When Food Becomes the Enemy

Maple Glazed WalnutsHave you ever experienced uncomfortable symptoms after eating a meal? Do your favorite foods cause gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, heartburn or diarrhea? Have you noticed itching in any part of your body after eating? Does shortness of breath or difficulty breathing ever become a problem? If so, you may have a food allergy. Any food can become problematic at any age. Symptoms of a food allergy can present immediately after consuming the allergenic food. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and affect any part of the body from the skin to the intestinal lining. Food allergies affect approximately two percent of American adults and four to eight percent of American children. Food allergies can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Some people suffer years before being properly diagnosed. So what do you do when food becomes the enemy? Treatment usually involves complete removal of the food causing the reaction.  More than 160 foods have been reported to cause allergies however there are eight foods or food groups that are responsible for about 90% of food allergies in the United States. These eight allergy-causing foods are: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts (like walnuts and pecans) and wheat. Foods that cause allergies differ according to geographic location and are correlated with frequency of consumption.

If you are experiencing symptoms, keep a food log to see if you can identify the offending food. If you have a severe reaction such as difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Food allergies can be lethal. Consider testing for food allergies if you notice symptoms following the consumption of certain foods. Your doctor can order the test for you. And just remember that total avoidance of the offending food is the only way to assure safety. Your body will thank you.

More information about food allergies can be found on the U.S. FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/Food.

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