Food Allergy Awareness Week

May 13-19 is Food Allergy Awareness Week, sponsored by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education).  About 50 million Americans have food allergies.  Allergies can occur at any age and even to foods you have eaten in the past.  There are 8 foods that make up the majority of food allergies: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.  Food allergies are different from intolerances or sensitivities and a wheat allergy is different from Celiac Disease as well.  Here are the differences:

“A food allergy is an adverse health effect resulting from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food. The health effect, called an allergic reaction, occurs because the immune system attacks food proteins that are normally harmless.  Food allergies can be life-threatening.” -FARE

An intolerance is when your body has trouble digesting a food. It can make you feel badly, usually with an upset stomach, but it is not life-threatening. The most common intolerance is to lactose—which is a natural sugar found in milk.”- FARE

Celiac disease (also known as celiac sprue), which affects the small intestine, is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. IgE, the antibody responsible for life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis) does not play a role in this disorder. Usually diagnosed by a gastroenterologist, it is a digestive disease that can cause serious complications, including malnutrition and intestinal damage, if left untreated. Individuals with celiac disease must avoid gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats.”- FARE

Check out these other resources as well:

University of Southern California-Food Allergies

Food Allergy Research & Education

Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics-Food Allergies