Almost millions of individuals all over the world have food allergy and most of these allergies are triggered by any of the top eight food allergens – eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, soy and wheat. A variety of processed foods contain one or more of these ingredients or components, although any ingredient or food might be considered as the culprit. If the individual experiences an allergic reaction to any processed food, a doctor should be consulted so that allergy testing can be performed.
Close look on food allergies
It is important to note that food allergies are triggered when the body perceives a specific food as a threat. As a result, an immune system response is triggered which releases histamine and other chemicals to fight off the perceived threat. The reaction can trigger the typical symptoms linked with an allergy such as runny eyes, sneezing or hives.
The food allergies usually trigger digestive symptoms which includes the following:
- Abdominal cramping
Always bear in mind that food allergies are often confused with food intolerance due to the similarity of these digestive-related symptoms. Food intolerance is not linked with the immune system and not considered as dangerous as food allergies. A severe food allergy can cause the body to go into a state of shock that can be fatal.
There are several processed foods that often contain one or several of the eight major allergens linked with food allergies, especially wheat, soy and milk. The processing that some of these foods undergo can reduce their potential to elicit an allergic reaction but most allergens might stay stable after processing and can trigger an allergic response among highly sensitive individuals.
In some circumstances, it might be possible that a different ingredient or component in processed food such as preservatives or spice might trigger a reaction. A good example is sulfite which is a preservative that is oftentimes utilized in canned products and processed foods.
Isolation of the allergen is the initial step in managing an allergy. An allergist utilizes several testing methods in order to determine the exact cause of the allergy. This includes blood tests as well as tests that involve the application of allergens to the skin to monitor for a reaction.
In case the tests are not successful, the individual might be asked to ingest an allergen to check for a reaction. Remember that this can be dangerous and should only be done in the doctor’s clinic or healthcare facility. The individual is also instructed to avoid certain foods at some point to check if it eliminates any symptoms.
Precautions to bear in mind
At the present, there is no cure for food allergies but avoidance of the potential allergen can help prevent possible reactions from occurring. Take note that this can be a challenging task with processed foods since many common allergens are present in foods that might not be linked with them.
It is important to carefully read all the labels in foods bought in order to avoid an allergic reaction. Remember that the ingredients in certain foods might change, thus read the labels at all times. In case the individual is uncertain regarding the ingredients present in a particular processed food, contact the manufacturer.