Tag Archives: wheat allergy

The “Big 8” Food Allergens (Part 1)

Nearly 15 million Americans have food allergies. People can be allergic to nearly any type of food substance however, 8 foods in particular comprise 90% of all food allergies, earning them the moniker “The Big 8”. These allergens are responsible for up to 30,000 anaphylactic reactions annually. Due to the prevalence of the Big 8, companies are required to list these ingredients on labels. Unfortunately not all other allergy foods contain such warnings. The Big 8 include:

  1. Peanuts – peanuts are one of the most notorious and prevalent food allergies. They are also the most common cause of food induced anaphylaxis because those who are highly reactive to peanuts can have life-threatening reactions not only through ingestion, but also through cross contamination or inhalation. Many parents give their babies their first taste of peanut butter early under supervised circumstances, as some studies suggest early exposure may lower risks of developing the allergy, or in the least will catch it right away before a potentially deadly chance encounter can occur.
  2. Tree nuts – Unlike most of the others listed here, a tree nut allergy is one of the Big 8 that is rarely outgrown. Some of the most well known tree nuts are almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts and pine nuts. Tree nuts allergies range from mild to severe, but are often serious enough for the sufferer to carry an EpiPen. Many people hear “nut allergies” and assume those allergic to tree nuts definitely share an allergy peanuts, but that isn’t necessarily true. Peanuts are actually legumes not nuts, so just because you are allergic to tree nuts doesn’t mean you are automatically allergic to peanuts and vice versa.
  1. Milk – Cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in young children. Approximately 5% of children under 3 years of age are allergic to milk. Milk allergies should not be confused with lactose intolerance. People with milk allergies have an immune overreaction to milk, causing hives or rashes to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, whereas people with lactose intolerance are missing the enzyme that breaks down lactose, so their system cannot process dairy regularly, resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms. Children allergic to milk most often carry EpiPens in case their symptoms advance. Many children grow out of dairy allergies.
  2. Eggs – Are caused by an intolerance to a specific protein found in hen’s eggs. It is most common in children under 5 and is commonly outgrown. It usually causes digestive symptoms such as swelling, bloating, nausea and vomiting but can also cause hives, nasal symptoms or in rare cases more severe symptoms. If you have an egg allergy, look out for: “egg white”, “dried egg” or “albumin” listed in ingredients.

Thanks for reading, please keep an eye out for #’s 5-8 of The Big 8 in our next post! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Gluten Free Options, Products And Info

Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease (a serious autoimmune condition whereby gluten protein causes the body to attack itself) and 0.4% of Americans have a true allergy to wheat. However, a whopping 18 million Americans have a non-specific sensitivity to gluten (usually related to the digestive tract).

GF Controversy

There has been some debate about the recent rise in people opting for Gluten Free (GF) lifestyles. Many people who have no medical issues with the substance have chosen to jump on the GF bandwagon, equating GF with better overall health. This may not necessarily be the case. While some wellness experts assert that limiting gluten consumption is best for everyone, many medical professionals argue that a GF diet can lack fibre and other essential dietary components and simply isn’t necessary unless you’ve been diagnosed with one of the three aforementioned conditions. Controversy aside, people are free to eat what they wish so whether you have celiac, a sensitivity, a wheat allergy or just wish to evade the hotly contended substance, luckily more and more GF products are becoming available.

Types of GF Flour

  • Rice flour has a great consistency that mimics standard flour better than some of the others on the list, but it is not as healthy as quinoa or brown rice flour.
  • Brown rice flour is healthier because it has more fibre than white rice flour and can be used for virtually anything standard flour can be used for.
  • Spelt flour is great for pizza crusts, and can also fully substitute traditional flour in a baking recipe.
  • Quinoa flour is one of the more nutritious options; it has a natural ‘nutty’ flavour and can be completely substituted in baking recipes.
  • Soy flour is especially good for thickening up gravies and other sauces.
  • Coconut flour is high in fibre, protein and low in fat. It also provides a nice taste to baked goods and is a favored GF flour.
  • Almond flour is great for coating meat for frying, also good for about 1/4th of the flour requirement for a baked goods recipe (can be combined with other flours).

* Many of these flours make up great gluten-free pastas as well, such as brown rice (one of our favourites), rice and quinoa!

GF Shopping

There are great gluten free companies out there such as Glutino who make virtually anything you can think of gluten free such as: pizza, hot dog buns, bagels (including whole grain), frozen macaroni and cheese, cinnamon buns, blueberry muffins, cookies, pretzels and the list goes on.

Major Brands With GF Products:

  • Breton’s Crackers
  • Kellogg’s
  • Club House
  • General Mills
  • Dole
  • Snyder’s
  • Maple Leaf

Restaurants That Feature GF Options

You may have to pay a little more for gluten free food items, but most popular restaurants now offer GF menu options. Just a few of the major chains that have recently added GF menus are:

  • Subway
  • Arby’s
  • Austin Grill
  • Pizza Hut
  • Duffy’s
  • Joe’s Crab Shack
  • The Keg
  • Naked Pizza
  • Popeye’s Chicken

The options are boundless and only continuing to grow with so many people going gluten free, which is certainly great for those with allergies and celiac as they have many more product choices now because of such high demand. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about celiac or gluten allergy symptoms, feel free to sign up today and try a videoconference with one of our highly qualified physicians!