Parents of children with food allergies frequently worry, especially around the time of holidays when different or exotic foods are circulating.
Essentially, experts believe that a food allergy is any reaction to an otherwise harmless food that has an adverse impact on the body’s immune system. A reaction usually occurs when the immune system responds abnormally to the protein or proteins in that particular food.
The body then reacts by flooding the system with histamines and other chemicals to fight off what is perceived as an alien substance in the body.
Meanwhile, this story can even be worse. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs rapidly and can involve only a very small amount of food. The most common causes are foods and insect stings. In addition, the most common food allergens are peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish and shellfish. Also acting as culprits, to a lesser extent, are sesame, soy and wheat.
Thousands of people are thought to be at risk of anaphylaxis. While anaphylaxis has the potential to cause death, fatalities are rare and usually avoidable.
Why Is Peanut Food Allergy So Severe?
Peanuts are a complex plant food, with more than 30 different proteins. Research is still ongoing to identify exactly which proteins trigger an allergic reaction and why the reaction can vary in severity among allergy sufferers.
To date, three proteins have been isolated that may be responsible for the allergy. We know that the process of refining the peanut to oil removes the protein that triggers an allergic reaction. We also know that peanut allergy appears to be progressive, as subsequent reactions tend to be more severe. Other foods that can cause severe reactions are other nuts and shellfish.
The exposure to food ingredients and their degree of severity is surprisingly endless. Consumers need to arm themselves with the resources and tools to become educated and empowered so that appropriate nutritional behavior can be maintained. FoodFacts.com has the world’s first and only comprehensive food ingredient database and provides consumers with a vast array of information to become better prepared. Visit FoodFacts for more information.