What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it. The next time the individual eats that food, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and/or cardiovascular system. Scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?Many people think the terms food allergy and food intolerance mean the same thing; however, they do not. A food intolerance is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance is one example of a food intolerance. A person with lactose intolerance lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest milk sugar. When the person eats milk products, symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur.A food allergy occurs when the immune system reacts to a certain food. The most common form of an immune system reaction occurs when the body creates immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the food. When these IgE antibodies react with the food, histamine and other chemicals (called “mediators”) are released, causing hives, asthma, or other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
This post was written by one of our newest contributors… Jaime. Her son has multiple food allergies and she is continually trying new ways to make his life easier and prepare healthly allergen free foods.
Do you or your children have food allergies? Do you have a food allergy theory?
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