Allergy Awareness Week UK is coming up on the 26th – 30th April – it’s actually one of a few such weeks during April & May around allergies – this one relates to the organisation Allergy UK.
Most of us know what the word ‘allergy’ means, yet very few of us understand how difficult living with an allergy or allergies can be.
Some people, misguidedly seem to think, it can’t be that bad, even when they see news headlines of fatalities due to allergies.
Did you know there has been a rise of anaphylaxis cases in the US, Australia and Europe? Did you know that allergies are on the rise too, particularly among children and particularly around food?
In England between 2013 and 2019, there was a rise of 72% in the number of hospital admissions for children caused by anaphylaxis, up to 1,746.
There is more awareness of food allergies than there has been in the past, but we don’t understand the rise in numbers, even though three to four times as many people think they have a food allergy than they actually do. This makes self-reported data difficult to trust.
Also, there is a confusion between food allergy and food intolerance.
Everything You Need To Know
Allergies are reactions caused by the immune system when it responds to environmental substances, that are usually harmless to most of the population.
You can have an allergic reaction to a range of different materials, which are called allergens.
These different allergens can be: food, pollen, dust mites, animals, insect stings, or medicines.
These allergies can affect different parts of the body: hay fever affects your nose and eyes, eczema affects your skin.
Food allergies can affect your gut, skin, airways, lungs, and sometimes the whole body, through the blood vessels.
In some cases, food allergies can be severe or life-threatening because they can trigger a dramatic physical response ie anaphylaxis affecting the airways.
What are the Top 14 allergens?
The 14 allergens are:
Most common food allergies
- Cereals containing gluten (e.g. barley and oats)
- Crustaceans (e.g. prawns, crabs and lobsters
- Molluscs (e.g. mussels and oysters)
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
- Tree nuts: –
- Almonds; hazelnuts; walnuts; brazil nuts; cashews; pecans; pistachios and macadamia nuts).
These allergens also apply to additives, processing aids and any other substances which are present in the final product.
Allergies vs intolerance – what is the difference?
As mentioned above, in What are Allergies? – they cause an immune system reaction that affects various organs in the body. They can cause a life threatening reaction – anaphylaxis.
By contrast, food intolerance is difficulty in digesting certain foods and having an unpleasant physical reaction to them.
With a food intolerance usually, the symptoms only occur after eating a substantial amount of the food, unlike allergies where just a trace of the food can trigger a reaction.
Symptoms of intolerance can include, bloating, tummy pain, wind and or diarrhoea, skin rashes and itching. These symptoms usually happen a few hours after eating the food.
A good way to test for intolerance, is to monitor your symptoms and what you eat. Try to work out which foods are causing the problem. Keep a food diary and if in doubt consult a professional such as a nutritionist, nutritional therapist or naturopath (ensure they are qualified through a recognised body)
They may ask you to trial an elimination diet, where, for two to six weeks, you cut out the foods which seem to be causing your symptoms. If your symptoms disappear, reintroduce the food and find a level at which you can tolerate it.
All of our products at Creative Nature are 14 allergen-free, so people with allergies can safely eat our delicious products without fear.
However, if your allergic reaction is not amongst the top 14, always ensure you read the product labelling carefully. Even when you have eaten that food for a long while, check, because occasionally, companies change their ingredients. Never rely on anyone else, it is your body, so it’s important you always check the ingredient lists.
Because Julianne, our CEO has severe allergies and understands the risks involved in inadvertently eating the wrong food, we are always happy to talk to customers who want to check out the ingredients we use.