10 Most Common Food Allergies

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10 Most Common Food Allergies
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10 Most Common Food Allergies

Milk
Milk only does some bodies good. Many mistake a milk allergy for lactose intolerance since many of the symptoms are similar, but a milk allergy occurs when the body's immune system reacts abnormally to milk proteins, while lactose intolerance involves digestive problems as a result of being incapable of breaking down certain enzymes.

Credit: Flickr/aimeewenske

Eggs
Eggs are great for protein, energy, and filling you up. But to those who are allergic, eating eggs in any recipe can be rather unpleasant. While mostly children less than 5 years old suffer from this allergy and often outgrow it, some carry it into adulthood.

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Peanuts
This salty, nutty treat is often responsible for many serious allergic reactions. When the body identifies peanut proteins as harmful, the immune system releases symptom-causing chemicals into the bloodstream, causing mild to severe allergic reactions.

Credit: Flickr/Mykl Roventine

Soy
Sushi lovers may have soy to blame for allergic reactions rather than the fish. Soy allergies can be introduced to infants through soy-based formula, and in this case are often detected early. Though soy seems like an easily identified allergen, it can pop up in unexpected everyday foods including meat products, baked goods, chocolate, and cereals.

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Wheat
The primary protein the immune system attacks when allergic to wheat is gluten. Wheat allergies are extremely common but are often confused with celiac disease, a condition that essentially prevents the body from absorbing proper nutrients and causes an adverse reaction to gluten. Because wheat is found in breads, pasta, crackers, and even beer, wheat products are tough to avoid.

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Tree Nuts
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), tree nut allergies affect 1.2 percent of the population. These nuts include everything from almonds to cashews and pecans to macadamias, and if you’re allergic to one of them, you’re most likely allergic to a few of them.

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Shellfish
One common food allergy that’s easy to identify is the immune system's intolerance of shellfish. Unlike many common food allergies, shellfish allergies are far more common in adults than children.

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Fish
Finned fish can just as easily cause allergic reactions as shellfish. While the proteins in fish most often incite the immune system's reactions, fish gelatin (in the bones and skin of fish) can be responsible for allergic side effects as well.

Credit: Flickr/Ralph and Jenny

Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Some seasonal allergy sufferers also experience itching and discomfort upon biting into a succulent peach or gnawing on a raw carrot. Because raw fruits and vegetables contain the same proteins as some pollen, it is easy to develop oral allergy symptoms.

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Sesame Seeds
Put down the everything bagel — one seed on your favorite breakfast treat could cause a boatload of allergenic symptoms. The number of sesame seed allergies has grown in the U.S, but it’s not yet required for companies to put sesame seed warnings on food labels.

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For the millions of Americans who suffer from food allergies, it can be difficult to enjoy party food or a slice of the office birthday cake, because there is a risk of eating something they shouldn't. Of course, notifying restaurants, hosts, friends, and even co-workers helps, but what's even better is understanding where these potentially harmful ingredients are found (and what they're called) to avoid any future mishaps.

Click here to see the 10 Most Common Food Allergies


Why do food allergies occur? For some unknown reason, if your immune system mistakenly identifies a certain food as harmful, it triggers cells to release antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the allergen. The next time you eat this food, these antibodies will release histamine into your bloodstream, causing everything from itchy hives to upset stomachs (not pleasant).


Though the line between common food allergies and food intolerance is often blurred, symptoms of an allergy will generally crop up immediately after consumption and no later than two hours afterward. However, depending on your type of intolerance, you may be able to enjoy small amounts of the food without issues, unlike a true allergic who will develop symptoms regardless. For instance, for those who have issues digesting lactose as they get older, small amounts may not cause a reaction, whereas enjoying a plate of creamy burrata might not end with the best of results.


Food allergies affect mostly young children, and approximately 90 percent of these allergies are caused by just eight foods: cow's milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Taking precautions to avoid foods that you're allergic to is essential. And while it may seem easy enough to simply not eat the offending foods, many processed and packaged foods contain ingredient labels that can be confusing to decipher. But reading the labels is necessary, because even though your favorite snack may not list eggs as ingredients, it may contain an "egg product" that could cause an allergy to flare up. But fear not, food fans, we've found the various ways these foods can be listed on labels so you'll know what to watch out for and what to eat instead.

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