Allergic reactions to food are divided into two groups: toxic and non-toxic. Toxic reactions can occur after ingestion of food contaminated with bacteria or other toxins (poisons).
Nontoxic reactions occur among hypersensitive persons. It depends on how strong one’s immune system is, that is, the antibody quality of an individual. They are commonly caused by immunoglobulin E (IgE). Sometimes the food allergies are classified as “non IgE”, which means they are not always caused by immunoglobulin E.
Allergy is an inherited tendency of the immune system to react in a hypersensitive way to certain substances. The body can, but does not have to, develop an allergic reaction when it comes in contact with allergens (which implies a connection between genetic predisposition and the body’s defense mechanism). In repeated contact with the allergen, a predisposed organism recognizes the allergen as a ”foreign entity” and seeks to “protect” itself. This results in an overreaction of antibodies (proteins “created” by our immune system) to allergens (usually a food protein). Immunoglobulin, usually Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a product of this reaction. It causes further reactions leading to rapid release of large amounts of histamine, another “nasty” substance, responsible for many symptoms caused by the “wrong diet.”
The most common symptoms (complaints) are:
Gastrointestinal (digestive) symptoms: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea
Skin symptoms: hives, itching, dermatitis
General and the most difficult symptoms: hypotension (low blood pressure), bronchospasm (bronchi narrowing), anaphylactic shock
The occurrence of food allergies varies among different age groups, but the allergens that cause it also tend to change. Due to underdeveloped immune system in early childhood, children suffer from allergies more often. They are often allergic to milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, sea fish; while adults are more often allergic to nuts and oily fish.
Food allergies can occur at any age, but more often to those already predisposed to allergies to other substances, the so called atopy (atopic syndrome).
The treatment of food allergy most commonly includes elimination diet. This refers to a diet completely free of certain food. It should be noted that even the minimum quantity of allergens in food can cause allergic symptoms.