How to Identify Food Allergies and Treat Them
Food allergies are on the rise and invisible to most people. They’re also known as hypersensitivity reactions to certain foods. Foods can trigger a variety of allergic reactions in different people. Unless you know what your symptoms mean, you may not even realize you’ve been exposed to an allergen repeatedly. It’s easy to become unaware of your food sensitivity if you eat frequently out or have limited access to suspicious ingredients in your daily routine. However, it’s important to identify your sensitivities so you can take action. Here are some steps you can take to identify your sensitivity and treat it.
Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to certain foods, triggering an abnormal response. Common symptoms of a food allergy include hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, food allergies can be life-threatening and cause anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction.
To identify food allergies, it’s recommended to undergo allergy testing by a qualified healthcare professional. The most common allergy tests include skin prick testing, blood tests, and elimination diets. During skin prick testing, small amounts of suspected allergens are pricked into the skin and the reaction is observed. Blood tests measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood. An elimination diet involves removing suspected allergens from the diet for a period of time and then gradually reintroducing them to identify which foods trigger a reaction.
It’s important to identify food allergies as early as possible to prevent severe reactions and to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment for food allergies may include avoiding the allergen altogether, carrying epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency use, and working with a healthcare professional to develop a management plan.
Talk to Your Doctor
One of the best ways to identify your sensitivity and treat it is to have your allergist or allergist-dietitian consult with you. They can help you with your food allergy diagnosis and treatment. They’ll also be able to identify additional dietary needs you might have, like additional supplements you need. If you have a family member with food allergies, talk to them first. They may be able to give you some important insights as to why you’ve been reacting to certain foods.
Research the Symptoms You Experience
If you’re not sure what you’re experiencing after eating certain foods, or you’re experiencing symptoms that don’t make sense, researching them can give you clarity. If you experience hives after eating certain foods, for example, you may want to look into how those foods affect you. If you’re experiencing stomach issues, you may want to double-check if you’re eating a balanced diet. You may also want to double-check if you’ve been stressed or have any other underlying issues that could be causing your symptoms. If you notice that certain foods trigger symptoms you didn’t expect, you may want to avoid them when possible.
Read labels and ingredients lists
Reading labels and ingredient lists can give you a better idea of what you’re consuming. If you’re sensitive to a certain ingredient included in the ingredients list, you’ll want to avoid that food. When reading labels, you may want to keep in mind that food allergies are often not immediately obvious. A lot of people don’t even realize they’ve been exposed to an allergen repeatedly. Some of the ingredients you want to look out for include corn, wheat, dairy, soy, tree nuts and peanuts. If you’re allergic to any of these, you’ll want to avoid that food. You may also be allergic to certain strains of fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes.
Eat a Balanced Diet
If you have a sensitivity to a certain food, you’ll want to focus on eating a balanced diet. Avoiding the allergen on a regular basis and including foods that are low in the allergen can help alleviate allergic symptoms. Eating a balanced diet can also help prevent additional food allergies. Some examples of a balanced diet include: – At least five servings of vegetables and fruits per day – Legumes and whole grains – Lean proteins such as fish, poultry and lean beef – Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and oils You may also want to consider including some of these foods to help reduce your sensitivity to a certain allergen: – Probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut – Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchi – Grass-fed meats – Oats – Psyllium husk
Eating a balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing many chronic diseases. A balanced diet is one that provides all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the right amounts to support the body’s functions. The following are some tips for achieving a balanced diet:
- Eat a variety of foods: Include a variety of foods from all the major food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Choose whole foods: Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are packed with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that are important for overall health.
- Limit processed foods: Processed foods are often high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats, and can contribute to weight gain and chronic diseases.
- Control portion sizes: Eating too much of any food, even healthy foods, can lead to weight gain. Use portion control to manage your calorie intake.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and other hydrating beverages, such as herbal tea or low-fat milk, can help you maintain optimal hydration levels.
Remember, a balanced diet is not just about what you eat, but also how much you eat and how often. It’s important to practice moderation and balance in your overall dietary habits.
Avoid the Allergen When Possible
Foods that commonly trigger allergic reactions in some people are often unavoidable. If you have a corn allergy, for example, you’ll want to avoid corn when possible. Corn doesn’t contain much protein and is used as a filler. If you’re experiencing allergic symptoms after consuming a food you know is corn-free, such as pretzels, you may want to double-check that it’s really corn you’re eating. You may also want to consider consulting with your allergist-dietitian for help in identifying your allergies. Some allergies are so low-profile that you might not know you’re sensitive to them. It’s important to be aware of your food sensitivities so you can take action. Identifying your sensitivities and treating them is important for health.
Given the increase in food allergies, it’s important to know how to identify them and treat them. You may want to consider consulting with your allergist-dietitian, who can help you identify your sensitivities and guide you on how to maintain a balanced diet. You can also do your part by reading ingredients lists and labels and avoiding the foods you’re sensitive to.