8 Most Common Food Allergies
By Helen West
Food allergies are extremely common. In fact, they affect around 5 percent of adults and 8 percent of children—and these percentages are rising (1).
Interestingly, although it's possible for any food to cause an allergy, most food allergies are caused by just eight foods (2).
This article is a detailed review of the 8 most common food allergies. It discusses their symptoms, who is at risk and what you can do about it.
What Is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is a condition in which certain foods trigger an abnormal immune response (2).
It's caused by your immune system wrongly recognizing some of the proteins in a food as harmful. Your body then launches a range of protective measures, including releasing chemicals like histamine, which causes inflammation.
For people who have a food allergy, even exposure to very small amounts of the problem food can cause an allergic reaction.
Symptoms can occur anywhere from a few minutes after exposure to a few hours later and they may include some of the following:
- Swelling of the tongue, mouth or face
- Difficulty breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Itchy rash
In more severe cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis. Symptoms, which can come on very quickly, include an itchy rash, swelling of the throat or tongue, shortness of breath and low blood pressure. Some cases can be fatal (3).
Many food intolerances are often mistaken for food allergies.
However, food intolerances never involve the immune system. This means that while they can severely impact your quality of life, they are not life threatening.
True food allergies can be divided into two main types: IgE antibody or non-IgE antibody. Antibodies are a type of blood protein used by your immune system to recognize and fight infection (4).
In an IgE food allergy, the IgE antibody is released by your immune system. In a non-IgE food allergy, IgE antibodies aren't released and other parts of the immune system are used to fight the perceived threat.
Here are the eight most common food allergies.
1. Cow's Milk
It's one of the most common childhood allergies, affecting 2–3 percent of babies and toddlers (7).
However, around 90 percent of children will outgrow the condition by the time they're three, making it much less common in adults.
A cow's milk allergy can occur in both IgE and non-IgE forms, but IgE cow milk allergies are the most common and potentially the most serious.
Children or adults with an IgE allergy tend to have a reaction within 5–30 minutes of ingesting cow's milk. They experience symptoms like swelling, rashes, hives, vomiting and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis.
A non-IgE allergy usually has more gut-based symptoms like vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, as well as inflammation of the gut wall (6).
A non-IgE milk allergy can be quite difficult to diagnose. This is because sometimes the symptoms can suggest an intolerance and there is no blood test for it (8).
If a diagnosis of a cow's milk allergy is made, the only treatment is to avoid cow's milk and foods that contain it. This includes any foods or drinks that contain:
- Milk powder
- Ice cream
Breastfeeding mothers of babies with an allergy may also have to remove cow's milk and foods that contain it from their own diets.
As for babies who aren't breastfeeding, a suitable alternative to a cow's milk-based formula will be recommended by a health professional (9).
Summary: A cow's milk allergy mostly affects children under the age of three. A diagnosis of cow's milk allergy means that all milk and milk products must be avoided.
However, 68 percent of children who are allergic to eggs will outgrow their allergy by the time they're 16 (12).
- Digestive distress, such as a stomach ache
- Skin reactions, such as hives or a rash
- Respiratory problems
- Anaphylaxis (which is rare)
Interestingly, it's possible to be allergic to egg whites, but not the yolks and vice versa. This is because the proteins in egg whites and egg yolks differ slightly.
Yet most of the proteins that trigger an allergy are found in egg whites, so an egg white allergy is more common (11).
Like other allergies, the treatment for an egg allergy is an egg-free diet (13).
However, you may not have to avoid all egg-related foods, as heating eggs can change the shape of the allergy-causing proteins. This can stop your body from seeing them as harmful, meaning they're less likely to cause a reaction (14, 15, 16).
In fact, one study found that around 70 percent of children with an egg allergy could tolerate eating biscuits or cakes containing a cooked egg component (17).
Some studies have also shown that introducing baked goods to children with an egg allergy can shorten the time it takes for them to outgrow the condition (18).
Nevertheless, this isn't the case for everybody and the consequences of ingesting eggs when you are allergic to them can be severe. Because of this, you should check with your doctor before you reintroduce any egg-containing foods.
Summary: The most common type of egg allergy is an egg white allergy. The treatment is an egg-free diet. However, some people may be able to reintroduce some foods containing cooked eggs into their diet.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.
The Sierra Club released a new analysis Friday that found that transitioning all 1,400+ U.S. Conference of Mayors member-cities to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity will significantly reduce electric sector carbon pollution nationwide and help the U.S. towards meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Watch above as Newsy explains that the decision comes despite serious concerns from the environmental and scientific community, and Tribal Nations about a declining, isolated grizzly bear population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities.
By Francine Kershaw
Seismic airguns exploding in the ocean in search for oil and gas have devastating impacts on zooplankton, which are critical food sources for marine mammals, according to a new study in Nature. The blasting decimates one of the ocean's most vital groups of organisms over huge areas and may disrupt entire ecosystems.
And this devastating news comes on the heels of the National Marine Fisheries Service's proposal to authorize more than 90,000 miles of active seismic blasting. Based on the results of this study, the affected area would be approximately 135,000 square miles.
By Jill Richardson
Is coconut oil:
- good for you
- bad for you
- neither good nor bad
- scientists don't know
The subject of this question is the source of a disagreement. Initially, the question was thought to be settled decades ago, when scientist Ancel Keys declared all saturated fats unhealthy. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is a saturated fat.