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Food Allergens – What Are They?
“What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person”, says one the wisest books ever created on Earth. Of course, food cannot defile one’s body or soul; on the other side, there are situations when food can definitely harm a person’s health and spoil his wellbeing.
 
Being allergic to some products or food ingredients is an example of such situation, when what goes into the mouth can make harm to a human being. So, what are the products which can cause allergic reaction in humans?
 
The good news is that there are not so many food products which can cause allergies. In fact, there are only 9 major foods, which are considered to be food allergens. However, the bad news is that those products can sometimes be very difficult to identify, because they are often used as the ingredients of other types of food. Anyway, below is the list of the most common food allergens.
 
Milk. Being the very first food product every human being tastes in his life, and containing a unique set of nutritional elements; milk is, on the other hand, considered to be one of the most common food allergens. Milk protein can trigger a wide range of allergic reaction, the nature and severity of which depend greatly on sensitivity of a particular person to this product.
 
Okay, now that we know milk is an allergen, the only thing necessary to avoid allergic reaction may seem to be forgetting the way to the dairy shop and passing through the dairy lines in the supermarket as if some ancient mummies instead of edible products are displayed there… However, the things are not so easy with milk – this tricky food allergen can mask itself in a hundreds of other food products so perfectly, that only a chemical test can identify its presence in the product. But do not despair - it is not necessary to buy a mobile laboratory; usually reading a product label carefully can help a lot in identifying whether a particular product contains milk or not.
 
Eggs. While humanity still tries to find out what was the first to appear – a hen or an egg, the scientists have already identified that it is egg, not hen, which can cause allergic reactions in people. Being a great source of animal protein, calcium, phosphorus and many vitamins, eggs are an equally great source of distress for people, being allergic to them.
 
Wheat. Bread is considered to be among the essential components of traditional cuisine; however, if it is made of wheat, it is also a source of threats for allergic people. Cereals, breads, snacks, and any kind of bakery in general are the products, which contain wheat. If you are allergic to it – perhaps, it is time to think about some alternative cuisine, originating from the places, where wheat does not grow.
 
Peanuts. This product is usually mentioned as food allergen not because a lot of people suffer from peanut allergy, but because peanuts and peanut butter may cause much more serious allergic reactions in comparison to those triggered by milk or eggs. What is even worse, even a tiny amount of peanut is enough to cause allergy symptoms; so, product labels should be read with special carefulness by people, sensitive to peanuts.
 
Fish and shellfish.  What is interesting to mention about fish and allergy is that the more fish you eat the more chances to become allergic you have. That is why, according to statistics, allergic reactions caused by fish consumption occur more frequently in such countries as Japan (because fish is a key component of Japanese cuisine) than in the USA (unless you are not a fan of sushi-bars, of course).
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Other common food allergens are tree nuts, soy, and sesame seeds. Together with the above described products, they are the most common triggers, responsible for up to 90 % of all food allergic reactions.
 
Finally, we should keep in mind that food allergy, as many other types of allergies, can be very “personalized”. In other words, what is an allergen for one person can be quite safe for another one. That is why the best way to treat food allergy is to find out which of the food products cause allergic reaction in every particular case.
 
Nick


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