Think eating healthy and you are likely to think of avoiding a number of high fat, high sugar and high sodium foods. Home free? Wrong. For the increasing numbers of people allergic to nuts, it is a little more difficult.
Roasted peanuts are a delicacy for Newarkers. Good old down home fare. Remember the store front vegetable markets of about 35 years ago? Mulberry Street was replete with vegetable stands that cooked the peanuts right on the presmises. The aroma of roasting peanuts would make you float right in the door. Getting them fresh out of the oven was a delight -you might just find a line of people waiting.
Nuts, specifically peanuts are everywhere you turn: in oils, in foods that are fried in the oils, in ice cream and cakes, cookies, pies and numerous other unexpected places. Although, when eaten raw, they are high in protein and fiber, folic acid and vitamin E, they can be deadly to those who are allergic to them. The range of symptoms can go from mild hives any runny nose to wheezing and anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction which is life threatening).
What causes the reaction?
This is due to a hyper-reacting immune system. The allergen in taken into the body and it reacts by producing antibodies (IgE) which in turn causes the body to release histamine which is responsible for the allergic reactions including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sinus headache, and so forth. It is then that most people reach for anti-histamines (like benadryl) to control the reaction.
Why the sudden increase in peanut and nut allergy?
According to Julie Redfern, L.D., R.D.N. in the article “Allergies:When nuts are not healthy” there are many reason that have been speculated:
-Introduction of the food at a very young age, before the immune system is mature.
This is quite logical because for ages pediatricians have suggested that mothers introduce food items at particular times during the child’s growth and development. For example, apple juice if introduced too early can cause diarrhea. Also, once foods are introduced, it should be done one at a time to be better able to isolate the offending food should an allergy develop.
-Roasting peanuts render them indigestible. This can contribute to the development of allergies. Remember, a strong digestive system makes a strong immune system.
-Increased exposure to peanut oils in topical creams.
It is also a known fact that frequently using anything can cause development of allergies.
-Use of soy formulas. Soy is also a legume and cross reactions can occur.
How do you know if you are allergic to peanuts?
There are several tests, one of which being the skin test. A dilute amount of the allergen is introduced through the skin and the reaction is noted by the doctor. Or, less common, your doctor might order blood work that will test for the presence of specific antibodies which will signal the allergy.
Most people know for themselves through association of symptoms and the foods that cause them. To confirm such suspipcions, one by one, isolated the foods and determine whether the sumptoms go away,
For safety’s sake
It is best to wear a wrist band signalling to medics that you have such an allergy.
It is also wise to read all labels in the supermarket and question food preparations in restaurants.
At school, let the school nurse and the classroom teacher know that your child has an allergy to peanuts and other nuts or foods.
To view the complete article, or for more information on allergies and health related topics, please visit:
Redfern, Julie, “Allergies: When nuts are not healthy”