You or someone you know probably has food allergies. An estimated 6% to 8% of children under the age of three have them and about 3% of adults do in the US.
A food allergy means the immune system overreacts to a certain food, even if it’s a small amount. This overreaction causes an allergic reaction with a number of symptoms.
Food allergy symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nasal congestion
- Swelling of the tongue or throat
- Trouble breathing
Severe, life-threatening allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis can also develop. It’s often present in young children and requires emergency treatment.
There are some foods that commonly cause allergic reactions in people. If you have food allergies, it’s best to stay away from these allergens.
While there are foods that cause allergic reactions, other foods can relieve the symptoms. In this article, we’ll review a list of common food allergens and the “good” foods to counteract the reactions.
The Most Common Food Allergens
When eating a food that you are allergic to, the immune system identifies that food as dangerous and triggers the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the allergen. In this process, there’s an excess of histamine and other chemicals. This then causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Adults are more likely to have food allergies to shellfish, fish, peanuts, and other nuts. On the other hand, children are more likely to have allergies to peanuts and other nuts, eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, soy, and corn.
There is also something called oral (or pollen)-food allergy syndrome. Those with hay fever experience this condition. Eating certain vegetables, spices, fruits, or nuts can trigger an allergic response. Symptoms can be mild to severe throat swelling and anaphylaxis. Scientists believe the proteins in these foods cause reactions because they share similarities with proteins from pollen.
Cooking those foods may help reduce the severity of allergic response. There is a cross-reactivity, and having certain airborne allergies may correlate with certain food allergies. For example, someone allergic to ragweed pollen may also react to cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, sunflower seeds, and zucchini. Some with allergies to various grasses may also react to the foods above as well as kiwi, peanuts, tomatoes, and white potatoes.
To summarize, the most common food allergies include:
- Tree nuts
- Cow’s milk
- Sunflower seeds
If you have an allergy to a certain food, avoid consuming it at all costs.
The “Good” Food Allergies List
There is another food allergies list you should consider. However, this doesn’t contain foods to avoid. Instead, it contains foods you should eat because they have anti-allergy effects. Your diet has a strong impact on your overall health and the severity of allergy symptoms.
Red Bell Peppers
According to one study involving over 4,500 children, those who had increased Vitamin C consumption had fewer symptoms of allergies. These findings show that dietary nutrients, especially Vitamin C, influence allergic reactions.
Red bell peppers are one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. One medium raw red bell pepper has 169% of the reference daily intake (RDI) of Vitamin C.
Citrus fruits, especially oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries are also great sources. However, these citrus fruits can also trigger the release of histamine in the body. This can be problematic in those who follow a low-histamine diet.
Based on studies, the higher levels of omega 3 you have, the lower is the risk of developing allergies. Omega 3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory effects. It appears this factor benefits in managing allergies.
You have two choices for how to increase your Omega 3 intake. You can eat more fatty fish or take supplements. Foods with Omega 3 include:
- Cod liver oil
- Chia seeds
The last two options are great for those with vegetarian or vegan diets and still want to get Omega 3 naturally.
Quercetin is a natural antihistamine compound found to aid in allergy management. Onions are a great natural source of this compound. Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This can help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies.
A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables also contain quercetin. If you don’t like the taste of onions, try these sources instead. Quercetin supplements are also available either alone or combined with other anti-allergy compounds.
Blueberries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Compared to other fruits, blueberries contain higher amounts of anthocyanins, which are the pigments that confer red, blue, and purple colors of ripe berries. These anthocyanins may help reduce itchiness, inflammation, improve blood glucose levels, promote heart and brain health, and balance the gut flora.
Foods can heal. Foods can make you sick. Choose wisely what you eat. Seek professional advice, preferably from a doctor specializing in nutrition, for an individualized diet. A variety of skin tests and food tests are available to detect food allergies and intolerances.