Most of us are aware that seasonal allergies triggered by pollen can cause temporary discomfort (read our recent blog post to learn how to combat them naturally). However, fewer people realize that food allergies can cause long-term discomfort and systemic inflammation if not addressed.
According to FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, up to 15 million people in the U.S. – and 1 in 13 children – have a food allergy. However, this doesn’t take into account people with food sensitivities or intolerances, so that number is likely much higher.
A food allergy is defined as an overreaction by the body’s immune system to a specific protein in a food. As an immune-based disease, food allergies have the potential to become serious health concerns if left unidentified and untreated.
Some mild food allergy symptoms can include:
- digestive issues (diarrhea or constipation)
- stomach pain
- hives (red, itchy, swollen areas of skin )
- eczema (a dry, itchy rash that persists over time)
- a slight, dry cough
- itchy mouth or ear canal
- redness of the skin around the eyes
More severe food allergy symptoms can include swelling of the lips, tongue or throat that can obstruct swallowing or breathing, dizziness, wheezing or shortness of breath, and a loss of consciousness.
The 8 most common foods people are allergic to are:
- cow’s milk/dairy
- tree nuts
Some other culprits can include corn, citrus fruits, hydrogenated oils, added/refined sugars and Sometimes alcohol and caffeine. In addition, a class of vegetables called the nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers) cause allergies in certain people, especially those with a wheat sensitivity.
So what’s the big deal if you’re allergic to a food and don’t know it? Food allergies can cause chronic inflammation in the body, which can lead to disease. Left unaddressed, food allergies have been associated with an increased chance of developing serious conditions including
- chronic fatigue
- mood disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- learning disabilities like ADHD
- arthritis/ joint pain
- migraine headaches
If you have unexplained symptoms and think you may have a food allergy but can’t pinpoint the cause, an elimination diet could help to identify the culprit. We’ll explore the benefits of an elimination diet in our next blog post.