The week of May 8 - 14 2022 has been declared in many states as Food Allergy Awareness Week. This brings light to an important matter that over 32 million Americans have to deal with and affects their daily lives. We are going to do a small blog on what this is and how it can change people's thought processes about eating.
Out of the 32 million people with food allergies, an estimated 26 million (10.8%) are adults and 5.6 million (7.6%) are children. Sadly, children's allergies have doubled and at times tripled since 1997. Roughly, 170 food items cause food allergies, though the most common are in 8 categories: Milk, Egg, Peanut, Tree nut (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc), Wheat, Soy, Fish, and Shellfish (crab, shrimp, scallop, clams, etc). Recently sesame has been declared by Congress a major allergen as it now affects over 1 million. There are some food allergens that can be outgrown, such as Milk, Egg, Wheat, and Soy though most do not.
The reason, certain food proteins that normally are harmless react with an individual's immune system and cause an allergic reaction. Reactions do vary from a mild itching
clear to severe anaphylaxis where the body becomes hypersensitive to the allergen.
Due to hypersensitive reactions, the daily life of someone who suffers from food allergies does qualify to be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Children who are afflicted with food allergies also are twice as likely to have other issues like asthma or eczema. While most suffer from food allergies in childhood, it isn't until adulthood that people are diagnosed with an allergen.
The myth of avoiding introducing babies to food allergens has been debunked. Babies with an egg allergy or eczema may benefit from introducing peanuts early on as it highly reduces the risk of developing a peanut allergy later.
Some immunologists are doing studies to help with allergens called oral immunotherapy.
A risky process that under the clinical direction a person suffering from a certain allergy will ingest the allergy in small quantities routinely. The idea is to help build the ability to consume without deadly consequences. This doesn't work for all who suffer from food allergies and it doesn't cure the problem. Other research immunologists are doing is working with microbes or bacteria inside our gut. Scientists have found natural-born antibodies against peanut allergens inside the stomach of a person with peanut allergens. This supported immunologists' research on the gastrointestinal tract. Continued research and findings are looking positive with a bright future in helping cure food allergens.
So, what to do until a cure or treatment is found? Be mindful of those around you and who will be going to eat or consume the food you create. ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENT LABELS OF CONSUMABLES YOU PURCHASE. Understand the severity of food allergens and keep notes of cross-contamination. It is also important to be very clear and communicate known allergens where ever you are. If you know of a certain allergen, you can look for substitutes that do not affect tastes (or can even taste better) from the original recipe. Check out the table below for some tips
Known Food Allergen
Try this recipe
If used as a binding agent in sweet recipes try bananas or applesauce. For savory recipes try pumpkin or squash.
Almond, hemp, rice, or coconut milk (Be sure to use unsweetened/unflavored especially when baking)
fish with heart of palm (crab); mushroom sauce (oyster sauce); tofu (scallops)
Peanuts and Tree nuts
seeds, oven-roasted beans, crumbled pretzels
Wheat* Wheat allergy is different than gluten intolerance (celiac disease) so be mindful when substituting what to look for
Wheat-free: Barley and Rye Wheat & Gluten-free: rice flour, brown rice, teff flour, quinoa flour, sorghum flour
Beans/Peas/other legumes, Seitan, coconut aminos (fermented coconut sap)