Food Allergies Are Becoming More Widespread

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What are food allergies and food intolerances?

Food Allergies Are Becoming More Widespread

Have you ever met someone with food allergies? It's likely that you have. According to Dr. Hugh Sampson, Professor of Pediatrics and Immunobiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, 3.4 to 4 percent of Americans have some kind of food allergy. Unfortunately, this percentage is significantly larger than it has been in the last 20 years, and we're not sure why.

Some speculate that our houses are too clean and don't expose our immune systems to parasites. Thus, the immune system turns on itself and starts fighting off "safe" proteins, like the ones found in nuts. Others think the increase in peanut allergies, for example, is caused by pregnant and nursing women eating peanuts and peanut butter and creating an allergy for their infants. Unfortunately, we don't have any solid information to help prevent these allergies.

Some people have food intolerances, which may cause them to have an unpleasant reaction to a certain food. While this is often labeled a food allergy, it is not a true allergic reaction. A true food allergy sparks a reaction by the immune system, which can be quite dangerous or even fatal. With a food intolerance, the immune system is not involved.

Interestingly enough, 90% of common food allergies are to only eight foods:
* Peanut
* Tree nut
* Milk (Dairy)
* Egg
* Soy
* Wheat
* Fish
* Shellfish

If you suspect that you or your child has a true food allergy, it's imperative to visit your doctor who will test for food allergies.



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