November 21, 2013

Blaming game

When people get sick, they naturally try to blame someone or something for their illness. They want to point fingers at the person who “gave me this cold” or blame their chronic headaches on “work-related stress.” In thecase of food allergies, there’s plenty of blame to go around, as pointed out in the  following:

Blaming your parents: Genetic factors

Allergies run in families, but not as you may think. If one family member is allergic to milk, another may be allergic to peanut or develop asthma. If one or both parents have hay fever or asthma, their children may have hay fever, asthma, a food allergy, a combination of the three; or no allergy at all. In short, if any allergic condition is present in a family member, other family members are more susceptible to developing an allergic condition, not necessarily a food allergy.

Blaming your foods: Allergens

When you’re allergic to a particular food, you may be tempted to blame the food — “I like peanuts, but peanuts don’t like me.” But the food itself is only partially to blame.

Foods that commonly spark allergic reactions such as peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, and wheat, have uniquely structured protein molecules in them that make them a more identifiable target for your immune system. How your immune system responds to those proteins determines whether or not you experience an allergic reaction.

Currently, the most effective treatments for food allergies are to avoid the problem foods (to prevent reactions) and then relieve symptoms when reactions do occur. Researchers are looking for ways to train the immune system not to overreact.