carefully consider the food items which we include in our diet, which could help us in leading a healthy life.