Which Foods Cause Allergies?

Which Food Cause Allergic Reactions?

While the range of foods that can cause an allergic reaction is huge, there are a top few culprits. For example, for every one person allergic to garlic or avocados, a thousand more are allergic to milk or peanuts.

Top Foods That Cause Allergic Reactions

Nuts from trees (walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and hazelnuts).
Shellfish (including mussels, crab and shrimp/prawns)

However, it is quite possible to be allergic to a less common food like:

Aubergines (Eggplant)
Spices and herbs (coriander, caraway, fennel, garlic)
Alcohol (particularly white wine)

When You Have A Delayed Reaction

The list of foods that can cause an allergy is fairly endless. For that reason, if you show symptoms of a reaction, even if that food is not known to be a common cause of allergy, pay attention. Sometimes patients are told incorrectly by non-specialist doctors 'You can't possibly be allergic to that - no one is allergic to that.'

It is also worth knowing that while most reactions occur quickly, sometimes there can be delay of up to several hours. In certain cases it is only when the food enters the digestion system that the food reaction takes place. Take Claire for example, she says 'I visited friends one evening, and they cooked moussaka. I enjoyed the meal, caught a taxi home, and went to bed,' she recalls. 'Then I woke up some time after midnight - about 5 hours after eating the meal - feeling ill. I vomited continuously until my stomach was completely empty, and continued to retch even when there was nothing to bring up." This delayed form of food allergy seems to be particularly common with soya allergy.

Reaction After Exercise

Some people only react to their food allergen if they also take exercise soon afterwards. Wheat is a common culprit in this form of food allergy, and new research shows how - for some people -the stimulation of the body's metabolism by exercise can promote the breakdown of wheat into highly allergenic products. Sometimes more than one food has to be present at the same time to trigger the allergic response. A case was reported not along ago in which doctors showed, beyond any doubt, that their patient's allergic reaction was only brought on by a combination of eating wheat, eating food additives (mainly found in junk food), drinking alcohol and taking exercise soon afterwards. It is difficult to say how rare it is for people to have such complex triggers for allergic reactions, but this phenomenon could explain some cases of idiopathic anaphylaxis (where no cause for a severe reaction is found). See also, can allergies kill you?

Why Certain Foods Are More Likely To Cause A Reaction

Why are certain foods more likely to cause allergic reactions than others? In the case of cow's milk, the early exposure of the fetus to large doses of milk allergen (carried in the mother's bloodstream), followed by feeding with cow's milk formula, may make the development of allergic reactions more likely.
Frequency of eating the food also seems to have some influence. For example, rice allergy is very rare in Europe and the United States, but more frequently seen in Asia. In the Western world, the foods most likely to provoke a food allergy include several staples such as wheat, egg, milk and, increasingly, soya (now widespread in processed meals). Next, how are food allergies diagnosed?

Alcohol Reactions

Some puzzling reactions to food may be explained by extreme sensitivity to alcohol. A few people have a severe reaction after consuming just a trace of alcohol - in overripe fruit, for example, chocolate truffles or salad dressing made with wine vinegar. This is an anaphylactoid reaction but it looks and feels exactly like true anaphylaxis. A few individuals can react in this way if alcohol simply comes in contact with their skin: some is clearly absorbed into the bloodstream.

• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions

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