Food foes

By • Published: February 10th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

All of us have had queasy encounters with food.

But when gastric disagreements escalate to all-out war, it may indicate a food allergy.

Sometimes our bodies actually mistake proteins in certain foods for invaders, triggering our immune systems.

And we rarely come out unscathed.

Now, in perhaps the largest food allergy study to date, the extent of food allergies in the population and their relationship with other diseases is becoming clearer.

Investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the National Institutes of Health assessed more than eight thousand people ages one to older than sixty.

Unlike most previous studies, researchers measured blood levels of antibodies to make sure patients were truly having allergic reactions. People were considered allergic only when their antibody levels reached disease-fighting extremes.

Children five years old and younger were the most likely age group to have food allergies, with four-point-two-percent of them testing highly positive.

Researchers also discovered that black people are three times as likely as white people to have a food allergy, while men are almost twice as likely as women to be affected.

Although scientists didn’t study cause and effect between food allergies and asthma, the research did turn up an interesting morsel… having a food allergy appears to compound the risk for the condition, and vice versa.

If you’re wondering what types of food trigger allergic reactions, peanuts, in a nutshell, are the winners, with one-point-five percent of people testing highly positive for peanut antibodies.

Next was shrimp, which affect about one percent of people, followed by eggs at point-four percent. Rounding out the big four was milk at… aptly enough… point-two percent.