Blog-ergies (Allergy-Related series)

The Tale of the Adventurous Allergens

Whoever would have thought of ‘allergens’ as adventurous?! Well, they certainly are! Allergens can be found almost anywhere. They love travelling, they love the outdoors and indoors but there is a certain level of risk associated with them, potentially harming whomever they come into contact with. There are many types of allergens, including environmental, and food such as sesame and mustard. You may be thinking, “sesame? mustard?” In response, I will say, “Yes, these are considered priority food allergens (as per Health Canada). As I mentioned above, allergens are “adventurous,” which means they can appear in your life at any age and are not afraid to take on any shape, size, colour, or texture. Speaking from personal experience, I have an allergy to chickpeas/garbanzo beans/gram, which is NOT a priority food allergen.

The most common food allergens are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, sesame, wheat, triticale, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, mustard and sulphites. Symptoms can occur via the skin (hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness), respiratory body system (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hayfever-like symptoms, trouble swallowing), gastrointestinal body system (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain/cramps), cardiovascular body system (dizziness or lightheadedness, weak pulse, passing out, pale/blue colour, shock), neurological body system (anxiety, headache), and other (metallic taste, uterine cramps). Trouble breathing and decreased blood pressure are symptoms of anaphylaxis that can be fatal, if left untreated. (as per Food Allergy Canada)

The following tips and strategies can help manage allergies, and/or if you already have a diagnosis of food allergies, can help manage your day-to-day living:

If you experience an allergic reaction, one must administer epinephrine in the form of an EpiPen (note a parent/guardian must administer for a child). The administration of an EpiPen is done via injection into the outer thigh, and followed by an immediate visit to the nearest hospital for monitoring. Although food allergies have no cure, there are ways to help avoid these allergens and associated symptoms. One must read ingredient labels carefully, avoid cross-contamination when handling and preparing foods and wash and clean hands thoroughly. Food allergies can also be treated with immunotherapy, which can be discussed with your doctor. We must get creative in the kitchen to create different recipes that are allergen-free, and this is where the services of a nutritionist can help!

As a holistic nutritionist, I would advise on dietary recommendations such as keeping a food diary, eliminating foods such as milk, wheat and sugar, and slowly reintroducing foods to identify possible allergies. Consumption of organic, fresh and whole foods is vital. Lifestyle/psychospiritual recommendations would include reducing stress and opening up the heart chakra (i.e. energy center of our body) to allow our emotions to surface. These are just a few of the recommendations provided within a holistic context in order to provide relief of food allergies.

Let’s keep a close eye on these thrill-seeking travellers and put them away for good!

The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of Harpreet Matharu. Please note that Harpreet Matharu is not a dietitian, physician, pharmacist or other licensed healthcare professional. The information in this blog is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health care professional. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all diagnosis and treatment of any diseases or conditions, for medications or medical advice as well as before changing your health care regimen.

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