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Foods are composed of different nutrients and organic components. During its consumption, these foods are being digested in our body by enzymes and nutrients are either being absorbed or being broken down for our body to absorb and be used. However, there are times when a certain food being consumed by our body reacts negatively with our body which causes different reactions and effects to those who consumed it. Certain reactions lead to rashes, skin itchiness and even death. These reactions, are what we call a food allergy and/or food intolerance.
WHAT IS AN ALLERGY?
An allergy is a condition where the body overreacts following "contact" with an allergen (dust, molds, pollen, flower, dander, fur, animal protein from hair, perfume, cosmetics, medications---applied to skin or swallowed---food or drink, etc.). Essentially, it is an immune reaction to a substance that is inhaled, injected, ingested, or even just touched. The body's immune system responds to an allergen -- the substance causing the reaction -- by releasing histamines and other chemicals that result in symptoms such as nasal and respiratory congestion, an itchy or runny nose, a sore throat, diarrhea, itchy, watery eyes, and itchy rashes. In some serious cases, it can lead to sudden inability to breathe, shock and death. Allergic reaction is triggered, and symptoms develop, when the body's immune system detects the presence of an allergen. This automatic protective response is aimed at warding off any adverse effects of the "culprit substance" on the body by producing antibodies and
mobilizing the "immune soldiers into the battlefield to fight the invading foreign" substance. This is a natural part of the defense mechanism of our body. According to studies on the incidence of food allergy attacks, about 10 percent of people have some form of allergies or another. That is, almost 7 million Filipinos suffer from this malady. Luckily, most of the allergies people have are mild. If repeated exposures to the same allergen, at the same high dose, are allowed to occur, the symptoms could become more severe. Also, medical reports have shown that about 2% (two out of a hundred) of adults and about 8% of children have true food allergies. Food allergy is not the same as food intolerance (like stomach aches following ingestion of milk for those with deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose--milk and milk products). Food intolerance is due to body metabolism and does not involve the immune system. Some people are allergic to shellfish, peanuts, a few to chicken. Cow's milk, soy, wheat and eggs are common cause of allergies in children. In some cases, children outgrow their allergies, but early peanut allergy can be for life. WHAT IS A FOOD INTOLERANCE? Food intolerance unlike allergy is not an immune response rather it is a digestive system response, a varied physiological response associated with a particular food, or compound found in a range of foods. This may also be referred to as non-allergic food hypersensitivity.
The symptoms and signs by which food allergy and intolerance manifest its characteristic effects vary. The most obvious symptoms for food allergy are flushed skin or rashes, the swelling of the tongue, face and lips, and the itchy or tingly sensation in certain parts of the body especially in the mouth. It also includes dizziness or lightheadedness, and in extreme cases it includes, abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea, swelling of the throat and vocal cords resulting to coughing or wheezing and difficulty in breathing, and loss of consciousness. The swelling is mostly due to the production of the histamine of the body as a reaction to the allergen (see mechanism).
Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. In some allergic reactions the symptom may appear well after many hours and even days after ingestion of the allergen. Because of this a patient is not able to realize the connection of this/her allergy with a food product since the reaction is greatly deferred.
Symptom of food intolerance, on the other hand, is commonly in manifested through the patient¶s gastro-intestinal tract. Food intolerance may also manifest in the respiratory system, may also show up in the skin, produce chronic headache, muscle and bone disorders, and may lead to infertility.
In general the mechanism reaction of food allergy involves the food protein reacting with the body¶s antibody which subsequently produces histamine triggering the symptoms and signs of allergy. Specifically there are two types of allergic reactions, the immediate on-set reaction and the delayed on-set reaction.
The immediate on-set reaction shows up immediately after the food ingestion through the tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth. The reaction starts when the food allergic person eats a certain allergic protein which is mistakenly recognized by the body as ³hazardous´. The body then produces the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) directed against the ³hazardous´ protein. The second time the person eats that certain food protein the IgE the body was able to produce will then react with each other and with the food protein triggering the release of histamine from the basophil, a type of white blood cell. The release of histamine, which is an amine, ³immediately effects a dilation of the blood vessels. This dilation is accompanied by a lowering of blood pressure and an increased permeability of the vessel walls, so that fluids escape into the surrounding tissues.´1 The swelling of the body tissues during allergic reaction is caused by the release of histamine.
"Histamine." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
Accordingly there is a protein that acts as a receptor for the IgE, enabling it to react in food allergic reactions, the CD23, a protein normally expressed in a person's intestinal tract.
The second type of allergic reaction is the delayed on-set reaction. This type of reaction shows up rather belatedly, appearing even after two (2) days from ingestion of the allergenic foods. This kind of reaction shows up to people with a given predisposition for the delayed onset allergic reaction, who instead of creating the antibody IgE creates a T-cell. On the initial ingestion of the ³hazardous´ food protein the body synthesizes the T-cell, a component of the immune system, which is the one that attacks the part of the body about to suffer. The T-cell release certain chemicals that lead to signs and symptoms associated with allergy.
The reason to the delayed allergic reaction is attributed to the processing and the presentation and of the food protein to the T-cell, and the consequent ³invasion´ of the affected area, which could generally take up to 24-48 hours.
Unfortunately search from published literatures on as to what specific food protein acts as allergen was unproductive. It was said that complex mixtures of allergens seem to exist in commonly allergenic foods, of which purification and characterization may be hard. To further understand the chemistry of food allergens further research will be required.
Examples of Food Allergy:
The most common food allergy problem in the United States and even here in the country is the peanut allergy; furthermore it appears to be on the rise. A research study showed that there
is a doubling on the number of incidence of peanut allergy in children from 1997 to 2002. The severity of the allergy is dependent on the sensitivity of the person and on the quantity of the peanut protein that person consumed. Other times the allergic reaction is caused by the unwary ingestion of the person of products that are unexpected sources of peanut.
Some unexpected sources of peanuts are: o Potato pancakes o Asian and Mexican dishes o Some vegetarian food products, especially those advertised as meat substitutes
o Foods that contain extruded, cold-pressed, or expelled peanut oil, which may contain peanut protein o Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy, mole sauce, and salad dressing o Sweets such as pudding, cookies, and hot chocolate o Egg rolls
Cow Milk Allergy
A study related that cow milk allergy affects some 2-3% of infants, who develop symptoms within their first few months of life. This kind of allergy is due to a person¶s hyper sensitivity to cow milk. Again, in this case, the body falsely recognizes the milk protein as ³hazardous´ thereby creating antibodies that will neutralize the foreign materials presence.
This risk can be overcome with an alternative hypoallergenic formula, such as aminoacid based formulas (AAF) or extensively hydrolyzed formulas (eHF), which can provide rapid relief of symptoms and enables optimal growth and development.
The recommended approach to common food allergies is avoidance. But sometimes this method is very hard since products that contain these common food allergens are not properly labeled on its package, because of these labeling rules and regulations are implemented in respective countries, other times medications are employed to treat allergy symptoms.
FOOD ALLERGENS and LABELLING STANDARDS
Labeling information standard has been set to help avoid the health risks posed by food allergens, Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). The law applies to all foods whose labeling is regulated by FDA, both domestic and imported. (FDA regulates the labeling of all foods, except for poultry, most meats, certain egg products, and most alcoholic beverages.) Before FALCPA, the labels of foods made from two or more ingredients were required to list all ingredients by their common or usual names. The names of some ingredients, however, do not clearly identify their food source. But now, the law requires that labels must clearly identify the food source names of all ingredients that are ² or contain any protein derived from ²the eight most common food allergens, which FALCPA defines as ³major food allergens.´
How Are Major Food Allergens Listed?
It could either be: y The name of the food source of a major food allergen must appear: In parenthesis following the name of the ingredient.
Examples: "lecithin (soy)," "flour (wheat)," and "whey (milk)" ± OR ±
Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a "contains" statement.
Example: "Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy."
Example of proper labeling information. TREATMENT
The best way to treat allergies is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This is accomplished through the avoidance of allergic triggers. However, avoidance is not always possible, such as when a person is allergic to pollen in the air. Therefore, many people with allergies require medications to treat their symptoms.
When avoidance doesn't work to treat allergy symptoms, most people turn to medications. There are a wide variety of medications available to treat allergic diseases such as: y y y y hay fever pills asthma inhalers topical creams epinephrine injectors for severe allergic reactions
Immunotherapy offers the only form of allergic treatment that actually changes the way the body deals with allergies. While medications only cover up symptoms, immunotherapy can reduce the immune system's response to allergic triggers. Immunotherapy involves administering what a person is allergic to in an injection (shot) form, or as drops under the tongue (sublingual immunotherapy). As a result, the immune system reacts in a non-allergic way to allergic triggers,
resulting in a decrease in allergic symptoms over time. Most people taking immunotherapy need less medication to treat their allergies - some need none.
New research from the UK suggests an immune system malfunction could play a profound role in the onset of food allergies. As the European food industry gets to grips with imminent rules on the labeling of allergens, the UK findings will help industry and consumer alike. Some recent research has also begun to show that some kinds of common parasites, such as intestinal worms, secrete immunosuppressant chemicals into the gut wall and hence the bloodstream which prevent the body from attacking the parasite. This gives rise to a new slant on the hygiene hypothesis - which co-evolution of man and parasites has in the past led to an immune system that only functions correctly in the presence of the parasites. Without them, the immune system becomes unbalanced and oversensitive. So far, there is only sporadic evidence to support this hypothesis - one scientist who suffered from seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) infected himself with gutworms and was immediately 'cured' of his allergy with no other ill effects. Full clinical trials have yet to be performed however. It may be that the term 'parasite' could turn out to be inappropriate, and in fact a hitherto unsuspected symbiosis is at work.
The May 2009 "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" published a study that suggests rising childhood obesity may be promoting the increased occurrence of food allergies which rose by 18 percent from 1997-2007. Obesity was associated with a greater development of atopic disease such as eczema and psoriasis, and a whopping 59 percent increase in food sensitization. Researchers in this study noted, "The analysis of continuous Body Mass Index (BMI) with total IgE levels supports the concept that increased weight is associated with increased allergic predisposition.´.
American Gastroenterological Association (2006, July 21). Researchers Demonstrate Potential Mechanism Of Food Allergy.ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721120023.htm
http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/SelectedHealthTopics/ucm11907 5.html 3
email@example.com "Histamine." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
"Food Allergy and Intolerance." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
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http://www.babycenter.com.ph/baby/health/allergies/ http://health.yahoo.net/channel/food-allergies.html http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/210702/milk-intolerance-among-adults