Common and Known Food Allergies
What are food allergies? We as Americans are quite attached to our comfort foods, especially when we’re under a lot of stress. Most of us hold our comfort foods sacred, even when faced with the inconvenient truth with nutritional experts preaching about junk food’s demise on our bodies. It is often these “comfort foods” to which we are most sensitive or allergic. Lets look at common and known food allergies.
The biggest dietary offenders that create food allergies
You most likely can guess what the top 5 foods that are on the food allergy hit parade.
They are foods we Americans consume with unconscious pleasure. Maybe the foods you eat at every meal, because they are easy to put together and are available at most supermarkets.
The top 5 foods known to be causing food allergies:
1) Milk and Dairy Products.
For many people, it is hard to digest the lactose sugars or casein proteins in milk. Ice cream and other frozen desserts are difficult to ban from our diets, until diarrhea and a cantankerous belly, nasty skin conditions or migraines take over our lives. We don’t get the connection between our favorite comfort foods and the ways our bodies let us know this is not agreeable match. We love our creamy flavorful yogurts and cheeses, milk shakes & smoothies, butter, kefir and other milk products. We don’t realize that it’s the casein proteins that are stirring up trouble.
2) Wheat and other Gluten Containing Grains
An article in Oprah Magazine, titled , “Get Gluten Smart,” says that an estimated 18-20 million Americans struggle with wheat and gluten as a food sensitivity that is challenging to medically diagnose with blood work or GI testing. (June 2011)
3) Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten enriched grains include wheat, rye, barley, oats, couscous and triticale. Extreme gluten sensitivity manifests in celiac disease, a type of autoimmune disorder in which the immune system responds to gluten by damaging the small intestines. More common to many Americans in their 40’s & 5o’s is gluten intolerance, a broad term that includes a wide range of sensitivities and subtle symptoms from weakness to fatigue. Gluten sensitivity is so universal these days that special gluten free diets have become quite common.
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. It is the exceptionally sturdy gluten protein in the wheat that wreaks so much havoc in our body’s organs and tissues. A lifetime of regular consumption on a daily basis leaves its toll on our GI tract, for the many that are gluten sensitive. Wheat shows up in our favorite breads, baked goods, cereals and pasta foods (semolina or durham flour), pastry or spelt flours, bran & couscous, to name a few.
What exactly is it about gluten that makes life so troubling for a growing population of children and adults? Gluten is an exceptional sturdy protein that is difficult to digest. The amount of gluten protein that is in wheat has increased by 16 times over the last 40 years, and resultantly, it’s been more challenging for more Americans to digest, when exposed to it every day in some form or another.
Wheat is hidden in many commonly used foods such as salad dressings, cereals & pastas. Wheat and milk are the two most common allergenic foods and they are often eaten together in our American diet, as with milk on cereal, cheese pizza laid out on a wheat crust or macaroni and cheese.
4) Sugar and other Sweeteners. Most Americans cultivate a sweet tooth from early childhood. We indulge those cravings when under stress. A little sugar and our bodies can adapt to but larger portions of it throughout the day sets us up for yeast overgrowth and pancreatic challenges as we grow older. Sugar comes in many forms: granulated sugar or sucrose, brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, molasses, high fructose & artificial sweeteners .
The American obsession to stay thin has made us vulnerable to other quick fixes, such as low calorie artificial sweeteners, which many individuals have strong allergic reactions to, similar to the same reactive ingredients of MSG.
It’s in our breakfast cereals, grits, corn bread, tortillas & tacos, many snack foods, popcorn, corn oil, cornstarch thickeners and sweeteners (high fructose corn sweeteners used in fruit drinks & sodas).
6) Soy Products
Soy allergies are more frequently seen with infants who utilize alternatives to breast milk with soy protein formulas. Most of us are familiar with it as stables in oriental or vegetarian diets. Think of soy milk, tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers and TVP.
Soy is readily used by the food industry for various foods: texturizers, emulsifiers and protein fillers. You’ll find it in high protein bars and powders, soy based salad dressings, textured vegetable proteins and lastly in chocolate ingredients (utilizing the soy based lecithin granules).
Other runner ups for common food allergies and allergic reactions
- Man made chemical foods
- food additives and colorings
- artificial sweeteners
- sulphite preservatives
- citric acid flavorings.