Before knowing what allergenic foods are and what are, let's get to know them how our body reacts when a food allergy is present.
The immune system and the allergic response
Our immune system has the function of protect the whole body from dangerous substances and harmful that come from the outside. In the presence of germs, viruses, bacteria and other harmful substances, the immune system is activated and generates a response to eliminate these substances.
The immune system recognizes the substances from particular elements that are found on the said surface antigens. These are peptides or proteins with a specific and different shape for each substance. If the immune system with its antibodies recognizes an antigen as "good" then it does not react while if it recognizes an antigen as "bad" then it promptly activates the response of the defensive system which has the purpose of eliminating these harmful substances for the body.
This defense mechanism originates from the recognition of these antigens present on substances which triggers the immune response when they are recognized as dangerous. Each virus, bacterium and substance including food carries different and specific antigens on its surface that the immune system learns to recognize.
The allergic reaction is triggered when the immune system reacts strongly to a substance. This can lead to various symptoms such as sneezing, rashes on the skin, coughing, itchy eyes, nose, mouth and lips as well as swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fatigue in breathing.
All of these are ejection mechanisms that the body tries to implement to expel the allergenic substance. Food allergies have the same dynamics and usually lead to mild allergic forms but in rare cases the reaction can be even fatal as in the case of anaphylactic shock.
Allergy or intolerance?
These two terms are often confused allergy o food intolerance. When a food is allergenic it causes an immune system response immediately after ingestion of food. On the other hand, in case of intolerance to a food, the reaction of the body that can give symptoms almost similar to allergy, however, they take much longer to manifest.
A food intolerance takes longer to develop and does not involve the immune system, while a food allergy quickly triggers the response of the immune system that manifests various symptoms to eliminate that food that has incompatible antigens and therefore allergenic.
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The most allergenic foods
As we have understood, there are foods that have antigens on their surface that are more allergenic than others. People with food allergies have the immune system that reacts more to these antigens on food.
Food allergies have grown a lot in recent years and the estimate of those who suffer from it hovers around the 6% in children and 4% in adults.
Between the foods most at risk of triggering a food allergy there are:
> All cereals (such as wheat) they contain gluten;
> crustaceans, molluscs and fish;
> the egg;
> dried fruit and nuts (especially peanuts and walnuts);
> soy and products derived from it;
> lupine (which is a legume) and celery.
With the name of food allergens we speak both food and substances that make up the food but which in both cases are capable of triggering immune-mediated reactions in our organism.
In case of food allergy, the only solution is not to eat these allergenic foods. Thus avoiding the antigens present on the food consequently there will be no immune response because there is no contact. Eliminating allergenic foods from your diet is the immediate cure for people with food allergies.
To help the population suffering from food allergies have also been done specific laws to indicate the foods and ingredients most at risk of allergenic manifestations.
Allergenic foods and European laws
The European Commission has established that the label of all packaged food products must be indicated the presence of allergenic ingredients is clearly visible.
In fact, if we take any food product we will see that some ingredients are written in bold type and this indicates that they can cause food allergies.
The main allergenic ingredients are recognized in 14 foods which are peanuts, cereals containing gluten, egg, milk, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, nuts and nuts, soy, lupine, celery and also sulfur dioxide, sesame seeds and mustard.
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