The 9 Most Common Food Allergies
If you think you have a food allergy, seek the help of a medical professional for testing and proper diagnosis.
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9 Major Food Allergens
Thirty-two million Americans are living with potentially life threatening food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), and every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. If you suspect a food allergy, seek the help of a qualified medical professional who can evaluate, diagnose and treat it properly. It’s not advisable to self-diagnose a food allergy as it can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions and inadequate nutrition, which is especially concerning in children. There are several tests (or a combination of tests) that can be done in order to diagnose a food allergy including an oral food challenge, prick test, blood tests and food elimination diets. None of these tests can predict the severity of the next food allergy reaction. Regular testing is also recommended as food allergies can be outgrown over time. Here are nine of the most common food allergens and some hidden foods where they may be found.
Cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy in infants and yogurt children. However, most children eventually outgrow their allergy to milk.
Milk is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packages sold in the U.S. Some foods or terms may be listed on the package that contain milk include casein, curds, custard, ghee, half-and-half, pudding, lactose, and whey.
Egg allergy is among the most common food allergy in infants and yogurt children but less common in older children and adults. According to FARE, 71% of children eventually outgrow their allergy to egg by the age of 6 years.
To prevent a reaction, avoid eggs and egg products. Read food labels and for food you have not prepared, ask about the ingredients used. Also avoid cross-contact with eggs and egg products. Some ingredients and foods that contain eggs that you may not be familiar with include albumin, eggnog, mayonnaise, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucoid, surimi, and vitellin.
Peanut allergy is the most common food allergy kids under the age of 18 and the third most common food allergy in adults. According to FARE, only about 20% of children with peanut allergy outgrow it.
To prevent a reaction, avoid peanut ad peanut products and read food labels as peanut is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packages sold in the U.S. In addition, peanuts and tree nuts tend to touch each other during manufacturing and serving and can cause a reaction due to cross-contact. Here are some foods and ingredients to avoid if you have a peanut allergy: artificial nuts, arachis oil, beer nuts, ground nuts, monkey nuts, nut meal, peanut flour, and peanut protein hydrolysate.
Soy allergy is more common in infants and young kids compared to older children. According to FARE, about 0.4% of infants in the U.S. have soy allergy. Most kids outgrow their soy allergy, though some folks remain allergic their entire lives.
To prevent a reaction, avoid soy and soy products. Always read food labels as soy is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged food sold in the U.S. Soy is widely used in a variety of processed foods and eliminating all those foods can result in an unbalanced diet. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can help plan a well-balanced diet in those with a soy allergy. Foods and ingredients to avoid if you have a soy allergy include edamame, miso, natto, okara, shoyu, soya, soybean, soy sauce, tamari, tempeh, texturized vegetable protein (TVP), and tofu.
Wheat allergy is usually reported in young kids and according to FARE may affect up to 1% of kids in the U.S. Research reported by FARE found that two-thirds of kids with a wheat allergy outgrow it by age 12 years, but some folks live with a wheat allergy throughout their lives.
To prevent a reaction, avoid wheat and wheat-containing foods. Read food labels as wheat is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on food packages sold in the U.S. Although wheat is the most common grain product in the U.S. those with a wheat allergy are rarely allergic to other common grains such as amaranth, barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rice, rye and tapioca. Also, here are some foods or ingredients that contain wheat that should be avoided: bread crumbs, bulgur, cereal extract, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, farro, all-purpose floud, freekeh, kamut, matzoh, pasta, seitan, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat germ oil, wheat grass, wheat protein isolate, and whole wheat berries.
Tree nut allergies are one of the most common food allergies in children and adults. The six tree nut allergies most commonly reported include walnut, almond, hazelnut, pecan, cashew, and pistachio. According to FARE, about 50% of kids that are allergic to one tree nut are allergic to another tree nut. Most kids who are allergic to one or more tree nuts don’t outgrow the allergy.
To prevent a reaction, avoid all tree nuts and tree nut products. If you’re allergic to tree nuts, your doctor may recommend avoided peanuts as there is a higher risk of cross-contact with tree nuts during manufacturing and processing. Some foods and ingredients to avoid if you are allergic to tree nuts include artificial nuts, beechnut, black walnut hull extract, brazil nut, butternut, filbert/hazelnut, ginko nut, hickory nut, lychee nut, marzipan, nangai nut, natural nut extract, nut meal, nut butters, nut oils, nut paste, pesto, pine nuts, shea nuts, and walnut hull extract.
Shellfish allergies are one of the most common food allergies in kids and adults. According to FARE, about 2% of the U.S. population reports an allergy to shellfish. The allergy is usually lifelong.
To prevent a reaction, avoid all shellfish and shellfish product. Always read the food label and ask questions about the ingredients used if you did not prepare the dish. Most folks allergic to one group of shellfish tend to be allergic to other types. Work with your doctor to determine if further testing is needed. In addition, it’s recommended to avoid seafood restaurants where there is a high risk of food cross-contact. Crustacean shellfish (like lobster and crabs) are one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged food sold in the U.S. Mollusks, however, do not required to be labelled in the U.S. Foods that contain shellfish or any of the following ingredients should be avoided: barnacle, crab, crawfish, krill, lobster, prawns, and shrimp.
Finned fish in one of the most common food allergies and according to FARE, about 1% of the U.S. population has the allergy. According to FARE, research has found that the most commonly reported fish allergies are to salmon, tuna, catfish, and cod.
To avoid a reaction, avoid fish and fish products and always read the label as finned fish is one of eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged food sold in the U.S. It’s recommended to stay away from seafood restaurants and fish markets as there is a high risk of cross-contact. There are more than 20,000 species of fish, but some of the most common allergic reactions are found in anchovies, bass, catfish, cod, flounder, grouper, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, mahi mahi, perch, pike, Pollock, salmon, scrod, sole, snapper, swordfish, tilapia, trout, and tuna. The following fish products should also be avoided: fish flavoring, fish oil fish gelatin, and fish sticks.
Sesame is the ninth most common food allergy among kids and adults in the U.S. According to FARE, there have been several reports suggesting that sesame allergy has increased significantly around the world over the past 20 years.
To avoid a reaction, avoid sesame and sesame ingredients which can be listed by many uncommon names. Always read food labels and ask about the ingredients if you did not prepare the dish. Some of the foods that contain sesame or sesame ingredients that should be avoided include benne, gingelly, halvah, gomasio, sesamol, sesamum indicum, sesemolina, sim sim, tahini, and til.