Medical Advice

Food Allergies: Myth vs. Truth

There are many points of view on food allergies that do not correspond with reality. Food allergy occurs when the immune system of a person fighting attackers – such as certain food components (e.g. proteins ). It is important to know the actual data on food allergies, since many of the myths about this topic can be confusing and can affect a person’s quality of life. The symptoms of food allergies can manifest in a dangerous way, but an informed person can take the right action as soon as possible.

Myths about food allergies

– Myth – Most people can eat in small amounts the food they are allergic to
Fact: Even if some of the people with food intolerance can eat small portions of the foods that cause them harm, people with allergies to certain foods should strictly avoid them.

– Myth – Real Allergies develop after adolescence
Fact: This is true. In most cases, food allergy symptoms appear during childhood but can develop at any time after the first exposure to a food. Instead, after adolescence the predisposition to certain allergens increases. For example, seafood allergy occurs some time after childhood, in adulthood.

– Myth – Allergies persist during the entire life
Fact: Most children exceed food allergies after the age of 10, except those who are allergic to nuts and peanuts. Research has confirmed that two out of ten children still have allergies after childhood.

– Myth – Through thermal processing, food allergens are destroyed and food can be eaten without problems
Fact: Actually, proteins that have an allergenic role in foods such as milk, eggs, peanuts and seafood do not decompose at high temperatures or in contact with stomach acid. These proteins can undergo molecular changes, and the effect will be diminished. However, how the food is cooked matters as well: boiled peanuts are less allergenic than roasted peanuts.

– Myth – Some people may be allergic to fruits and vegetables
Fact: This may happen to some of the people diagnosed with hay fever and those who are sensitive to pollen or people who are allergic to latex. Symptoms include itching or rash around the mouth and lips; this allergy is called oral allergy syndrome. By cooking at high temperatures, allergens that cause this type of reaction can be destroyed. There are also some vegetables that have a stronger allergenic effect than others in raw form, such as celery.

– Myth – An allergy or food intolerance can be easily self-diagnosed
Fact: This is false. An increasing number of people believe that their symptoms are caused by an allergy or food intolerance. Over 30% of people believe they are allergic or intolerant to one food or several foods, but experts estimate that only 5-8% of children and 2-4% of adults have food allergies.

– Myth – If a family member is suffering from food allergies then the other members are prone to them as well
Fact: If one of your parents or siblings was diagnosed with allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma or food allergies, you have a higher risk of developing these types of allergies. However, exactly the same allergies may not manifest.

– Myth – People diagnosed with one type of food allergies are more likely to develop other food allergies
Fact: It is true that the tendency of developing allergies for a person already suffering from a food allergy is greater. Thus, it can react to other types of allergens and allergic cross-reactivity may occur. This means that if a person is allergic to peanuts could react to its family food legumes such as soybeans, peas, lentils or beans.

– Myth – If you have an allergy or food intolerance then you may have an allergic reaction to cosmetic products
Fact: This is true: if you are an allergic person is important to read the label of every product that comes into direct contact with your body, not just the food we eat. For example, some cosmetics may contain oils or extracts of fruits or vegetables.

– Myth – If you suffer from allergies, the reactions will be more severe at every new contact with the allergen
Fact: Reactions to allergens are unpredictable. When they occur, they can be as less severe or intense than previous reactions. In addition, a person may not always have the same symptoms when exposed to the same allergen. The reactions depend on the type and dose of the allergen.

– Myth – Allergy or food intolerance can be cured
Fact: This is false. There is currently no cure for allergies or food intolerance. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid allergens. Researchers are trying to discover whether sensitizing strategies, such as those used to treat hay fever, can be applied to food allergies.

However, more studies are needed in this direction. If you think you have an allergy or food intolerance is important to consult your doctor before starting to exclude certain foods from your diet.

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